The eastern gray wolf (Canis lupis pop.), previously considered a distinct population segment, once occurred throughout most of the region between Georgia and Maine, and between the Atlantic and the Great Plains . Today eastern gray wolves are found only in the Great Lakes states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota . They remain extirpated from the rest of the eastern United States . Gray wolves in the conterminous states are listed as endangered, except in Minnesota where the gray wolf is listed as threatened .
Because wolves were blamed for livestock losses, gray wolves were relentlessly hunted and targeted by predator eradication programs through the early 20th century . Bounty programs initiated in the 19th Century continued through as late as 1965 . As a result of this persecution, the gray wolf was driven to near extinction. The eastern gray wolf population was the only wild population to survive these eradication attempts . In 1974, when the gray wolf became one of the first species listed under the 1973 Endangered Species Act, it was found in the wild only in extreme northeastern Minnesota where a few hundred wolves remained and on Isle Royal, Michigan where there were a small number left . Today, the total Great Lakes population has increased to around 3,880 wolves .
Minnesota: Prior to listing, gray wolf numbers in Minnesota were estimated at between 500 and 1,000 individuals . By 1978, numbers appeared to have increased slightly and the USFWS proposed downlisting the Minnesota gray wolf to “threatened” so that “problem” wolves could be killed . A 1988-89 winter survey produced an estimate of 1,500 to 1,750 wolves and in 1998, surveys estimated that there were over 2,400 individual wolves in Minnesota . Since late winter 2004-05, there have been roughly 3,000 gray wolves (485 packs) in Minnesota . In addition, over the last three decades, wolves have increased their range in the north-central and central parts of Minnesota .
Wisconsin: From 1960 to 1975 there were no breeding wolves in Wisconsin . As populations in Minnesota expanded after listing however, wolves apparently dispersed into the state. In 1980, 25 wolves inhabited Wisconsin; by 1995 the number had increased to 83 wolves comprising 18 packs, and by 2004 there were 373 wolves comprising 109 packs . As of early 2005, there were about 425 gray wolves in Wisconsin , and now there are about 700.
Michigan: In 1995, 80 wolves were counted in Michigan, up from a small number of individuals found on Isle Royale and none on the mainland at the time of listing . By 2000, this number had increased to 216 , and as of late winter 2004-05, there were roughly 435 gray wolves in the state: 405 (87 packs) on the Upper Peninsula and 30 (3 packs) on the Isle Royale . Now there are approximately 700 wolves in the state.
 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2005. Oregon District Court Rules Against Gray Wolf Reclassification. Website <http://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/esa-status/or-court-rule.htm> accessed 3/2006.
 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2004. Gray Wolf (Canis lupis) Biologue, updated May, 2004. Available at <http://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/biology/biologue.htm>.
 International Wolf Center. 2005. Gray Wolf Population Trends in the Contiguous United States. Updated September, 2005. (www.wolf.org)
 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2004. Gray Wolf Recovery in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Available at <http://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/recovery/r3wolfct.htm>.
 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1978. Reclassification of the Gray Wolf in the United States and Mexico, with Determination of Critical Habitat in Michigan and Minnesota. Federal Register (43:9607-9615).
 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2005. Questions and Answers about gray wolf recovery in North America. Website <http://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/recovery/namerica.htm> accessed 3/2006.