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Year

Event

1630

First bounty - settlers in Mass. Bay Colony passed laws offering cash reward to any resident that killed a wolf. Other colonies followed.

1644-45

Any Mass. Indian could get 3qt. of wine or a bushel of corn for one wolf.

1818

"War of Extermination" in Ohio declared against bear and wolves.

1838

Bounty system started in Michigan.

1843

Bounty system started in early Texas and Colorado.

1849

Bounty system started in Minnesota. First bounty was $3.

1850-80

Era of the "Wolfers" Demand for wolf pelts increased as a result of beaver population decimation. Wolfers preferred poison to traps and killed bison, elk and other animals for bait. It is estimated that 100.000 wolves were killed a year between 1870 and 1877.

1858

Bounty system started in Iowa.

1865

Bounty system started in Wisconsin. First bounty was $5.

1869

Bounty system started in established Colorado.

1872

Yellowstone National Park (YNP) created protecting wildlife from "wanton destruction." Ungulate slaughter for use in predator poisoning continues.

1875

Bounty system started in Wyoming.

1884

Bounty system started in Montana.

1900

At the turn of the century wolves were rare in southern and western Minnesota, southern Wisconsin and Michigan, and all of the eastern U.S.

1905

Elk used as livestock guarding animals for sheep in Arkansas.

1913

Law in Wyoming stipulated penalty of $300 for freeing a wolf from a trap.

1914

The U.S. Government provided poison and personnel in an attempt to rid its U.S. of the remaining wolves.

 

YNP wolf extirpation begins.

1922 - 1935

State trapping system created in Michigan. Bounty stopped during this period but reinstated in 1935.

1930

150 wolves estimated to inhabit Wisconsin.

1940's

Wolves arrived on Isle Royale, Michigan.

1950

It was estimated that only 50 wolves remained in extreme northern Wisconsin.

1950 - 1952

It was estimated there were 450-700 wolves in northern Minnesota and an average of 253 wolves were taken annually under the state's bounty system.

1956

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) ended a wolf control program that included aerial shooting. About 190 wolves had been taken by various methods each year since 1953.

1957

The bounty system ended in Wisconsin and wolves became totally protected under state law.

1958

Formal monitoring program for wolves on Isle Royale began.

1953 - 1959

The number of wolves taken by bounty in Minnesota ranged from 122 to 252 annually (average 189).

1960

Wolves considered extirpated from Wisconsin.

 

Bounty system repealed in Michigan. The number of wolves bountied in the state had been decreasing: 1956 = 30, 1958 = 7, and only 1 in 1959.

1960s

This was considered by many to be the low point for wolf numbers in the lower 48 states. The only remaining wolves were in extreme northeastern Minnesota (350-700) and on Isle Royale (about 20).

1963

There were an estimated 20 wolves on Isle Royale.

1960 - 1965

171-211 wolves had been submitted for bounty each year in Minnesota.

1965

Michigan gave the wolf complete protection under state law.

 

Last bounty ($35) was paid on a wolf in Minnesota.

 

The eastern timber wolf was thought to occur in only 3% of its former range in the US outside of Alaska.

1966 - 1973

Around 200 wolves were harvested annually in Minnesota.

1967

The eastern timber wolf was listed as "endangered' in the contiguous US under a 1966 federal Endangered Species Preservation Act. This act only provided limited protection on federal lands.

1969 - 1974

Minnesota DNR conducted a Directed Predator Control Program and an average of 64 wolves were killed annually for depredating on livestock. The program provided a $50 incentive to designated trappers taking wolves in certain areas.

1970

The Superior National Forest (Minnesota) was closed to the taking of wolves on federal land. Private and state lands, including frozen lake surfaces inside and outside of the forest, were still open to wolf harvest.

 

There were an estimated 750 wolves in Minnesota, no wolves in Wisconsin, possibly scattered individuals in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and 18 wolves on Isle Royale.

1973

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was enacted into law by the US Congress.

1974

Four wolves were captured in Minnesota and released in Michigan's Upper Peninsula by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The reintroduction failed due to human-caused mortality to the wolves.

 

Public harvest of wolves in Minnesota ended.

 

In August the eastern timber wolf became legally protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

1975

The first documented reproducing pack of wolves in Wisconsin since the 1950s prompted the state to list the eastern timber wolf as a state endangered species.

 

A joint team of Federal and State personnel and biologists devise a Wolf Recovery Plan for Minnesota wolves.

 

The USFWS initiated a program to control wolf depredations in Minnesota. The program involved moving wolves from areas where wolves had killed livestock.

1976

The Mexican gray wolf subspecies was listed under the Endangered Species Act.

1978

Minnesota Legislature enacted a state compensation program to pay livestock owners for losses from wolf depredation.

 

The Eastern Timber Wolf Recovery Plan was published. It called for 5 wolf management zones in Minnesota, the reestablishment of wolves elsewhere, a limited public harvest in Minnesota, and reclassification from endangered to threatened in Minnesota.

 

Minnesota wolves were reclassified from endangered to threatened. This change allowed the USFWS to kill wolves in areas where wolves had killed livestock.

1977-80

The last five wild, Mexican wolves thought to be remaining were captured in Mexico and placed in captivity to establish a captive breeding program.

1979

Wisconsin began intensive monitoring of wolves and estimated there were 25 wolves in the state during the winter of 1979-80.

1980

Minnesota DNR prepared a wolf management plan and proposed taking wolf management back from the USFWS. The government turned down the proposal.

 

5 wolf packs were found in Wisconsin. 50 wolves were on Isle Royale, Michigan.

1980s

Canine parvovirus became wide spread in the Lake States region. It is later suspected that parvo caused a drastic decline in the wolf population on Isle Royale and possibly throughout the region.

1982

The Mexican wolf recovery plan is completed with goals to maintain a captive breeding program and re-establish a population of 100 wolves within their historic range.

1983

The USFWS recommended that trappers in Minnesota be allowed to take 50 wolves to supplement the depredation control program and that the control program be handed over to the state.

1984

A court order prohibited the proposed trapper harvest of wolves in Minnesota. The USFWS retained management authority.

1986

Federal wolf depredation activities transferred from the USFWS to the Department of Agriculture, Animal Damage Control (now Wildlife Services).

 

Wisconsin DNR created a Wolf Recovery Team to develop a state wolf recovery plan.

1987

Wisconsin closed coyote hunting during the state's deer gun season in the northern portion of the state to reduce the number of wolves killed mistakenly.

1988

12 Wolves on Isle Royale.

1988 - 1989

Minnesota DNR estimated that there were between 1500 and 1750 wolves in 233 packs in the state and the state's wolf range was estimated at about 25,000 square miles.

1989

Wisconsin Wolf Recovery Plan initiated. A goal of 80 wolves in 10 packs for 3 years was set. Down listing was to occur when this goal was met.

1990

A long range plan by Minnesota DNR called for: maintaining at least 1000 to 1200 wolves through 1992; expanding recreational use and understanding of wolves; and assisting other states in establishing wolf populations.

1991

The first documented observation of wolves reproducing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan since the 1950's. Michigan wolf population estimated at 17.

1985 - 1992

A series of studies suggested that human-caused wolf mortality, as indexed by road density and thus human access, was the primary factor limiting the distribution and abundance of wolves in the Great Lakes region.

1992

The Eastern Timber Wolf Recovery Plan was updated. Minnesota estimated the state wolf population at 1500 -1750 animals; Wisconsin estimated 45; and Michigan estimated 21 with another 12 on Isle Royale.

 

Michigan formed a wolf recovery team and later published a recovery plan.

 

Wisconsin Wolf Advisory Committee was formed to oversee wolf recovery and develop a wolf management plan which included criteria for reclassification.

1994

Wisconsin and Michigan estimated they had 57 wolves each. Their combined estimates of over 100 wolves outside of Minnesota started the 5 year count down to delisting the eastern timber wolf as suggested in the 1992 Recovery Plan.

1995

Wisconsin and Michigan estimated their populations at 83 and 80 respectively. Both states started the 3 year count down towards state reclassification.

1996

The USFWS published their Vertebrate Population Policy which stated that existing populations can no longer be listed, reclassified, or delisted by political (for example state) boundaries.

 

Minnesota estimated there were between 2,000 and 2,200 wolves in the state. Wisconsin estimated their population at 99 wolves and Michigan estimated they had 116 wolves.

 

Wisconsin Wolf Advisory Committee began developing a new wolf management plan.

1996

USFWS releases final environmental impact statement for Mexican gray wolf recovery.

1997

In November, the Minnesota DNR began a repeat of its 1988-89 extensive survey of wolf distribution and abundance in the state. Wisconsin population was 145.

 

Michigan DNR released its wolf recovery and management plan.

 

Michigan DNR estimated that there were 112 wolves in at least 20 packs in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and 24 wolves in 3 packs on Isle Royale.

1997

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt rules in favor of USFWS reintroducing captive-raised Mexican gray wolves in eastern Arizona within the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area; designates released wolves and their offspring as a nonessential population.

1998

Minnesota DNR estimated that there were 2,450 wolves in Minnesota during the winter of 1997-98, and that the wolf range was around 88,325 square kilometers.

 

It was estimated that there were 178 wolves in Wisconsin and 140 in Michigan with an additional 14 on Isle Royale.

 

Minnesota DNR held a series of public information meetings around the state to discuss the future of wolves in the state.

 

US Interior Secretary, Bruce Babbitt, announced intentions to begin plans to remove the wolf from the endangered species list in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

 

DNR organized a 32-member roundtable group composed of people from all sides of the wolf issue. They produced a recommendation for wolf management. These recommendations were used by the Minnesota DNR as they formed their wolf management plan.

 

USFWS releases first captive-reared Mexican wolves into the wild.

 

New Mexico Cattle Growers Association sues USFWS, alleging violations of federal laws in implementing the Mexican wolf reintroduction project.

1999

Wisconsin DNR released its wolf management plan.

 

Wisconsin reclassifies the wolf from a state listed endangered species to a state listed threatened species because the goal of 80 wolves had been maintained since 1995.

 

The Minnesota Legislature failed to pass the roundtable's wolf management plan suggested by the Minnesota DNR.

 

Steven Kellert of Yale University completed a study of public attitudes towards wolves in Minnesota.

 

Wisconsin and Michigan estimate that they have 205 and 174 wolves respectively, with an additional 25 on Isle Royale.

 

Courts rule USFWS complied with laws in New Mexico Cattle Growers Assoc lawsuit; lawsuit dismissed.

2000

Minnesota DNR proposed a modified version of the roundtable's wolf management plan.

 

Minnesota Legislature passes a bill containing an outline for wolf management in Minnesota.

 

A group of environmental and wolf advocate organizations filed a lawsuit claiming the wolf management bill for Minnesota was passed through an illegal method of "log-rolling."

 

Wisconsin and Michigan estimate that they have 266 and 216 wolves respectively, with an additional 29 on Isle Royale.

2001

A Ramsey County judge dismissed the lawsuit that claimed that the Minnesota state wolf management bill was passed through an illegal method of "log-rolling."

 

Minnesota DNR sent its wolf management plan to the USFWS for review.

 

Wisconsin and Michigan estimate that they have 251and 249 wolves respectively, with an additional 19 on Isle Royale.

 

A wolf which was trapped and radio-collared in Michigan in 1999 dispersed to Missouri, where it was mistaken for a coyote and killed.

 

4 wolves confirmed shot in Wisconsin during the deer hunting season.

 

Livestock depredations in Minnesota at a 10 year low.

 

Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota, lifts a ban on snowmobile use of frozen bays within the park. 8 conservation and animal protection groups filed suit in US District Court opposing the decision.

 

USFWS completes three-year review of Mexican wolf recovery project. Scientists recommend program continues with no modifications.

2002

Michigan reclassifies the wolf from state listed endangered species to a state listed threatened species.

 

Wisconsin and Michigan estimate that they have 320 and 280 wolves respectively, with an additional 17 on Isle Royale.

2003

USFWS reclassifies gray wolf populations into three distinct population segments (DPSs): Eastern, Western and Southwestern. The Eastern and Western DPSs are classified as threatened and the Southwestern DPS is classified as endangered on the Endangered Species List.

 

Coalition of Arizona and New Mexico counties files suit alleging USFWS failed to consider impacts of hybridizatin or prepare supplemental environmental impact statement and violated the Freedom of Information Act by withholding documents.

2004

USFWS holds public hearings on the proposal to delist the gray wolf in the Eastern DPS.

 

Estimated wolf populations for MN, WI, MI and Isle Royale are 3020, 400, 360 and 19 respectively.

 

USFWS oversight committee cooperators begin Blue Range Reintroduction Project five-year review; draft reports released to public for review and comment in December.

2005

(January 3) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regulation allows maximum management of gray wolves for the states of Montana and Idaho.

 

(January 31) US district judge rules against the US Dept of Interior and FWS on their plan to remove the wolf from the endangered species list. Federal classification returns to status prior to April 2003.

 

Courts rule in favor of USFWS in lawsuit by Arizona and New Mexico counties; lawsuit dismissed.

 

Adaptive Management Oversight Committee completes Mexican Wolf Blue Range Reintroduction Project five-year review, which includes 37 recommendations for improving management of the wolf reintroduction project; many would require changes to 1997 rule.

 

(December) Department of the Interior declines to appeal the Oregon and Vermont rulings.

2006

(January 5) Memorandum of Agreement between Idaho and the U.S. Department of Interior signed by Gov. Dirk Kempthorne and transferring authority for day-to-day wolf management to the state as agent for the Fish and Wildlife Service under the revised 10(j) rule.

 

(March) USFWS proposes to delist the gray wolf population of the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (WGL DPS).

2007

Gray wolves in the WGL DPS are delisted February 8.

 

The final decision to delist the WGL DPS becomes effective March 12.

 

(June) The USFWS's post-delisting five-year monitoring plan for the WGL DPS available for review and comment.

2008

(February 21) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service filed the rule that would remove gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains from the federal endangered species list.

 

(March 28) Delisting rule becomes final and Idaho, Wyoming and Montana assume full responsibility for wolves under state management. Fish and Wildlife would continue to monitor wolf recovery for five years.

 

(April 28) 12 conservation and animal rights groups file a lawsuit in federal court challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to remove the gray wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountains from the endangered species list, and request a preliminary injunction staying the delisting until the lawsuit is settled.

 

(May 22) Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopts proposed wolf hunting seasons and rules for fall 2008.

 

(July 18) Federal district judge issues a preliminary injunction that returns wolves in Idaho to endangered species protection and puts hunting seasons on hold.

 

(September 17) The federal government withdraws the final rule that delisted wolves in the Northern Rockies Distinct Population Segment earlier this year.

 

(September 29) Federal district judge vacates final rule to delist the gray wolf in the Great Lakes Area.

 

 

 

 

 

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Updated

October 21, 2008

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