Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for



Date of this Version

March 2003


This cooperative annual report presents information on the status, distribution and management of the recovering Rocky Mountain wolf population from January 1, 2003 through December 31, 2003. It is also available at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/annualreports.htm.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nez Perce Tribe, National Park Service, and USDA Wildlife Services. 2004. Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2003 Annual Report. T. Meier, ed. USFWS, Ecological Services, 100 N Park, Suite 320, Helena MT. 65 pp.


Wolves (Canis lupus) in the Northern Rocky Mountain states (Idaho, Montana and Wyoming) continue to increase in distribution and numbers (Figures 1, 5). Estimates of wolf numbers at the end of 2003 were 368 wolves in the Central Idaho Recovery Area, 301 in the Greater Yellowstone Recovery Area, and 92 in the Northwest Montana Recovery Area for a total of 761 (Figure 1, Table 4a). By state boundaries, there were an estimated 345 wolves in the state of Idaho, 234 in Wyoming and 182 in Montana (Table 4b). Of approximately 94 groups of two or more wolves, 51 met the definition of “breeding pair,” an adult male and female raising two or more pups until December 31. This made 2003 the fourth year in which 30 or more breeding pairs were documented within the three-state area. Recovery criteria have been met for removing Northern Rockies wolves from the Endangered Species List (Table 4a). In Fall 2003, Montana finished its state wolf management plan and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) sent the completed state wolf management plans of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming out for independent scientific peer review. The process to determine whether USFWS can proceed with a delisting proposal in 2004 is ongoing.

Wolves in the area subsist mainly on elk (Cervus elaphus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), moose (Alces alces), and bison (Bison bison). Livestock depredations in 2003 included 64 cattle (Bos taurus), 211 sheep (Ovis aries), six dogs (Canis familiaris) and ten goats (Capra hircus) confirmed lost to wolves (Table 5a, 5b). Approximately 31 of 94 known wolf packs were involved in livestock depredations. In response, 59 wolves were killed within the 3-state area. No wolves were translocated in 2003. As new packs are formed between the original core recovery/release areas, the three 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.