Reintroduction of Wolves (Canis lupus) in Idaho
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2013

Mark L. Drew1, DVM, DACZM; Jon Rachael2, MS

1Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Wildlife Health Laboratory, Caldwell, ID, USA; 2Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Wildlife Bureau, Boise, ID, USA


Wolves, Canis lupus, were extirpated from Idaho by 1930 and were listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1976. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) established 3 recovery areas for wolves - northwestern Montana, central Idaho, and the greater Yellowstone area. Efforts to document wolves in central Idaho found no evidence of a viable population by 2002. A Record of Decision was issued on the Final Environmental Impact Statement November 1994 with reintroduced wolves defined as a nonessential experimental population (ESA Section 10j). The goal for delisting wolves was greater than 10 breeding pairs and at least 150 wolves in each of the 3 recovery areas for 3 successive years. Wolves were captured in Alberta, and 15 wolves were released in Idaho in January 1995. In 1996, 20 additional wolves captured in British Columbia were released in the same area. During spring1996, 3 wolf packs produced pups. By 2000, Idaho met the delisting criteria and the population continued to grow with over 850 wolves by 2008 when wolves were initially delisted in Idaho and Montana. Numerous legal challenges occurred throughout the process and wolves were subsequently relisted and delisted multiple times between 2008 and 2011. Despite controversy and court challenges, successful reintroduction resulted in a robust population of wolves in Idaho. Following delisting, hunting and trapping seasons have been established and wolves are being managed as a big game species.


Speaker Information
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Mark L. Drew, DVM, DACZM
Wildlife Health Laboratory
Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Caldwell, ID, USA

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