The return of the gray wolf to the Northern Rockies has been one of the greatest conservation success stories and possibly the most controversial.
Since the reintroduction in 1995, wolf numbers have steadily increased in Greater Yellowstone. In 2009, wolves were removed from Endangered Species Act protections in Idaho and Montana, yet they remained protected in Wyoming.
In August 2010, a federal court restored Endangered Species Act protections to wolves, canceling fall wolf hunts and triggering a severe political backlash that continues to reverberate in the halls of Congress and the state legislatures over a year later.
Finally, in 2011, Congress did an end run around the Endangered Species Act and attached a rider to a budget bill that removed protections for wolves in Idaho, Montana and parts of Oregon, Washington and Utah.
Three months after the gray wolf was taken off the Endangered Species list in Idaho and Montana, the Interior Department took wolf management a step backward by reaching a deal in principle with the state of Wyoming that would delist the animal there (read about this in greater detail on GYC's Wyoming Wolf page). The plan moved closer to adoption Sept. 14, 2011, when the Wyoming Game & Fish Commission approved it; the federal government hopes to have a rule in place by October.
In addition, Montana and Idaho have announced their hunting programs for 2011-12. Idaho has adopted a no-quota plan for wolves throughout most of the state, an exception being a 30-wolf quota in the upper Snake River — where there are 18 known wolves. Meanwhile, with its 220-wolf quota throughout the state, Montana comes off looking the most reasonable of the three; the state did hear our concerns about aggressive hunting in the Greater Yellowstone area and came through with limited hunts there.
The Greater Yellowstone Coalition has consistently worked to find the middle ground on wolf management, to move beyond the ongoing conflict toward science-based management and increased tolerance for this iconic animal.
Read about the wolf plans in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
View wolf population trends for these three states here, and the 2010 annual report shows the Northern Rockies wolf populations holding steady.
A minimum of 1,651 wolves in 244 packs, and 111 breeding pairs, roam Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, with 500 wolves calling Greater Yellowstone home.
Our Mission: To move toward sound science-based management and to work on the ground with the people who live, work and recreate in Greater Yellowstone to build greater tolerance for a thriving wolf population. So long as hunting is a part of the equation, the focus should be on removing wolves via fair-chase means in areas where they have been known to cause conflicts with livestock. We are also working to increase social tolerance through education and outreach
GREATER YELLOWSTONE COALITION