The gray wolf (Canis lupus), a native species that was nearly extirpated early last century, is returning to Washington on its own, dispersing from populations in other states and provinces. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is working to manage this recovering endangered species, guided by a citizen-developed plan to address conflicts with livestock and impacts to other wildlife species. Citizen reports of wolf activity and problems are encouraged as WDFW staff monitor the growth of Washington’s wolves.
The gray wolf (Canis lupus) was listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in the lower 48 states, except for in Minnesota where it was listed as threatened, in 1978 under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (43 FR 9607) (USFWS, 2010a). Prior to this listing four subspecies of wolf, the timber wolf (C. l. lycaon), the Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf (C. l. irremotus), the Mexican wolf (C. l. baileyi), and the Texas gray wolf (C. l. monstrabilis) had been listed separa tely in specific geographic areas (USFWS, 1978).
There is broad acknowledgement that NCEAS has significantly altered the way ecological science is conducted, towards being more collaborative, open, integrative, relevant, and technologically informed. Different from the scientific tradition of solitary lab or fieldwork, NCEAS fosters collaborative synthesis research – assembling interdisciplinary teams to distill existing data, ideas, theories, or methods drawn from many sources, across multiple fields of inquiry, to accelerate the generation of new scientific knowledge at a broad scale.
The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) was asked to perform an independent scientific review of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS or ‘Service’) proposed rule regarding Grey Wolves.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is designed to protect species from extinction as a "consequence of economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern and conservation." This act is designed to protect both the species and “the ecosystems on which endangered species and threatened species depend.”
Wolves are highly social animals, and the family structure is focused around the pack. Packs typically consist of a breeding pair—the “alpha male and alpha female”—and their young from previous years. Pack size doesn’t vary much between years because the wolves that either leave or die each year are replaced by newborn pups.
Northern Rocky Mountain wolves, a subspecies of the gray wolf (Canis lupus), were native to Yellowstone when the park was established in 1872. Predator control was practiced here in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Between 1914 and 1926, at least 136 wolves were killed in the park; by the 1940s, wolf packs were rarely reported. By the 1970s, scientists found no evidence of a wolf population in Yellowstone.
On August 31, 2012, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced its intention to publish a final rule removing gray wolves from the federal list of threatened and endangered species in Wyoming. Wolves will be officially delisted and placed under state management in Wyoming on October 1, 2012. The earliest date wolves could be taken by hunters in Wyoming in the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area (WTGMA) is October 1.
At the end of 2011, at least 98 wolves in 10 packs plus 2 loners occupied Yellowstone National Park. The population size (97 wolves) and number of breeding pairs (8) is the same as at the end of 2010. However, the wolf population on the northern range has declined approximately 60% since 2007, mostly because of a smaller elk population, the main food of northern range wolves.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks obtained full authority to manage wolves throughout the state upon the federal delisting of the Rocky Mountain gray wolf in May 2011. FWP is committed to ensuring the long-term survival of wolves while responsibly managing the population and addressing conflicts with livestock. FWP is also committed to involving hunters and trappers in the sustainable management of the species.