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Wolf Counts and Management Costs

Largely extirpated in the 1930s, wolves were reintroduced into the Rocky Mountain Region of the United States in 1995. The recovery plan required approximately 300 wolves, as defined by at least 10 breeding pairs in three distinct regions. Today there are more than 1500 wolves in the combined regions and more than 20 breeding pairs in each region. Yet debate continues over the removal of the gray wolf from endangered species status.

Even though wolf numbers exceed recovered status according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, many groups continue to oppose their delisting. The debate, fought in both the courts and Congress, has cost individuals and taxpayers millions of dollars (see chart above).

According to the Fish and Wildlife Service [PDF], “Delisting the [Northern Rocky Mountain] wolf population would allow implementation of a more efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective wildlife conservation model, but has been difficult to achieve.” In the meantime, the costs of wolf management increases with their population.

Originally posted at Environmental Trends.