Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) recolonization failure: A Minnesota case study

L. David Mech, Forest Isbell, Jim Krueger, John Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


During the past few decades, Gray Wolves (Canis lupus) have recolonized many areas in the United States and Europe. In many other cases, however, although dispersing wolves reached areas with adequate prey, a population failed to recolonize. Herein, we provide a case study detailing how a wolf pack attempted for three years to recolonize an area 55 km from a long-established population and within 25 km of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, but failed. The pack produced three litters of pups and at one time included 11–19 members, but it preyed on livestock and dogs and, consequently, was lethally removed. The history of this pack’s attempt to recolonize an area long devoid of wolves exemplifies the issues that have prevented earlier recolonizations in non-wild lands in Minnesota and elsewhere and that promise to do so well into the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-65
Number of pages6
JournalCanadian Field-Naturalist
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this project was provided by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-ECitizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, and the United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services. We thank Larry Hogie for cooperating with the study, S.B. Barber-Meyer of the USGS for use of unpublished data, and Quinn Harrison, University of Minnesota, for critiquing an earlier draft and offering helpful suggestions for improving it.


  • Canis lupus
  • Depredation
  • Distribution
  • Gray Wolf
  • Livestock
  • Recolonization

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