2007 Wolf Population Management Plans
Minnesota wants 1,600 Wolves
Minnesota wolves will be allowed to continue to naturally expand their range within the state. The minimum statewide winter population goal is 1,600 wolves; there is no maximum goal. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will take the appropriate actions to remedy the situation if the population falls below the minimum goal. The plan divides the state into wolf management zones A and B. In Zone A, where over 80 percent of the wolves reside, state protections would be nearly as strict as current protections under the ESA. The protection provided by the plan to the Zone A wolves will ensure a state wolf population well above 1,600 in that zone. In Zone B, wolves could be killed to protect domestic animals, even if attacks or threatening behavior have not occurred.
Wisconsin's goal: 350 Wolves
Wisconsin sets a management goal of 350 wolves in the state (outside of Indian reservations). This goal was exceeded and in 2004 Wisconsin changed the wolf's status from "threatened" to "protected wild animal." If numbers decline and stay below 250 for three years, the state will relist as threatened. If they decline to less than 80 for one year, the state will relist or reclassify the wolf as endangered. The Wisconsin management plan is currently under review. The state intends to publish an appendix containing plan updates. There are no anticipated changes to the management goals.
Upper Peninsula could support 800 Wolves
Michigan recommends managing for a minimum of 200 wolves on the Upper Peninsula. Habitat, prey, and land-use analysis showed that the Upper Peninsula can support at least 800 wolves. The cultural carrying capacity will be determined by public reaction. The Michigan DNR plans to revise its wolf management. They are in the early stages and have begun to form a group of interested parties.
Wolf populations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan will be monitored for a minimum of five years to ensure that delisting has not occurred prematurely. If it appears, at any time, that the gray wolf cannot sustain itself without the protections of the ESA, the Service can initiate the listing process, including emergency listing.
No Limits for Wolves in Montana
Montana places wolves into two separate categories: endangered in northern Montana, where livestock producers have less flexibility in dealing with livestock depredation; and experimental, non-essential status in southern Montana, where livestock producers and wildlife agencies have more flexibility in dealing with livestock depredation. The foundations of the plan are to recognize the gray wolf as a native species, to approach wolf management similar to other predators (such as mountain lions), to manage adaptively and to recognize and resolve conflicts. Montana is required to maintain 10 breeding pairs as a minimum, with no limit on total numbers.
Idaho Wants 15 Wolf Packs
Idaho also places wolves into separate categories: endangered north of I-90 and an experimental, non-essential status in the south. In January of this year, the Secretary of Interior and the governor of Idaho signed a memorandum of understanding, turning over wolf management to the state. The state is required to maintain a minimum of 10 breeding pairs or 15 packs, with no limit on total numbers.
Wyoming's Unique Plan for Wolf Population
Wyoming has a unique plan among the six states with resident wolf populations, a plan that has been repeatedly rejected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and federal courts. Initially wolves will be trophy game animals in the National Parks, Parkway, and contiguous wilderness areas (Absaroka-Beartooth, North Absaroka, Washakie, Teton, Jedediah Smith, Winegar Hole, and Gros Ventre). They will be classified as predatory animals in the remainder of the state, and can be killed by anyone, at any time, any where, for any or no reason, just like coyotes. The state is committed to maintain seven packs outside the national parks and parkway. Should the number fall to seven packs or below, the trophy area could be expanded beyond the wilderness areas.