It's the highest number of gray wolves in Northern Rockies since their reintroduction 20 years ago.
The number of gray wolves continues to increase in area of the Northern Rockies, according to the latest U.S. Fish and Wildlife estimates on Friday.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now estimates there are a minimum of 1,904 of the predators living in the states of Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Gray wolves were first reintroduced into these areas about 20 years ago.
These latest numbers however, are the highest since that original re-introduction. And the number of wolves has increased in spite of federal protections being lifted in 2011 for all those states with the exception of Wyoming. A proposed bill may remove those protections for Wyoming.
States that allow the hunting of wolves saw varied results in the number of animals. Idaho's population actually rose to 786 while Montana saw a drop to 536.
The subject of wolves remains a hot topic in many of these areas. Just two days ago, wildlife officials in Oregon had to put down four wolves that left their pack and made repeated attacks on some livestock. The number of wolves in Oregon and neighboring Washington is currently about 200 animals between the two.
It appears these predators are in the Northern Rockies to stay however. The Associated Press reports wolf numbers are going up as packs spread out into new areas.