Gray wolves are thriving in our state, but it's both good and bad news.
As the wolf population thrives and grows in our state, DNR Secretary Matt Frank says there needs to be a balance in controlling that population. "If that population continues to grow at some point it does present other concerns and we need to be responsible about how we manage that. So it is a fine balance and it's something we're committed to."
The DNR last week updated the Natural Resources Board on their long-term wolf management plan, with the state's gray wolf population estimated at between 626 and 662 animals – up from just 25 wolves in 1979.
Frank says the population growth of the endangered species is indicative of the state's wilderness areas, but he realizes that farmers aren't happy with wolves killing their livestock and family dogs.
"This really is an incredible success story in that at one point wolves were endangered, the population was quite low, it was not clear that the population would survive."
Frank says the DNR's wolf-management plan, due next year, includes reviewing population goals for the animal, controlling wolves that prey on livestock, and the potential for a public harvest – among other things.
US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently reinstated a decision by the U-S Fish-and-Wildlife Service to remove gray wolves from the federal endangered species list, after having been on and off again several times.