U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Gray Wolf Recovery in , , and

Historically, intensive eradication efforts and declining numbers of prey (bison, , and white-tailed deer in the south; , deer, caribou, and beaver in the north) caused the wolf declines in the western . Bounties paid for dead wolves began during the 1800s. By 1838, wolves were eliminated from the southern portion of Michigan, by the early 1900s they were eliminated from southern Minnesota and Wisconsin, and by 1960, wolves were also gone

from northern Wisconsin and . Michigan (except ), and from most of Minnesota.

Wisconsin protected the wolf in Corel Corp 1957, after the species extirpated. Michigan followed suit in 1965, giving the gray wolf their primary prey, white-tailed Resources (DNR) estimated their endangered species protection. At deer, were doing well. Deer herds wolf population at about 1,000 to that time only a few lone wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and 1,200. Then, in the research- remained in the Upper , Michigan increased through the ers documented areas that wolves and an isolated population existed 1980s and early because of had recently colonized, suggesting on Isle Royale. mild winters and timber harvests that wolf numbers and range were that created prime habitat. increasing. A DNR survey In Minnesota, a bounty on all conducted during the 1988-1989 predators, including wolves, Recovery criteria established in the winter estimated 1,500 to 1,750 continued until 1965. Between 1965 Recovery Plan include the assured wolves. Subsequent surveys and 1974, Minnesota had an open survival of the gray wolf population conducted every five years season on wolves and a Directed in Minnesota and a population of 100 documented that the wolf population Predator Control Program. During or more wolves in Wisconsin/ grew in size and range until 1998. this time, about 250 wolves were Michigan for a minimum of five The most recent survey, conducted taken each year and the wolf consecutive years. The Recovery during the winter of 2007 to 2008, population was estimated at 350 to Plan identified 1,250 to 1,400 as a estimated the state’s wolf population 700 animals. The state’s control population goal for Minnesota. The at about 2,921 animals. Due to program and open season continued state’s wolf population has been at uncertainty inherent in this type of until May 1974 when the gray wolf or above that level since the late survey, DNR concluded that there gained protection under the 1970s. The Wisconsin/Michigan wolf had been no significant change in Endangered Species Act (ESA). population has been above 100 since or abundance the winter of 1993-1994, achieving between 1998 and 2008. Wolf Recovery the latter numerical goal in the Perhaps the most important factors Recovery Plan. The wolf’s range expansion into leading to wolf recovery in the north central and central Minnesota Midwest were ESA prohibitions With this consistent expansion in was due to protection from that made killing and harming numbers and range, the robust gray unregulated killing afforded by the wolves illegal and the ESA wolf population in the western ESA, high deer numbers, and requirement that a Recovery Plan is recovered. dispersal of individuals from be prepared. The Recovery Plan existing packs. Telemetry studies focused time, money, and energy on Minnesota documented wolves dispersing from priority conservation actions. During the mid- to late 1970s, the the major wolf range in northeastern Wolves also rebounded because Minnesota Department of Natural Minnesota to recolonize new areas as well as wolves dispersing from particularly on pup survival, is not Michigan DNR trackers estimate the few packs in north central well known. that there were at least 687 wolves Minnesota that had survived the in 2010. “bounty era.” Wisconsin DNR monitors wolf movements in the Wisconsin- Michigan completed a Wolf Today, wolves live in areas with Minnesota border area, as well as Recovery and Management Plan in higher road and human densities the wolf range expansion southward December 1997, which was revised than previously believed suitable for into the central portion of the state. in 2008. The Michigan plan wolf survival. Although these two recommends managing for a factors still limit suitability for wolf The Wisconsin DNR developed a minimum of 200 wolves on the packs, wolves continue to disperse state wolf management plan that Upper Peninsula. The DNR’s goal is to areas in west-central and east- was approved in of 1999. to ensure the wolf population central Minnesota (just north of That plan sets a management goal of remains viable and above a level that /St. Paul), and North 350 wolves (outside of Indian would require either federal or and . Reservations). This goal was state reclassification as a threatened exceeded and in 2004 Wisconsin or endangered species. In May of 2000 the Minnesota changed the wolf’s status from passed a bill that set up “threatened” to “protected wild Wolves have been residing on Isle a framework for wolf management. animal.” In 2006 the Wisconsin Royale, Michigan, in , Using that guidance, the Minnesota management plan was updated and since the winter of 1948-49. Their DNR, in consultation with the approved by the Natural Resources population has moved up and down Minnesota Department of Board. The wolf management goal with that of moose, their prime Agriculture, completed the remains 350 wolves outside of prey. Disease is also believed to be Minnesota Wolf Management Plan reservations. an important factor in population in early 2001. It delineates two wolf fluctuations. Following a peak of 50 management zones and provides Michigan wolves in 1979, the population different levels of protection in the As wolves began getting a foothold plummeted to the low teens in the two zones. The Plan also in Wisconsin during the late 1970s, late 1980s and early 1990s, and as of establishes a minimum state biologists documented increasing 2010, numbered 16 wolves. Due to population goal of 1,600 wolves and numbers of single wolves in the their isolation, these wolves do not defers any action on allowing a Upper Peninsula of Michigan. contribute to federal wolf recovery general public taking of wolves for Finally, in the late 1980s they goals. five years following federal documented a pair of wolves delisting. traveling together in the central Upper Peninsula. This pair had Wisconsin pups in the of 1991. During Minnesota Wolf Population From 1960 to 1975 there were no the following summer, Wisconsin 1973 500 to 1,000 breeding wolves in Wisconsin. But and Michigan DNR biologists put a 1979 1,235 after the wolf was listed as federally radiocollar on one of the wolves in 1989 1,500 to 1,750 endangered, wolves began returning, the only known pack in Michigan. apparently dispersing from By the end of 1992, Michigan 1998 2,450 Minnesota. The Wisconsin DNR biologists verified at least 20 wolves 2004 3,020 started monitoring wolves in 1979 in the Upper Peninsula. Since then, 2008 2,921 by radio-collaring and tracking except for 1996, numbers have wolves, surveying for winter steadily increased. tracks, and conducting summer Wisconsin Wolf Population howling surveys. The 1996-97 late-winter count found 1973 0 wolf numbers at 112, down from 116 1980 25 When monitoring began, 25 wolves documented during the previous 1995 83 were documented in the state. late-winter count. That decline During the mid-1980s wolf numbers appears to have been due to two 2000 248 reached a low of 15, probably due to consecutive harsh winters and a 2005 467 an epidemic of canine parvovirus. high incidence of mange. In some 2010 782 Wild wolves seemed to develop some areas of the Upper Peninsula, deer degree of natural resistance and numbers were reduced by 80 wolf numbers increased after 1985. percent due to record snowfalls and Michigan Wolf Population Population estimates between 1985 low temperatures during the previ- 1973 0 and 2010 increased from 83 to 782 ous winter. This provided more 1980 0 wolves. prey for wolves during that winter 1995 80 but was followed by another severe Parvovirus seems to be declining, winter with unusually deep snow 2000 216 but is still present in Wisconsin when wolf deaths were high because 2005 434 wolves. Lyme disease and mange of fewer deer for prey. Since then, 2010 687 are also present but their impact, wolf numbers have increased and December 2011