Under the plan, Minnesota’s wolf population increased, and some wolves from that population, as well as others from southern Canada, dispersed into northern Michigan and Wisconsin, each of which had populations of approximately 100 wolves in 1998. Also, 31 wolves from Canada were introduced into Yellowstone National Park in 1995, and that population grew to over 100.
By the end of 1998, it seemed fairly certain that the criteria for removing the wolf from the Endangered Species list would soon be met. In 1992, when the results of the recovery plan were still uncertain, the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to investigate the possibility of reintroducing wolves to northern Maine and the Adirondack Park. A survey of New York State residents in 1996 funded by Defenders of Wildlife found that 76% of people living in the park supported reintroduction.
However, many residents and organizations within the park vigorously opposed reintroduction and questioned the validity of the survey. Concerns focused primarily on the potential dangers to people, live-stock, and pets and the possible impact on the deer population. In response to the public outcry, Defenders of Wildlife established a citizens’ advisory committee that initiated two studies by outside experts, one on the social and economic aspects of reintroduction and another on whether there were sufficient prey and suitable habitat for wolves.