BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Aggressive gray wolf hunting and trapping took a toll in much of the Northern Rockies last year as the predator's population saw its most significant decline since being reintroduced to the region.
Yet state and federal wildlife officials said Friday that the population remains healthy overall. It's even expanding in some areas as wolves disperse into parts of Washington and Oregon.
Biologists tallied a minimum of 1,674 wolves across the region at the end of 2012, a 7 percent decline from 2011.
Wyoming's wolf population was down 16 percent, Montana's dropped 4 percent and Idaho's 11 percent.
That was partially offset by gains Washington and Oregon. Eastern portions of those states now have at least 89 wolves.
The government's original recovery goal was at least 300 wolves in the region.