Date of this Version
The gray wolf (Canis lupus) population in the Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) states (Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming) continued to increase in distribution and numbers (Figure 1, Tables 4a, 4b). Estimates of wolf numbers at the end of 2004 were 452 wolves in the Central Idaho Recovery Area (CID), 324 in the Greater Yellowstone Recovery Area (GYA), and 59 in the Northwest Montana Recovery Area (NWMT) for a total of 835 wolves (Figure 1, Table 4a). By state boundaries, there were an estimated 422 wolves in the state of Idaho, 260 in Wyoming and 153 in Montana (Table 4b). Of approximately 110 packs (groups of 2 or more wolves), 66 packs met the definition of “breeding pair,” defined as an adult male and female raising 2 or more pups until December 31 (Tables 4a, 4b). This made 2004 the fifth year in which 30 or more breeding pairs were documented within the 3-state area. Recovery criteria have been met for removing NRM wolves from the Endangered Species list. Wolves in the area subsisted mainly on elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose, and bison. Livestock depredations in 2004 included 128 cattle, 270 sheep, and 9 dogs that were confirmed as killed by wolves (Tables 5a, 5b). Approximately 39 of 110 known wolf packs were involved in confirmed livestock depredations. In response, 85 wolves were lethally removed within the 3 state area. No wolves were translocated in 2004. As new packs form between the original core recovery/release areas, the 3 populations increasingly resemble and function as a single, large population (Figure 1). Numerous research projects are underway, examining wolf population dynamics, predator-prey interactions and livestock depredation.