Wyoming’s gray wolf population continues to meet all management goals, according to the 2022 Wyoming Gray Wolf Monitoring and Management annual report by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and partnering agencies.
The newly-published document details gray wolf populations and conflict trends that indicate stable and predictable management of the species. Wyoming is maintaining wolf numbers at healthy levels, and 2022 marked the 21st consecutive year wolf numbers in Wyoming have exceeded the criteria outlined for recovery of the species.
“Wyoming has a proven track record of successfully managing our gray wolf population, and we will continue that approach into the future,” Game and Fish Director Brian Nesvik said.
Established population objectives for wolves are outlined in the Wyoming Gray Wolf Management Plan.
“The Wolf Management Plan has promoted a recovered, stable and appropriate population objective for Wyoming’s wolves,” said Dan Thompson, Game and Fish large carnivore section supervisor. “This management approach has yielded reduced conflicts with livestock and alleviated potential impacts of wolf predation on big game herds. Our approach in Wyoming has promoted public tolerance and coexistence with wolves and humans across the landscape.”
As of Dec. 31, 2022, at least 163 wolves and 12 breeding pairs reside within the wolf trophy game management area (WTGMA), where Game and Fish focuses management. The wolf population for Yellowstone National Park and Wind River Reservation is at least 108 wolves and 18 breeding pairs, respectively. An additional 49 wolves were documented in the seasonal WTGMA and predatory animal areas outside Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Reservation, bringing the total minimum population in Wyoming to at least 338 wolves.
“Game and Fish continues robust wolf monitoring efforts using radio collars to ensure rigorous data collection used for evaluating wolf population status and for proposing appropriate wolf management actions,” said Ken Mills, Game and Fish lead wolf biologist.
Reaching a steady wolf population is partially attributed to hunting in the northwest corner of the state. Wolf hunting seasons within the WTGMA requires hunters to have a license and adhere to set mortality limits and other regulations.
“Wyoming’s wolf hunting strategy has been an effective wolf management tool, which has allowed the Department to meet the objectives outlined in the wolf management plan,” Mills said.
Wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains — which includes Wyoming — are currently subject to an ongoing status review implemented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in response to multiple petitions filed requesting wolves to be relisted under the Endangered Species Act. The 2022 annual wolf report will be instrumental in the USFWS’s review of wolf management programs and population status for each state in the northern Rockies, which is expected to be concluded by February 2024.