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Wyoming Wolf FAQs
Q. How many wolves are in Wyoming?

A. The latest official count of wolves in Wyoming was reported by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in December 2011. At that time, there were estimated to be a minimum of 328 wolves in Wyoming, including 48 packs and 27 breeding pairs. In Wyoming outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation, there were a minimum estimated 224 wolves, 36 packs, and 19 breeding pairs. WGFD is actively monitoring wolf populations and will publish new population estimates in April 2013.

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Q. How do Wyoming's wolf numbers compare to those in other Northern Rocky Mountain states?

A. Like many other species, Wyoming’s wolves are part of a larger population of wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountain region. All segments of this population of wolves are healthy and widely distributed. The last official minimum population estimate for wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountain population was more than 1700. Wyoming has only 11 percent of the wolves in this region.

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Q. Where are Wyoming’s wolves?

A. Nearly all of Wyoming’s wolves are in the northwest corner of the state. Approximately 92 percent of the wolves in Wyoming are in the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area/Seasonal Wolf Trophy Game Management Area, where they are intensively monitored and managed through regulated hunting seasons.

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Q. Who has authority for managing Wyoming’s wolves?

A. In September 2012, management authority for wolves in Wyoming was transferred from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to the state of Wyoming. This coincided with wolves being removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species in Wyoming.

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Q. Why are Wyoming’s wolves designated in different ways in different parts of the state?

A. Wyoming statute specifies that wolves in Wyoming are designated as Trophy Game Animals in the northwest corner of the state and as Predatory Animals in the rest of the state. The northwest portion of Wyoming has suitable habitat to maintain wolf populations. The rest of Wyoming is largely unsuitable wolf habitat, and wolves in these parts of Wyoming often cause conflicts with livestock.

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Q. Why does Wyoming have a wolf hunting season?

A. Wolves in Wyoming have exceeded recovery goals since 2002. As wolf populations expand and move into areas of the state that are primarily used for livestock production, they become increasingly involved in conflicts with livestock. Growing wolf populations can also affect big game populations and associated hunting opportunities in some areas of the state. Hunting is a tool used to manage wolf numbers and distribution, just like hunting is used to manage other species. Hunting wolves helps keep their populations in check and helps reduce conflicts with livestock and wildlife. Hunting seasons are tightly controlled to help ensure wolf populations remain recovered and healthy in northwest Wyoming.

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Q. How does Wyoming determine wolf quotas and hunting seasons?

A. Eleven hunt areas within the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area have a separate mortality quota. When the mortality quota for an individual hunt area is reached, or at the designated end of the season, that area is closed to hunting. The twelfth hunt area has a regulated season that includes a mortality quota during most of the fall and early winter and is closed during late winter to facilitate dispersal of wolves to ensure genetic connectivity. During the seasons when livestock is most vulnerable to damage (spring, summer, and early fall), wolves are classified as predatory animals in this hunt area. Hunt areas with higher levels of livestock conflict, poor elk recruitment, or other impacts to wildlife have higher mortality quotas than areas where these factors are not as significant. Areas that are important for allowing genetic connectivity with other wolves throughout the Northern Rocky Mountains have lower mortality quotas. WGFD biologists determine hunting seasons and overall mortality quotas based on a number of variables including estimated mortality from all factors and annual predicted recruitment of new wolves into the population.

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Q. How many wolves were harvested during the 2012 hunting season?

A. Wyoming’s mortality quota for wolves in the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area/Seasonal Wolf Trophy Game Management Area during the 2012 hunting season was 52. When the season officially ended on December 31, 2012, 42 wolves had been harvested in this area. Six of the 12 hunt areas closed before December 31, because the mortality quotas for those areas had been reached.

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Q. Do hunters need a license to shoot a wolf in Wyoming?

A.In areas of the state where wolves are designated as Trophy Game Animals, hunters need a wolf hunting license to shoot a wolf and can only do so during an open season and in an open hunt area. Successful hunters are required to report their harvest within 24 hours, and it will be counted towards the mortality quota for that hunt area. The hunter must also present the pelt and skull to the Game & Fish within five days for collection of biological samples.

In areas of the state where wolves are designated as Predatory Animals, hunters do not need a license to shoot a wolf and may do so any time of year. Those harvesting a wolf in the predatory area are required to report it to WGFD within 10 days. Anyone who takes a wolf in areas of the state where wolves are classified as Predatory Animals is not required to present the skull or pelt, but the WGFD encourages them to do so to aid in department efforts to monitor wolf populations and genetic interchange throughout the region.

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Q. How many wolves does Wyoming need to maintain to keep them off the Endangered Species List?

A. Wyoming needs to maintain a minimum of 100 individual wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation. However, Wyoming does not intend to manage wolves down to this minimum; instead, the state will maintain an adequate population buffer above minimum recovery levels. The size of the buffer will be determined through an adaptive management approach and may fluctuate based on natural population dynamics and the effects of specific management actions.

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Q. How do you keep track of wolf populations in Wyoming?

A. Wyoming has an intensive program to monitor wolf populations which primarily involves capturing and radio-collaring wolves. Collared wolves are monitored through aerial and ground surveys to determine territory size and location, number of wolves in a pack, reproduction, and breeding pair status. Additional information is obtained from aerial and ground observation of wolves and wolf packs that do not have radio collars. Biological samples are also collected from captured and harvested wolves to determine genetic connectivity with other wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

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Q. If a landowner is having problems with wolves, what are his/her options?

A. In areas of the state where wolves are classified as Predatory Animals, a landowner can take a wolf at any time. This take must be reported to the WGFD within 10 days. In areas of the state where wolves are classified as Trophy Game Animals, landowners should call their local WGFD office. If a landowner witnesses a wolf in the act of damaging livestock or a dog, as defined in Wyoming statute, the landowner may take that wolf. This take must be reported to the WGFD within 72 hours. A livestock owner experiencing chronic wolf damage may request a lethal take permit to take up to two wolves in the specific area where the damage is occurring. For more information for landowners, go to: wgfd.wyo.gov.

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Q. What about collared wolves?

A. Information collected from radio-collared wolves is helpful in maintaining a recovered wolf population and will help ensure the species remains under state management authority in the future. Radio collars allow biologists to more readily locate wolf packs, count adults and pups, and more accurately estimate the number and location of wolf packs in Wyoming. Hunters who harvest a collared wolf in areas of Wyoming where wolves are designated as Trophy Game animals are required to return the radio collar to the WGFD within five days of the date of harvest. Hunters who harvest a collared wolf in areas where wolves are classified as Predatory Animals are required to turn in the radio collar within 10 days of the date of harvest.

It is important to maintain several collared wolves throughout occupied wolf habitat but, as with many other wildlife collaring programs, WGFD’s wildlife managers expect and plan to have collared wolves harvested during hunting seasons and in areas where wolves are designated as Predatory Animals. The WGFD mitigates this impact through the number of collars we place on wolves and the locations of collared wolves.

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