Archive for the ‘grey wolf’ Tag

Re-introducing wolves to Ireland: could we? Should we?   3 comments

From:  Ireland’s Wildlife

January 19, 2015 by Dan Lettice

Centuries ago wolves roamed the wilds of Ireland. In this full-length feature Ireland’s Wildlife contributor Dan Lettice, explores whether or not, one day, they could do so again….

European grey wolf

Could the European grey wolf roam Ireland’s landscapes again? Dan Lettice explores the question (Gunnar Ries [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

Wolves in Ireland: the background

The grey wolf, Canis lupis, was once reasonably common in Ireland and existed on all parts of the Island. The last wolf in Ireland was probably killed in or around 1786 but small populations or individual wolves may have existed into the early 1800’s. Before English rule in the country wolves were hunted, mainly by the ruling classes, and plenty of wolf skins were exported to Britain, but there seems to have been no coordinated attempt to exterminate them. During English rule this changed, and people began to view wolves as a troublesome species and targeted them for extermination. During Cromwell’s rule bounties for wolves were initiated and so began the complete removal of the wolf from the Irish landscape.

The wolf itself was once one of the most common land based mammals on the planet, and existed in the whole of the Northern hemisphere and on the Indian subcontinent. Sub species also existed in parts of Africa and South America. As human populations across Europe grew the wolf population suffered. There were many reasons for this, loss of habitat and decline of prey certainly contributed but a building hatred toward the species, mostly based on myth and folklore, resulted in their removal from large parts of Western Europe, with only isolated populations remaining.

As European Settlers set sail for the New World, North American Wolves suffered the same fate. As the settlers moved west across what is now the United States, wolves were steadily hated into extinction in most of the lower 48 States. No other animal suffered the same level of hatred and concentrated effort to exterminate it.

The almost complete destruction of the North American bison herd and the introduction of domestic cattle compounded the hatred and intensified the extermination effort, as wolves increasingly came into conflict with humans. For a much of the latter 1800’s and early 1900’s a large proportion of this extermination was state-sponsored. Finally in the early part of the 20th century most of North America’s wolves had been exterminated. An animal that was once revered and highly respected by Native Americans suffered the same fate as it had in Europe.

Although populations remained healthy in Canada, Alaska, Russia, and parts of Asia, the grey wolf had been removed from almost everywhere it found itself in proximity to people.

Could the wolf be re-introduced to Ireland?

Grey Wolf, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (Dan Lettice)


Fast forward nearly a century to 2015, and talk of re-introducing wolves to Ireland.

I’ve heard plenty of people arguing for re-introduction, or supporting it, but there are many complex issues that need to be considered before a re-introduction could even be considered. Many people consider wolves the epitome of true wilderness. Perhaps a pang of guilt for our role in their destruction makes some of us desperately want them back in our landscape. I would love, in an ideal world, to have wild wolves roam Ireland again, and I’m not alone, but not at any cost.

Potential benefits of wolves

The re-introduction of a top predator, what was perhaps Ireland’s top predator, into an area would have many benefits. Predators affect not just prey species, but the entire balance of an ecosystem right the way down the food chain. This natural phenomenon, known as trophic cascade, impacts everything from the immediate prey species right down to the primary producers in the ecosystem. When wolves were re-introduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995, for example, elk, which form a large portion of the wolves’ diet in the park, could no longer stay in a feeding area for long periods overgrazing local plant populations. Instead, with wolves to worry about, elk, white tailed deer and mule deer had to be wary, and stay on the move to evade the predators.

We observed this at a distance on a recent visit to Yellowstone. On a faraway hillside a large, strung-out group of elk were feeding in reasonably close proximity to the Junction Butte Wolf pack. Over the course of 5 hours the elk fed on surrounding vegetation, but they were constantly moving and watching the wolves. The wolves kept them ‘honest’ by attempting to take an elk on a few occasions. In the absence of wolves the elk would have continued to overgraze the plant population.

Twenty years after the re-introduction of wolves the trophic cascade effects in Yellowstone are clear. Once over-grazed willows, aspen and other small trees are now thriving. Beavers have re-populated the park to take advantage of this ready supply of food and building material for their dams. Waterfowl, bird, and fish species have moved in to take advantage of the habitats created by the beavers, and so it continues.

From an Irish perspective a re-introduction might result in less tree damage from deer herds which have become over abundant. These deer are the subject of annual culls to control their numbers. In theory, a wolf re-introduction might result in these deer becoming more vigilant, resulting in less damage to our forests in the areas selected. Whether wolves would result in a significant reduction in deer populations is another question. Wolves generally kill weak, sick, young or old deer, and any re-introduction here would likely involve a small, heavily controlled wolf population. In such a scenario a significant reduction of the deer population would be unlikely.

Another potential benefit of wolf re-introduction is a possible eco-tourism opportunity.  Wolf watching, similar to what already exists in Yellowstone, Northern Spain and parts of Scandinavia could potentially contribute significantly to the local economy of re-introduction areas. It may also, selfishly, satisfy our desire to see wolves roam in Ireland once more, bringing a little ‘wild’ back to an Island that in reality has lost most, if not all of its true wilderness.

Reintroduction of wolves: the inevitable down side

Those that argue against a re-introduction on the basis of the ‘danger’ wolves pose to the human population are barking up the wrong tree if you’ll pardon the pun. Research and experience worldwide proves that wolves are no more a danger to humans than any other large wild mammal. Wolf fatalities worldwide in the last century are few and far between. In North America, including Canada, there were no recorded deaths after 1900 until the early part of this century. Two deaths occurred in Alberta province in Canada since 2000. One is probable the other one is certain. One was possibly down to wolves that had been habituated to humans through irresponsible feeding.

Despite these incidences you are far far more likely to be killed in North America by a moose, elk, bison, or indeed a domestic dog. The same would apply here, you would be infinitely more likely to be injured by your own or a neighbour’s dog or in the ‘wild’ by something like a large red deer, than you would by a wolf.

As long as wolves aren’t fed by humans (an incredibly stupid and irresponsible practice, resulting in habituation) then they want absolutely nothing to do with us. There have been deaths recorded on the Indian subcontinent but these were down to rabid wolves, a problem we would not have here. In short a re-introduction here would pose no threat to the human population. Wolves are not the demonic killing machines they are depicted to be by some people. They are highly evolved social animals and, similar to humans in the sense that family bonds are so strong, possibly the strongest of all animals, including chimpanzees and gorillas. Family bonds and interactions govern almost everything wolves do.

While the advantages of re-introduction are clear the difficulties associated with such an undertaking on our part, and perhaps more importantly for the wolves, are less clearly understood and rarely discussed.

Wolf populations are recovering in Europe, and wolves now exist in most European countries, Ireland is a different proposition, as is the Britain. Most of the recovery in Europe has been the result of re-population of areas from extant neighbouring populations, rather than the physical re-introduction of animals. Wolves from Italy (which never fully died out) have re-populated parts of France and Switzerland. Wolves from Eastern Europe moved westward and now occupy parts of Germany. In the US some argue that even without a formal re-introduction programme in Yellowstone and Central Idaho wolves were already moving through Alberta in Canada into Montana and Idaho and would have continued the natural expansion of their range. Wolves have also repopulated Oregon, Wisconsin, and Washington State naturally, without re-introduction.

Some reports suggest Ireland, Great Britain, Holland and Denmark are now the only European countries without a wild wolf population, although a dead wolf may have been discovered recently in Holland. Ireland and Britain would require a physical re-introduction of the species, and this presents many more difficulties.

Location, location, location

Glenveigh National Park -- a possible site for wolf re-introduction in Ireland

Glenveigh National Park — a possible site for wolf re-introduction in Ireland (by Michal Osmenda , [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

Firstly we need to consider where we would re-introduce them. Our largest National Park, Glenveagh National Park in Donegal is 170 square kilometres in size. To put this into context, Yellowstone National Park is nearly 9,000 square kilometres in size, and Cairngorms National Park in Scotland is over 4,500 square kilometres in size. While a wolf pack can live in a relatively small area given abundant prey, our parks are small and are not buffered by wilderness areas. Using Yellowstone or Cairgorms again as an example they are buffered by wilderness areas outside the park, in particular Yellowstone which is buffered by the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem with many large areas of wild country.

Prey abundance may not be an issue, at least initially, as wolves will eat almost anything, rabbits, hares, deer, carrion, wild goats and sheep (which may exist in Glenveagh) in some cases fish and even mice and rats. Where difficulties may begin to arise is when the wolf population grows, and grow it will. Pack size would increase significantly each year, assuming prey abundance and successful breeding. Wolf packs would inevitably drive some individuals out and some may leave of their own accord. These bigger packs would require more food and need to range further. The individual animals who have left the pack will wander in search of a mate and a territory. This will lead them outside the park and into contact with humans either directly or indirectly through interactions with farm animals.

Wolf / human interaction, perception and persecution

While wolves now exist in Europe in areas where the average human population is 37.5 people per sq KM (Donegal has a population density of 33 people per sq KM), Irish wolves would be wandering into areas where people have no experience of dealing with large predators, and have been led to believe, through myth and fairytale, that wolves are savage killing machines. Wolves kill when they need to feed themselves or their young, and despite what some might have us believe, they do not kill for fun or kill more than what they need. So while they won’t devastate or severely impact anyone’s livestock, they will come into contact with them and occasionally take cattle and sheep.

Even with extensive control of the wolf population (as discussed below), some livestock losses will occur. Our landscape, outside national parks, is heavily farmed, making farm animal encounters and losses almost inevitable. Acceptance of this loss would take a massive change in attitudes by people in the area and would also need the introduction of a program to compensate farmers for their losses.

While we have other nature reserves and protected areas outside our natural parks these are detached from each other and, again, are small. Wildlife corridors, which might allow wolves to pass between reserves and parks, simply do not exist here.

Our only experience of reintroductions are those of the golden eagle in Donegal, white-tailed eagle (WTE) in Kerry and Red Kite to Wicklow. While all of these programmes have successfully led to the first breeding of these birds in the wild in Ireland for a long time, they have not been without difficulties.

The reintroduction of the WTE in Killarney in particular met with a lot of resistance. Some representatives of the farming community protested at the airport as the first chicks arrived from Norway. They protested that the eagles would decimate their sheep herds with one prominent member even raising the issue of the safety of small children when the eagles were re-introduced. There have also been many poisoning and shooting incidences involving all 3 re-introduced species. No prosecutions for any of these wildlife crimes have been taken and like many other countries, Ireland’s record of dealing with wildlife crime is poor. This does not bode well for re-introduced wolves here. While education and communication will convince a lot of people it wont convince them all, and wolves would be a much harder sell given their unjustified reputation, the likelihood they would take some livestock, and the fact they are on terra firma rather than flying above our heads like the eagles.

The difficulties discussed above are significant, as would be the financial commitment. Research would need to be preformed, studies carried out, wolves transported, legislation enacted or reviewed, wolf populations sourced and compensated for, wolf management strategies developed and enacted, and those management strategies continued throughout the program. The ongoing wolf management would require telemetry equipment, wolf collars, periodic flights over the park, education programs, ongoing public consultation and full time personnel to carry it out. Compensation programmes for farmers, as discussed above, could also prove costly.

Never mind “could we” — how about “should we”?

Grey Wolf Norway

European grey wolves in southern Norway (photo AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Marius K. Eriksen via Flickr)


The difficulties discussed thus far are ecological, physical and financial ones, but what about the moral and ethical ones?

The most important aspect in all this discussion needs to be the welfare of the wolves themselves. Wolves for re-introduction here in Ireland would be sourced from multiple populations to give an initial genetic diversity. More wolves would possibly need to be added later to maintain this genetic diversity and prevent inbreeding, although wolves often disperse to avoid this. Even if the source country or countries agree to this, given our failure to stem poisoning and shooting of our re-introduced raptors, it could apply significant pressure on source populations.

The physical collection of wolves would pose difficulties and is likely to result in some losses. They would be collected by trapping, snaring or incapacitation by dart from a helicopter. All of these methods pose risks. During the collection of animals for the Yellowstone re-introduction programme at least 10 wolves died early in the process through trapping and snaring and at least one died during incapacitation from helicopter. One might argue that techniques have evolved and improved since then, but some losses would almost certainly occur.

Removal of alpha (lead) animals from a pack would cause huge upheaval, and studies show that it would almost certainly lead to the break up of the pack. Packs that may have been in existence for generations could literally be wiped out by the removal of perhaps just one animal. Wolves may also attempt to make their way back to their own territories. Relocation of wolves in Alaska’s Denali National Park has led to them returning hundreds of miles to their previous locations. Obviously wolves introduced in Ireland would be unable to do that, but the instinct to return home could lead them to wander into areas where they will subsequently need to be removed from.

Wolves re-introduced in Ireland would need to be heavily managed, some might say controlled. It’s likely that their locations would need to be monitored daily, and that at several animals in the pack would be burdened with telemetry collars. Wolves may need to be re-captured if they move into areas deemed undesirable, and pups may have to be relocated if adults den outside the national park they are introduced into.

Would such a heavily monitored and managed population really mean we have wild wolves in Ireland again?

The verdict

In my opinion, while the re-introduction of wolves here might have some benefits, both ecologically and psychologically for us, there would be no benefit whatsoever to the wolf, either as a species, or to the individual animals released here. The number reintroduced would, by necessity, be small, extensively managed, and their population artificially controlled. Given the difficulties discussed above in relation to space, and interactions with humans, any such reintroduction would stand a reasonable probability of failing, resulting in the destruction of all of the wolves concerned. It would also have a significant negative impact on source populations.

Re-introduction in Ireland would not result in any increase in the the worldwide wolf population, and would simply be an exercise to satisfy our own selfish needs.

For re-introduction to even be considered in Ireland we would need a massive change in perception, understanding and attitude towards wolves and predators in general. We would need far more extensive wilderness areas, and a well established network of wildlife corridors to connect them. Wolves haven’t roamed free in Ireland for at least 200 years, and personally I don’t think they will be doing so again any time soon.

These are my own views on wolf re-introduction in Ireland, and I welcome debate about the subject via comments here or at


  • Wolves, Behaviour, Ecology, and Conservation, L.David Mech and Luigi Boitani
  • Among Wolves, Gordon Haber and Marybeth Holleman
  • Wolves in Ireland, Kieran Hickey
  • Wolf Wars, Hank Fischer
  • Decade of the Wolf, Douglas W. Smith and Gary Ferguson
  • Shadow Mountain, Renee Askins
  • A Wolf Called Romeo, Nick Jans
  • In the Temple of Wolves, Rick Lamplugh
  • Recovery of large carnivores in Europes’s modern human dominated landscapes.




The Himalayan Wolf   Leave a comment

From:  The Wolf Army

Himalayan Wolves (Canis himalayaensis)

Recently the Himalayan wolf was identified as a sub species of Canis Lupus(Grey Wolf) by using DNA testing.
The Himalayan wolf is now considered to be possibly the oldest living lineage existing of all wolf species today.
Sharing habitat with both the Indian wolf and the Eurasian wolf in the Himalayan region, the Himalayas is also the only place in the world where these three species of wolf exist simultaneously. This is also supporting the theory that the India region is most likely the home of modern wolf evolution.
Even though these three species of wolf share habitat, inter species clashes are non existent.
The Himalayan wolf keeps mainly to small sections of Mongolia, China, Kashmir and India. There are only about 350 of these wolves left but only in India are they protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act. A captive breeding program is underway in India to try and save the Himalayan wolf from extinction but sadly it is still very vulnerable due to farmers and ranchers killing and trapping them.
Studies show that this wolf species is possibly eight hundred thousand to one million years old.

A Himalayan wolf in the captive breeding program in India

Himalayan wolves in the wild



Wolf-killers admit it’s all about the sadistic sexual thrill   1 comment


by Cathy Taibbi

The photos say it all. The wolf killers come right out and admit it - It's all about their own sadistic, sexual thrills.

The photos say it all. The wolf killers come right out and admit it - It's all about their own sadistic, sexual thrills.

The photos say it all. The wolf killers come right out and admit it – It’s all about their own sadistic, sexual thrills.

(Anonymous sources, captured from anti-wolf hate page) See more photos here.

**UPDATE 4/23/2013 – New link to video evidence of hunter behavior toward their victims. in the field, where no one else is watching. CAUTION, Viewer discretion is advised.

*Caution – Disturbing sexual content involving animal abuse.

The captions on the photos say it all.

I’ve loaded the captioned photos into the slide-show, after a cover image, so children can’t accidentally read them.

These screen shots were captured from a typical anti-wolf, anti-predator, “All American” Bible-thumping pro-hunting, trapping and animal-torture Facebook page, the name of which I’ve decided to not reveal here, because they don’t need more views..

The members of this Facebook page come right out and publicly admit (brag is more like it) to ‘getting wood’ when seeing wolves trapped, tortured and killed, whether in images or in real life. They feel ‘orgasmic’ hunting, trapping, killing, butchering, and even eating their victims.

It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to know what else they are doing when torturing wolves to death.

But at least now the truth has been revealed: The ‘need’ to hunt and trap wolves is not about ‘wildlife management’ or protection of life or property. Instead, it’s actually about the ‘need’ of psychologically-sick individuals to ‘get off’ sexually by torturing an animal they love to hate.

It gives the notion of evil a whole new dimension.The disturbingly lascivious, uninhibited individuals in hate groups like the ones posting these photos obviously ‘get off’ on sadism and animal torture.

Maybe they’re just trying to hurt wolf-advocates. Maybe it’s a nose-thumbing, flaunting, taunting tactic designed to torment those who love animals.

You see, they’re bullies, too.

Underlying all the unforgiving and ultimately lethal anti-wolf/anti-predator legislation being passed recently, of course, is greed, fueled by fear (and the active, purposeful fear-mongering and misinformation associated with group hysteria and mind control), and catalyzed by a nameless, formless hatred which malcontents and other paranoid people coalesce into form through their focus on one particularly convenient, integral, dynamic, ecologically crucial, intentionally misunderstood and emotionally charged iconic species; the grey wolf.

Sounds deep, confusing, complex.

However, in a nutshell, what they are saying plainly is that torturing animals is sexually arousing for them.

That’s it.

What else does it say about them, when they don’t mind coming out and bragging about that publicly?

Sounds kind of like the behavior of serial-killers, to me.

Yet, they sell themselves as heroes. Whatever it takes to justify their perversion.

Do we really want people like this freely expressing their fetishes on the Internet (where children can be traumatized – or worse, titillated – by them), or acting them out using our wildlife or pets?

What’s happened to our society, when any show of ethics, decorum or empathy is treated as a liability to be ridiculed, threatened and treated derisively, while a site enabling perverted, sadistic sexual thrills from abusing animals is considered free speech?

These kinds of pages are no better than so-called ‘crush videos‘ (movies of innocent, live animals being stomped, cut apart with scissors, burned, etc., and sold to perverts who like to masturbate while watching) except that, being based more in the ‘traditional sports’ of hunting and trapping, these (for now, at least) manage to sneak by legally.

Is anyone else reminded of the decadence, violence and mob mentality of the last days of the Roman Empire?

Hunting, trapping and other hate/fetish sites need to be dealt with in the same fashion as perpetrators of illegal crush videos. The penalties for gratuitous animal abuse need to be severe. The moral fiber and safety of our society is definitely at risk.

Would you want your child to stumble upon pages like these? Or meet one of these disturbingly slanted people on the street?

Naturally, if anyone with any conscience, empathy, sympathy or sensitivity (or clear moral sense of right and wrong) dares disagree with such misconduct, the members of this and other anti-wolf/pro-hunting and trapping sites are all too happy to go on the attack, considering any show of outrage or concern for the hapless creatures signs of weakness, against which they’ll sling nasty insults, slurs and slander.

But it’s more than just heated, probably (hopefully) harmless ugly words. Those speaking out against such acts, and such sites, are regularly stalked, harassed and heckled.

Even that’s not so bad.

The bad is that some whistle-blowers have had their lives threatened. And their names, addresses and phone numbers have been made public to prove that the wolf-killers can get to them, if they want to.

Yup. These are scary individuals.

And our politicians are pandering to them.

It’s a sad and disheartening statement about where America is at this point.

* I’m including some links to telling articles which put the spotlight on the sexual aspect of so-called ‘sport’ hunting, and the desire of certain people to lust after this thrill-killing ‘hobby’. Very scary to see the multitude of search results, where the evidence is painfully clear that killing and torturing animals is sexually gratifying to psychologically unhealthy people. and absolutely leads to child porn, child abuse, serial-killing and murder/torture fetishes where the victims are human. What this says about the state of our society is downright horrifying.

Animals and Hunting (Psychology Today online edition)

Wolf management: Science, not human behavior, is key (The Missoulian)

The thrill of killing replaced sex
The psychiatrist who met mass murderer says he was a classic necrophiliac. Nigel Bunyan reports The Telegraph (Even if not targeting animals, the mechanism is the same)

Hunting, Climate Change and the Future of Food
– The Daily Beast
“While Steven Rinella celebrates the thrill of killing what ends up on his plate in ‘Meat Eater,’ environmental analyst Lester R. Brown examines an ominous growing global scarcity.”

House Passes Ban On ‘Crush’ Videos Huffington Post

The Crush. A public webpage of The Outdoor Channel (a hunting site) that comes right out and displays hunters‘ ‘trophy’ photos AS PORN for it’s readers. This is the truth, and why sport hunting and trapping needs to be banned as perversions, exactly as other ‘crush’ videos and activities are being banned.

Finally, for the more evolved among us (or those striving to be), I include one more link: Hope for a real solution, a ‘from the inside, out’ path for healing humanity – and the new (ancient) paradigm that just might save our imperiled planet. The Power of the Herd by Linda Kohanov (author of The Tao of Equus) offers fascinating research, provocative insights and real solutions so we can live in a less damaging, less dominating, less controlling, less predatory way – Becoming happier, more dynamic and more empowered, without feeling the need to victimize anything or anyone else.

So important is her work that I hope to delve more deeply into her message in future columns.


Gray Wolves are Recovered; Next Up, the Mexican Wolf   3 comments

Gray Wolves are Recovered; Next Up, the Mexican Wolf

Posted At : June 7, 2013 10:06 AM | Posted By : Trott, Matthew E
Related Categories: Gray_wolfEndangered Species Actplains bisondirector_blogMexican wolfWolves


wolfWe are proposing to remove gray wolves from the list of threatened and endangered species throughout the United States and Mexico. Photo by Gary Kramer/USFWS


As many of you probably know, my dad had a great, 37-year career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and he describes the outfit as a collection of people who get things done — doers.  Nowhere is that trait more proudly displayed than in our four decade effort to restore the gray wolf to the American landscape, bringing the species back from extirpation and exile from the contiguous United States.

I’m the 16th Director of the Service. It was the 10th, John Turner, a Wyoming rancher and outfitter, appointed by a Republican President, who signed the record of decision that set in motion this miraculous reintroduction and recovery. It’s never been easy. We’ve had critics, fair and unfair. We’ve had great partners. Sometimes they have been one in the same. But this organization and its people have been constant. Steadfast. Committed. Professional. Determined. Now add successful!

More information on the wolf recovery

This great predator again roams the range, ridges and remote spaces of the Northern Rocky Mountains and the Western Great Lakes in one of the spectacular successes of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  These recovered populations are not just being tolerated, but are expanding under professional management by our state partners.

Today, for one reason, and one reason only, we are proposing to remove the gray wolf from the list of threatened and endangered species throughout the United States and Mexico — they are no longer in danger of extinction now or in the foreseeable future.



National Elk Refuge Biologist Eric Cole affixes a collar on a male black wolf pup. We have been working on gray wolf recovery for decades. Photo by Lori Iverson/USFWS

Due to our steadfast commitment, gray wolves in the Lower 48 now represent a 400-mile southern range extension of a vast contiguous wolf population that numbers more than 12,000 wolves in western Canada and about 65,000 wolves across all of Canada and Alaska. Canadian and U.S. wolves interact and move freely between the two nations.

Of course, the gray wolf is not everywhere it once was, nor can it be; think Denver, or Minneapolis, or Salt Lake City, or even the now grain- and livestock-dominated American Plains. It’s not everywhere it can be, but our work has created the potential that it may be one day. 

One thing, though, is certain: It is no longer endangered or threatened with extinction.  The ESA has done its job. Broader restoration of wolves is now possible. Indeed, it is likely. As we propose to remove ESA protections, states like Washington and Oregon are managing expanding populations under protective state laws.

And as in almost every aspect of our work, there is vigorous debate.  Can a species be considered “recovered” if it exists in only a portion of its former range, or if significant habitat is yet unoccupied?  Our answer is “yes” and we don’t need to look far for other examples.


Bison on the National Bison Range in Montana. Photo by USFWS

Consider the plains bison, another magnificent, iconic animal that once roamed and ruled North American plains, coast to coast. We aren’t certain how many, but possibly 75 million. Today, there are about half a million, and they inhabit a fraction of their historical range.

But are they threatened or endangered?  No.  And in 2011, we denied a petition to give the bison Endangered Species Act protection. Wild populations are secure and growing. It doesn’t mean we don’t care about bison; it means they do not need the protections of the ESA.

Like the bison, the gray wolf no longer needs those protections.

Some say we’re abandoning wolf recovery before it is complete. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, we’re proposing to hand over the management of these keystone predators to the professionals at the state and tribal wildlife agencies. We’ve been working hand-in-glove with these folks to recover the gray wolf. Their skill helped bring gray wolves back, and now they’ll work to keep wolves as a part of the landscape for future generations.

I’ve always liked the analogy of the ESA as biodiversity’s emergency room.  We are given patient species that need intensive care.  We stabilize them; we get them through recovery.  Then we hand them to other providers who will ensure they get the long-term care that they need and deserve.

We have brought back this great icon of the American wilderness.  And as we face today’s seemingly insurmountable challenges, today’s critical voices, today’s political minefields, let this success be a reminder of what we can accomplish.  We can work conservation miracles, because we have.  The gray wolf is proof.

Mexican wolf

our 2012 count showed a record number of Mexican wolves in the wild. Photo by Jim Clark/USFWS

Now it’s time for us to focus our limited resources on Mexican wolf recovery and on other species that are immediately threatened with extinction.  

That is why we also proposed today to continue federal protection and expand recovery efforts for the Mexican wolf, by designating it as an endangered subspecies under the ESA and proposing modifications to the regulations governing the existing nonessential experimental population.

We have received good news on the Mexican wolf recently – the 2012 population count showed a record high number of Mexican wolves in the wild.  We have a long way to go, but we are seeing success, and we will apply the same steadfast commitment, the same dedication and the same professionalism that has been the hallmark of our gray wolf success.

By employing the full protections of the ESA for the Mexican wolf, I am confident that one day we’ll be celebrating their full recovery just like we are, today, with the gray wolf.

**Disclaimer: All the views portrayed in the article above are those of employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. **

Gray wolf (Canis lupus)   Leave a comment

Gray wolf (Canis lupus)

Kingdom: Animalia       Class: Mammalia       Order: Carnivora       Family: Canidae

Listing Status:  Endangered (and others listed below)

General Information

The Gray Wolf, being a keystone predator, is an integral component of the ecosystems to which it typically belongs. The wide range of habitats in which wolves can thrive reflects their adaptability as a species, and includes temperate forests, mountains, tundra, taiga, and grasslands.

Population detail

The FWS is currently monitoring the following populations of the Gray wolf 

  • Population location: U.S.A.: All of AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MO, MS, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT and WV; those portions of AZ, NM, and TX not included in an experimental population as set forth below; and portions of IA, IN, IL, ND, OH, OR, SD, UT, and WA as follows: (1) Southern IA, (that portion south of the centerline of Highway 80); (2) Most of IN (that portion south of the centerline of Highway 80); (3) Most of IL (that portion south of the centerline of Highway 80); (4) Western ND (that portion south and west of the Missouri River upstream to Lake Sakakawea and west of the centerline of Highway 83 from Lake Sakakawea to the Canadian border); (5) Most of OH (that portion south of the centerline of Highway 80 and east of the Maumee River at Toledo); (6) Western OR (that portion of OR west of the centerline of Highway 395 and Highway 78 north of Burns Junction and that portion of OR west of the centerline of Highway 95 south of Burns Junction); (7) Western SD (that portion south and west of the Missouri River); (8) Most of Utah (that portion of UT south and west of the centerline of Highway 84 and that portion of UT south of Highway 80 from Echo to the UT / WY Stateline); and (9) Western WA (that portion of WA west of the centerline of Highway 97 and Highway 17 north of Mesa and that portion of WA west of the centerline of Highway 395 south of Mesa). Mexico.
    Listing status:  Endangered 
    This population has been proposed for delisting 
  • Population location: U.S.A. (portions of AZ, NM and TX – see section 17.84(k))
    Listing status:  Experimental Population, Non-Essential 
  • Population location: Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment; Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan; the eastern half of North Dakota and South Dakota; the northern half of Iowa; the northern portions of Illinois and Indiana; and the northwestern portion of Ohio.
    Listing status:  Delisted due to Recovery 
  • Population location: Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf Distinct Population Segment; Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, and north central Utah
    Listing status:  Delisted due to Recovery 
  • Population location: U.S.A. (WY see 17.84 (i) and (n))
    Listing status:  Delisted due to Recovery 

Current Listing Status Summary
Status Date Listed Lead Region Where Listed
Endangered 03/11/1967 Mountain-Prairie Region (Region 6) U.S.A.: All of AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MO, MS, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT and WV; those portions of AZ, NM, and TX not included in an experimental population; and portions of IA, IN, IL, ND, OH, OR, SD, UT, and WA. Mexico.
Experimental Population, Non-Essential 01/12/1998 Southwest Region (Region 2) Mexican gray wolf, EXPN population
Delisted due to Recovery 01/27/2012 Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region (Region 3) Western Great Lakes DPS
Delisted due to Recovery 05/05/2011 Mountain-Prairie Region (Region 6) Northern Rocky Mountain DPS (delisted, except WY)
Delisted due to Recovery 05/05/2011 Mountain-Prairie Region (Region 6) WY, EXPN population

» Federal Register Documents

Most Recent Federal Register Documents (Showing 5 of 64: view all)
Date Citation Page Title
06/13/2013 78 FR 35663 35719 Removing the Gray Wolf(Canis lupus) From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Maintaining Protections for the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi ) by Listing It as Endangered; Proposed Revision to the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf; Proposed Rules
06/13/2013 78 FR 35719 35742 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Revision To the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf
10/09/2012 77 FR 61375 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on Petitions To List the Mexican Gray Wolf as an Endangered Subspecies or Distinct Population Segment With Critical Habitat
09/10/2012 77 FR 55530 55604 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removal of the Gray Wolf in Wyoming From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Removal of the Wyoming Wolf Population’s Status as an Experimental Population
05/01/2012 77 FR 25664 25668 Reopening of Comment Period on the Proposed Rule to Remove Gray Wolf in Wyoming From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Remove Wyoming Wolf Population’s Status as an Experimental Population
Most Recent Special Rule Publications (Showing 4 of 4)
Date Citation Page Title
01/28/2008 73 FR 4720 4736 Revision of Special Regulation for the Central Idaho and Yellowstone Area Nonessential Experimental Populations of Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains
07/06/2007 72 FR 36942 36949 Proposed Revision of Special Regulation for the Central Idaho and Yellowstone Area Nonessential Experimental Populations of Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains
01/12/1998 63 FR 1752 1772 ETWP; Establishment of a Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Gray Wolf in Arizona and New Mexico
05/01/1996 61 FR 19237 19248 ETWP; Proposed Establishment of a Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Gray Wolf in Arizona and New Mexico

» Action Plans

Action Plans (Showing 1 of 1)
Date Title
08/21/2009 Mexican wolf spotlight species action plan

» Recovery

Recovery Plan Information Search

Current Recovery Plan(s)
Date Title Plan Action Status Plan Status
05/05/2010 Final Mexican Wolf Conservation Assessment Recovery efforts in progress, but no implementation information yet to display Conservation Strategy
08/03/1987 Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Plan View Implementation Progress Final Revision 1
01/31/1992 Recovery Plan for the Eastern Timber Wolf – Revised View Implementation Progress Final Revision 1
09/15/1982 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan View Implementation Progress Final
05/05/2010 Final Mexican Wolf Conservation Assessment Recovery efforts in progress, but no implementation information yet to display Conservation Strategy
Other Recovery Documents (Showing 5 of 23: view all)
Date Citation Page Title Document Type
06/13/2013 78 FR 35663 35719 Removing the Gray Wolf(Canis lupus) From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Maintaining Protections for the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi ) by Listing It as Endangered; Proposed Revision to the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf; Proposed Rules
  • Proposed Delisting, Original Data in Error – Not a listable entity
09/10/2012 77 FR 55530 55604 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removal of the Gray Wolf in Wyoming From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Removal of the Wyoming Wolf Population’s Status as an Experimental Population
  • Final Delisting, Recovered
12/28/2011 76 FR 81666 81726 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revising the Listing of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) in the Western Great Lakes
  • Final Delisting, Recovered
10/05/2011 76 FR 61782 61823 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants, Removal of the Gray Wolf in Wyoming From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Removal of the Wyoming Wolf Population’s Status as an Experimental Population
  • Proposed Delisting, Recovered
09/19/2011 76 FR 57943 57944 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revising the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife for the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) in the Eastern United States
  • Notice Doc. Availability
Five Year Review
Date Title
02/29/2012 Lower 48 State and Mexico C. lupus listing, as revised. 5 YSR
Delisting Documents
Date Title
06/04/2007 Draft Post Delisting Monitoring Plan

» Critical Habitat

Current Critical Habitat Documents (Showing 2 of 2)
Date Citation Page Title Document Type Status
03/09/1978 43 FR 9607 9615 Reclassification of the Gray Wolf in the U.S. and Mexico with Determination of Critical Habitat in Michigan and Minnisota Final Rule Final designated
06/09/1977 42 FR 29527 29532 Proposed Reclassification of Gray wolf in U.S. and Mexico,Proposed Critical Habitat, Michigan and Minnesota; 42 FR 29527 29532 (Canis lupus) Proposed Rule Not Required

To learn more about critical habitat please see

» Conservation Plans

Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP) (learn more) (Showing 5 of 6: view all)
HCP Plan Summaries
Cedar River Watershed HCP
City of Tacoma, Tacoma Water HCP
Plum Creek Timber I-90 HCP
Plum Creek Timber I-90 Land Exchange
Washington Dept. Natural Resources Forest Lands HCP
Safe Harbor Agreements (SHA): (learn more) (Showing 1 of 1)
SHA Plan Summaries
Paterson, Thomas W. and Caroline H. (Spur Ranch)

» Petitions

Most Recent Petition Findings (Showing 5 of 10: view all)
Date Citation Page Title Finding
10/09/2012 77 FR 61375 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on Petitions To List the Mexican Gray Wolf as an Endangered Subspecies or Distinct Population Segment With Critical Habitat
  • Notice 12 month petition finding, Not warranted
09/14/2010 75 FR 55730 55735 90-Day Finding on Petitions To Delist the Gray Wolf in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and the Western Great Lakes
  • Notice 90-day Petition Finding, Substantial
08/04/2010 75 FR 46894 46898 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Mexican Gray Wolf as an Endangered Subspecies With Critical Habitat
  • Notice 90-day Petition Finding, Substantial
06/10/2010 75 FR 32869 32872 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List a Distinct Population Segment of the Gray Wolf in the Northeastern United States as Endangered
  • Notice 90-day Petition Finding, Not substantial
08/01/2006 71 FR 43410 43432 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition To Establish the Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf Population (Canis lupus) as a Distinct Population Segment To Remove the Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf Distinct Population Segment From the List of Endangered and Threatened Species
  • Notice 12 month petition finding, Not warranted

» Life History

Habitat Requirements

Wolves are habitat generalists and lived thorughout the northern hemisphere. They only require ungulate prey and human-casued mortality rates that are not excessive.

Food Habits

Ungulates [wild and domestic] are the typical prey of wolves, but wolves also readily scavenge. Beaver are among the smallest important prey but wolves can utilize smaller mamals, birds, and fish.

Movement / Home Range

Wolves packs defend their territories from other wolves. Territory size is a function of prey density and can range from 25-1,500 square miles. Both male and female wolves disperse at equal rates and equal distances, sometimes >600 miles.

Reproductive Strategy

Normally first breed as yearings and once a year in February. One to 10 pups [normally ~5] are born 63 days later. Pups normally stay with pack until > 1 yrear old.

» Other Resources

NatureServe Explorer Species Reports — NatureServe Explorer is a source for authoritative conservation information on more than 50,000 plants, animals and ecological communtities of the U.S and Canada. NatureServe Explorer provides in-depth information on rare and endangered species, but includes common plants and animals too. NatureServe Explorer is a product of NatureServe in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network.

ITIS Reports — ITIS (the Integrated Taxonomic Information System) is a source for authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

Last updated: June 13, 2013

Successful Recovery Efforts Prompt Service Proposal to Delist Gray Wolf   Leave a comment

Successful Recovery Efforts Prompt Service Proposal to Delist Gray Wolf

June 7, 2013

Four decades of work by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners to protect and recover the gray wolf (Canis lupus) have successfully brought the species back from the brink of extinction in the western Great Lakes and Northern Rocky Mountains. As a result of these successful efforts to ensure that the gray wolf is no longer threatened with extinction as a species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to remove it from the list of threatened and endangered species throughout the United States and Mexico, while maintaining protection for the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) in the Southwest.

The Service will continue federal protection and expand recovery efforts for the Mexican wolf in the Southwest by proposing to designate the Mexican wolf as an endangered subspecies under the Endangered Species Act and to modify existing regulations governing the nonessential experimental population. Outside of that recovery area, management and protection of wolves would be returned to state wildlife management agency professionals, following approved wolf management plans in states where wolves occur or are likely to occur in the future.

NOTE: The two proposed rules published in the Federal Register on June 13, 2013. The Fish and Wildlife Service welcomes public comment, which will be accepted for 90 days from the date of publication through 11:59 p.m. on September 11, 2013. Guidance on how to provide comment is provided here. Please visit to view all Federal Register notices, and to submit an electronic comment.

News Release

What Supporters Are Saying


Federal Register NoticesGray wolf or view pdfMexican wolf or view pdf:

More information: Gray wolf profile page

Regional Information: Gray wolf: Mountain Prairie RegionMidwest Region; Mexican wolf: Southwest Region

USFWS Gray Wolf Flickr Page

FWS Director Dan Ashe blog on wolves


Fish and Wildlife proposes removing ESA protections for gray wolf   2 comments

Fish and Wildlife proposes removing ESA protections for gray wolf

Despite a rumored momentary hold, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has formally announced its proposal to delist the gray wolf in all areas of the contiguous United States except for the southwestern wolf recovery area.

Media attention on the proposal drew both praise and criticism from various interest groups and individuals.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) expressed support for USFWS’ proposal to delist the gray wolf. However, the livestock associations want Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest to also be delisted. 

“We appreciate USFWS’ recognition that the gray wolf is recovered,” NCBA President and Wyoming rancher Scott George stated. “But it’s also time to end the unwarranted listing of the Mexican wolf. Wolf depredation threatens ranchers’ livelihoods and rural communities, as well as the economies relying on a profitable agricultural industry.” 

In a letter to USFWS Director Dan Ashe, 16 scientists representing varying fields of study, including one wolf biologist, expressed their opposition to the delisting announcement. In the letter, dated May 21, the group urged USFWS to reconsider its proposal and specified four concerns with the action:

  • The proposal prevents future wolf populations in areas of adequate habitat such as parts of California and the Northeast.
  • The draft rule fails to delineate the protected area for Mexican gray wolf recovery.
  • USFWS’ acknowledgement that more research needs to be done regarding the designation of Canis lycaon as a distinct species in the United States goes without next steps.
  • Wolves in the Pacific Northwest whose origin is from British Columbia are not considered a distinct population segment.

USFWS will open a 90-day comment period during which information will be reviewed and addressed in the final determination of the proposal, which is expected to occur in early 2014. The comment period is expected to open this week.

Providing feedback during the public comment period allows interested individuals and groups to be involved in this public process. Additionally, if you or your group would like to request a public hearing in your region, USFWS will take requests in writing within 45 days of the proposal’s publication in the Federal Register.

UPDATE: The two proposed rules will publish in the Federal Register on June 13, 2013. The Fish and Wildlife Service will be accepting public comments for 90 days immediately following publication, through 11:59 p.m. on September 11, 2013. Guidance on how to provide comment is provided in Addresses section of each proposed rule. Please visit to view all Federal Register notices, and to submit an electronic comment.

Related links

Public comment information
NCBA and PLC press release
Letter from 16 Scientists to USFWS Director Dan Ashe


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