Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for



Date of this Version

August 1987


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1987. Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Denver, Colorado. 119pp.


As enacted by Congress, the purposes of the Endangered Species Act are to provide a program for the conservation of such endangered and threatened species as well as a means whereby the ecosystems upon which such species depend may be conserved. The Act also mandates that the Secretary of the Interior shall develop and implement plans for the conservation and survival of endangered and threatened species. It is further declared to be the policy of Congress that all Federal departments and agencies shall seek to conserve endangered and threatened species and shall utilize their authorities in furtherance of the purposes of the Act.

The Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Plan outlines steps for recovery of gray wolf (Canis lupus) populations in portions of their former range in the Northern Rocky Mountains of the United States. Historical evidence documents the presence of gray wolves throughout the Northern Rocky Mountains of the contiguous United States. This subspecies (Canis lupus irremotus) was a predator on native ungulates under pristine conditions and later , as European Americans spread westward, on domestic livestock. Substantial declines in wolf numbers resulted from control efforts to reduce livestock and big game depredations. Currently, no viable populations of wolves occur in the Rocky Mountains south of Canada, however, at least one pack and several individual animals are known to be present.

This plan emphasizes gray wolf recovery through natural processes (dispersal southward from western Canada) where possible. Where this is not possible because of distance from "seed" populations, translocation is the only known way to establish a population. Either philosophy necessitates conservation of suitable habitat in appropriate recovery areas. Establishing and maintaining wolf populations in three separate areas is believed necessary for recovery at this time. The probability of recovery through natural recruitment is high in northwestern Montana, moderate in Idaho, and remote in Yellowstone National Park. Characteristically, the recovery areas that have been identified are large and remote, where the potential for conflict situations would generally be limited to their periphery. However, resolution of such conflicts is requisite to successful natural reestablishment and thus is an essential element for recovery.