Date of this Version
In 1975, the gray wolf (Canis lupus) population in Minnesota was protected by the federal Endangered Species Act (USA). At that time, there were 500-750 wolves. By 2004, the population had grown to an estimated 3,020 wolves. Over time, conflicts between wolves and livestock increased. Wolf depredation control programs have been conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1975-1986) and by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program (1986 to present). In 1978, Minnesota’s wolves were reclassified from endangered to threatened which allowed authorized federal agents to lethally remove wolves that had depredated on livestock or pets. A State funded wolf compensation program was also established in 1978. Wildlife Services’ wolf damage management approach utilizes both nonlethal and lethal methods of control. Currently, wolf depredations are verified at 60-85 farms annually and 125-175 wolves are taken each year. Wolf compensation payments to livestock producers have averaged $67,111 per year during the past five years. Most livestock losses occur during spring and summer. Selective removal of depredating wolves, coupled with improvements in animal husbandry practices, has potential for reducing wolf-livestock conflicts. Minnesota’s wolf population is currently considered to be fully recovered and federal delisting is expected to occur in the near future.