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Minnesota at a glance

Minnesota wolf

Gray wolves once existed throughout Minnesota; however, extirpation (elimination) began shortly after European settlers arrived. Wolves were killed in Minnesota mostly by poisoning. A state-directed wolf control program persisted until gray wolves were added to the endangered species list in 1974. At that time, the wolf population numbered approximately 750 animals. Minnesota is the only state in the contiguous United States that has always held a viable gray wolf population.

Main prey for wolves there are deer, moose and beaver. Wolves occupy approximately 40 percent of the map shown, with most wolves occupying the northeastern portion of the state. Range lines are not depicted. According to federal recovery criteria, wolves in Minnesota have been biologically recovered for over a decade. They were delisted from the endangered species list in January 2012 but were re-listed on December 19, 2014.  They are currently listed as “Threatened” in Minnesota.

Species Information

Map courtesy of MN DNR

Species 1
Common Name: gray wolf
Latin Name: Canis lupus

Potential species designation under debate by the scientific community
Common Name: eastern wolf, timber wolf
Latin Name: Canis lycaon
Location: C. lupus and the potential C. lycaon are indistinguishable from each other physically, behaviorally and ecologically. The only way to tell the difference between them is a genetic test and comparison. Both inhabit the northern third of Minnesota.

Current Wolf Population, Trend, Status
Number of wolves: 2,211 (2013 Report)
Population trend: Stable
Legal status: Wolves in Minnesota are classified as threatened and are federally protected.  On 12/19/ 2014, a judge ordered wolves protected again in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan under the Endangered Species Act.  No one may kill a wolf except in defense of human life. In Minnesota, farmers can contact federal agents for wolf control.

Human Relationships

Attitudes and Issues

Map courtesy of the USFWS


Recovery and Management
Information related to legal status, hunting and trapping regulations and management plans and practices in Minnesota.





Prey and Predation Image

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