Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Idaho
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Ausband, D.E., and L.D. Mech. 2023. The challenges of success: Future wolf conservation and management in the United States. BioScience. 73: 587-591.


Gray wolf (Canis lupus) recovery and conservation has been an unprecedented success over the last 30 years in the United States (U.S.). Unprecedented success yields unprecedented challenges, however. As populations expand, wolves will colonize more human-dominated landscapes and face numerous challenges such as fragmented habitats, barriers to dispersal, and increased encounters with humans, pets, and livestock. In such areas, conflicts between humans and wolves will increase. We summarize several major scientific and social challenges that wolf conservation, recovery, and management will face in the coming years. Additionally, we suggest actions to help address each challenge. Future wolf conservation in the U.S. will be affected by the ability of managers to 1) predict colonization and dispersal dynamics, 2) reduce hybridization and disease transmission, 3) mitigate and deter wolf-livestock conflicts, 4) harvest wolves sustainably while satisfying diverse stakeholders, 5) ensure that urbanization or disinterest in nature do not reduce tolerance for wolves, and 6) engage diverse stakeholders in wolf conservation to avoid management by ballot initiative or legislative and judicial decrees.