Although Wyoming Game and Fish says that the state has a healthy population of wolves, some groups believe the numbers are still far below where they should be.
Spokesman for the Game and Fish, Eric Keszler says that the minimum number of wolves needed to maintain a healthy population is 150, and the minimum number of breeding pairs is 15. At the end of December, there were about 21 breeding pairs in Wyoming.
Erik Molvar of the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance disagrees with Keszler’s assessment. His organization is among those suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to allow Wyoming to manage the wolves. Molvar says that 50 breeding pairs is the minimum number to have a healthy wolf population in the state. He says if it’s less than that wolves will begin to show genetic defects.
“You start getting inbreeding depression,” Molvar says, “which leads to lower survival of the offspring, lower levels of fertility, higher levels of birth defects, all the problems that are genetically related.”
The Biodiversity Alliance’s court case against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is still pending.