Wolf populations are continuing to grow in the northern US Rocky Mountains. New wolf census data shows a steadily rising population, especially in Idaho where remote habitat-rich wilderness is ideal for expanding wolf numbers. After being extirpated in the early 20th century, wolves were reintroduced into central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990s. (A few wolves had also begun re-colonizing Montana.)

I’m always inspired simply by the raw data of wolf recovery, especially because the returning wolves have frequently acted as agents of ecological restoration. So when wolf populations are expanding rapidly, their ripple effect on ecosystems is even more positive. The return of the wolf—happening much faster than even the most Pollyanna wolf-lovers predicted—reminds me that, at least in some instances, we still have a chance to repair the harm that we’ve done to wild places.

Here’s the state-by-state breakdown.

Read the full story in today’s Idaho Statesman.