Department Of Interior

DOI News Header
Office of the Secretary
For Immediate Release: March 3, 2004
Hugh Vickery (202) 501-4633
Interior Proposes Broader Gray Wolf
Management Authority for Idaho, Montana

Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton today announced a proposal to give Idaho and Montana more authority to manage wolf populations in their states, consistent with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act.

"Wolf populations now far exceed their recovery goals under the Act in the northern Rocky Mountains, and Idaho and Montana have both crafted responsible wolf management plans for their states," Norton said. "Although we are unable at this time to continue with the process to delist the wolf population in the region because we do not have approved plans for all three states, we believe that it is appropriate for us to pursue as much local management for this recovered wolf population as we can."

The Service has been working with Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming as they develop the state management plans that are required under the Act before a species can be delisted.
The proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognizes that both Montana and Idaho have developed wolf management plans that have been approved by the Service. Under the proposal, landowners would be able to take additional steps to protect their livestock and pets from attacks by problem wolves, and the state would be able to issue permits to allow landowners to control wolves that consistently pose a threat to domestic animals.

The population of wolves in the Northern Rockies now stands at 761, compared to the 406 predicted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when wolves were reintroduced in 1995.
"Under the leadership of Governors Dirk Kempthorne and Judy Martz and their legislatures, Idaho and Montana have developed an appropriate balance in their wolf management plans between the necessary protections required for the wolf and the management tools critical to protect children, property, pets and livestock," Norton said.

Since 1995, wolves have taken 278 cattle, 792 sheep, 62 dogs, and 20 other animals in the three states.

Under the proposal, Idaho and Montana could take wolves determined to be causing unacceptable impacts to elk and deer populations. In addition, the states could petition the Service to take over the lead role in managing and conserving wolves within their states.
The proposed changes would only have effect in the experimental population areas established in Montana and Idaho when wolves were reintroduced. It would have no effect in Wyoming because that state does not have an approved wolf management plan. The proposal also would not apply to wolf populations in the Great Lakes region or in the southwestern United States. The Service will continue to work with Wyoming on its state management plan.

The proposal would not allow public hunting of wolves, which is prohibited under the Endangered Species Act for threatened and endangered species.

Among other things, the proposed regulations would provide that:

  • Wolves attacking livestock, livestock herding and guarding animals and pets on private land could be taken without a permit if they are attacking or about to attack such animals. A permit would be required for such take on public lands.

  • Wolves determined to be causing unacceptable impacts to wildlife populations, such as herds of deer and elk, could also be taken. This could be allowed when such populations are not meeting state management goals and are unlikely to rebound because of excessive predation by wolves.

The proposed regulations will be published in the near future in the Federal Register. The public will have an opportunity to comment on them for 60 days following publication.
Comments should be directed to the following address: USFWS, Western Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, 100 North Park, Number 320, Helena, MT 59601 or



Selected News Releases