319 wolves in Wyoming, but as in ’08 only six breeding pairs in Yellowstone Park-
I think it’s clear that Wyoming’s anti-wolf legislature had hoped that the requirement of ten breeding wolf pairs in the state could be met by Yellowstone Park alone, but yesterday’s USFWS release of the 2009 wolf figures for the state show that to be a pipe dream.
The official estimate is 319 wolves in the state, including just 96 in Yellowstone. Several years ago there were over 170 wolves in Yellowstone. As the Yellowstone population has been shrinking the Wyoming wolf population outside the Park is growing. There are now 223 wolves outside the Park with 21 breeding pairs.
If we look at wolf packs (groups of wolves + groups of wolves with a breeding pair) there were 30 packs outside Yellowstone and 14 inside the Park. The average Wyoming pack size is about 7 wolves. The Park size is also about 7 wolves.
At the end of 2008 there were 178 wolves outside Yellowstone in Wyoming and 124 wolves inside Yellowstone for a total of 302. As in 2009, in 2008 there were only 6 breeding pairs in Yellowstone.
Because of the much greater observational accuracy of packs inside Yellowstone Park, I would judge the number of official breeding pairs there (six) to be more accurate than those outside the Park (officially 21).
If you look at the Wyoming wolf pack map, you will see that the NW corner of the state is pretty well saturated with wolves. Any significant future wolf population growth will depend on reduced mortality in the numerous and usually transient small packs south of Jackson Hole which are continually disrupted by WS livestock control actions.