Wolf Management

An aerial view of wolf pups sitting on a boulder
Wolves do not recognize political boundaries and often move between different jurisdictions--state, tribal, and federal. Here, the 8-Mile Pack wolf pups sit on a boulder in 2013.

NPS / Daniel Stahler


Wolves are managed by the appropriate state, tribal, or federal agencies. Management authority depends on current status and location of subpopulations. Within Yellowstone National Park, no hunting of wolves is allowed. Outside the park, regulated hunting is allowed in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming and managed by those states. Because wolves do not recognize political boundaries and often move between different jurisdictions, some wolves that live within the park for most of the year, but at times move outside the park, are taken in the hunts. (Read more about Yellowstone's Wolf Program in the Yellowstone Wolf Project Annual Reports)


Update from 2014

Excerpted from the Yellowstone Wolf Project Annual Report 2014 (5.5 MB pdf)

There were at least 104 wolves in 11 packs, including nine breeding pairs, living primarily in Yellowstone National Park during December 2014. From 2009 to 2014, wolf numbers have fluctuated between 83 and 104 wolves, and 6 to 9 breeding pairs. Pack size in 2014 averaged 9 wolves (range = 2 to 14). Forty pups survived to year-end, including 17 in northern Yellowstone and 23 in the interior of the park. An average of 4.4 pups per pack (82%) survived in the nine packs that had pups. For the first time, the size of a wolf pack was estimated via genetic sampling methodology, using scat samples from a den site.

Wolf-Prey Relationships

Wolf predation was monitored for one month in early winter (mid-November to mid-December), one month in late winter (March), and two months in spring (May and June). Project staff detected 227 kills that were definitely, probably, or possibly made by wolves during 2014, including 148 elk (65%), 20 bison (9%), 13 mule deer (5%), 10 deer of unknown species (4%, probably mule deer), five coyotes (2%), three moose (1%), three wolves (1%), one badger (<1%), one beaver (<1%), one bighorn sheep (<1%), one goose (<1%), one raven (<1%), one pronghorn (<1%), and 19 unidentified animals (8%). The composition of elk kills was 30% calves, 2% yearlings, 33% adult females (cows), 22% adult males (bulls), 10% adults of unknown sex, and 3% of unknown sex and age. Wolves still preferred elk, but predation on bison and mule deer appear to be increasing.

Wolf Management Wolf management activities included den site closures and several hazing events. Staff continued to manage wolf viewing areas in Slough Creek, Lamar Valley, Hayden Valley, and other areas where wolves were frequently observed. There were seven instances when behavior of wolves was considered habituated or they closely approached humans. These seven instances involved four different wolves: two of known sex and age (one adult male and one adult female) and two others of unknown sex, but probably adults. Hazing occurred five times, with four instances directed at one wolf –a lone adult (3-year-old), female #889. The other hazing event was directed at an unknown gray adult. Hazing included yelling, clapping hands, honking the horn, paint balls, bean bags, and cracker shells. Hazing at the unknown gray adult was considered successful. Four attempts at hazing wolf #899 were unsuccessful. She was eventually shot outside the park near a human residence by a licensed hunter. A necropsy revealed a wound that likely occurred a year earlier during the previous wolf hunting season and could have led to her habituated behavior. Locations of the habituated wolves were Blacktail Deer Plateau, Little America, and Lamar Valley.

In September 2014, wolves were relisted in Wyoming due to on-going litigation and resulted in no wolf hunt in Wyoming. Idaho and Montana conducted wolf hunts and at least two wolves (both radio-collared), and possibly three others that primarily used Yellowstone National Park, were legally harvested during these hunts (because these wolves were possibly harvested they are not included in the 'Mortalities' section). Harvested wolves were from three different packs: Cougar Creek (two wolves), Prospect Peak (one wolf), Junction Butte (one wolf), plus one lone wolf.


More Information

Last updated: June 13, 2017

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