Grey wolves are currently listed as a State Threatened Species and classifed as Federally Endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the entire Sate of Illinois. In addition, they are classified as Federally Endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service south of Interstate 80. Gray wolves were extirpated from Illinois before 1860. The IDNR is unaware of any self-sustaining populations or packs residing in Illinois, but they have documented that wolves are moving through and/or temporarily residing in the state.
To date, there have been eleven confirmed gray wolves in Illinois since 2000. Genetic information available from some of the wolves indicates that they came from the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment-most likely from Wisconsin.
•A female wolf was killed by a vehicle in Grundy County in February 2015
•A female wolf was killed by a vehicle in La Salle County in December 2013.
•A female wolf that had been radio-collared in Wisconsin was tracked into Stephenson County in December 2012. The radio-signal was not detected the following week. In March 2013, the wolf was found dead near Apple Canyon Lake in Jo Daviess County.
•A female wolf was trapped and released in Whiteside County in December 2012.
•A male wolf and a female wolf were killed in Jo Daviess County in 2011 about 4 miles apart. •A male wolf was killed by a coyote hunter in Kane County in 2009.
•A male wolf was killed by a coyote hunter in Jo Daviess County in 2008.
•A male wolf was killed by a vehicle immediately north of Chain O’Lakes State Park in Lake County in 2005. •A male wolf was shot in Pike County in 2005.
•A male wolf was shot during a coyote hunt in Marshall County in 2002.
Six of the eleven wolves were young males. Young wolves (3 years old or less) leave their native packs and may travel long distances to either try to establish a pack of their own or to join another pack. This is typical wolf behavior. It is likely that a small number of other wolves have passed through Illinois over the last decade on their way to surrounding states. Photos and/or tracks of these animals may exist, but without genetic information it is impossible to confirm whether these animals were truly wild (i.e., from Wisconsin) or perhaps wolf-dog hybrids kept as pets that either escaped or were released intentionally by their owners. The IDNR is interested in any information the public can provide about possible wolf sightings in Illinois. Please include specific location information. If available, please also send photos or track castings.
Possible wolf sightings may be reported on-line at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/wildlife/sightings_report.cfm or the information may be sent to:
Doug Dufford Wildlife Disease and Invasive Wildlife Program Manager Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife Resources
8542 North Lake Road
Lena, IL 61048
Office Phone (815) 369-2414 Office Fax (815) 369-2128