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Wyoming at a glance
Gray wolves once existed throughout Wyoming; however, persecution and, eventually, poisoning began shortly after European settlement. Wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and 1996 in an effort to facilitate gray wolf recovery in the Northern Rockies states, and have since thrived and expanded within and outside of the park. Wolves continue to be controversial, and public attitudes vary.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the most recent official minimum population estimate shows that the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf population contains more than 1,774 adult wolves and more than 109 breeding pairs. Most of the suitable habitat across the Northern Rocky Mountain region is now occupied and likely at, or above, long-term carrying capacity. This population has exceeded recovery goals for 10 consecutive years.
Wolf range is approximately 20 percent of the map shown, with most wolves occupying the northwestern portion of the state. Range lines are not depicted. Main prey for wolves there are elk, moose, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats and beaver.
Wyoming allows regulated taking of wolves (quotas, seasons, etc.) in a Trophy Zone in the NW part of the state (see map). That is where most of Wyoming’s wolves live. Some wolves continually try to recolonize outside that zone. However that area is dominated by livestock grazing so wolves are heavily controlled for depredating on livestock, and state managers allow unregulated public taking there.
According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department: On April 25, 2017 a court mandate returned management of gray wolves to the State of Wyoming. To read more about that news click here. As of that ruling, Game and Fish is now managing wolves subject to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission (Commission) approved wolf management plan, regulations (Chapters 21 and 47) and State Statutes. All of those went through a public comment process previously.
Common Name: gray wolf, northwestern wolf, haqihana (Arapaho)
Latin Name: Canis lupus
Location: northwestern portion of Wyoming
Current Wolf Population, Trend, Status
Number of wolves: At least 311 in 2019, according to this report.
Population trend: Stable
Legal status: Managed by the state of Wyoming (except for wolves within Yellowstone National Park and Wind River Reservation)
This page was last updated in 2020.
Recovery and Management
- 2019 Wyoming Wolf Monitoring Management Plan
- Wolf Conservation and Management in Wyoming
- Wolf Management Plan for the Wind River Reservation
- Wyoming’s laws and regulations about wolves
- Wyoming gray wolf management plan
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s News, Information and Recovery Status Reports for the Northern Rockies
- Wyoming and U.S. Department of the Interior Wolf Management Agreement Fact Sheet
- The new threat to wolves in and around Yellowstone (New York Times article)
- Northern Rocky Mountain wolf restoration (U.S. Fish and Wildlife)
- Wolves and Climate Change
- Grizzlies and Wolves in the Northern Rockies
- Yellowstone After Wolves – Will Gray Wolves Restructure the Ecosystem?
- Did wolves help restore trees to Yellowstone?
Prey and Predation
- Barber, S. M., Mech, L. D., and White, P. J. 2005. Yellowstone elk calf mortality following wolf restorations: Bears remain top summer predators. Yellowstone Science 133:37-44.
- Cook, R. C., Cook, J. G., and Mech, L. 2004. Nutritional Condition of Northern Yellowstone Elk. Journal of Mammalogy, 85(4), 714-722.
- Wolves in Wyoming: A guide for livestock producers
- Effects of wolf removal on livestock depredation recurrence and wolf recovery in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming