Gray Wolf (facts) Canis lupus


Gray wolf
Canis lupus


Although wolf packs once roamed from the Arctic tundra to Mexico, loss of habitat and extermination programs led to their demise throughout most of the United States by early in the 1900s. In 1973, the US Fish and Wildlife Service listed the northern Rocky Mountain wolf (Canis lupus) as an endangered species and designated Greater Yellowstone as one of three recovery areas. From 1995 to 1997, 41 wild wolves from Canada and northwest Montana were released in Yellowstone National Park. As expected, wolves from the growing population dispersed to establish territories outside the park where they are less protected from human-caused mortalities.

Gray wolves, also referred to as timber wolves, are the largest wild members of the dog family. Males are usually bigger than females. Breeding season is in early February and average gestation period is about 63 days. Pups are born in early April and average litter size is 4-5 pups. They emerge from den at 10-14 days and the pack remains at the den for 3-10 weeks unless disturbed.

Wolves have many color variations but tend to be buff-colored tans grizzled with gray and black (although they can also be black or white). In winter, their fur becomes darker on the neck, shoulders and rump. Their ears are rounded and relatively short, and the muzzle is large and blocky. Wolves generally hold their tail straight out from the body or down. The tail is black tipped and longer than 18 inches.

According to the IUCN this species is considered LEAST CONCERN (lowest threat level).
According to the IUCN this species is considered LEAST CONCERN (lowest threat level).

Length: 4-6 feet (1.2-1.8 m) from nose to tail. Height: 22-36 inches (0.5-0.9 m) tall to the shoulder.

Males: 100-130 pounds (45-59 kg). Females: 80-110 pounds (36-50 kg).

4-5 years

Least concern

Wolves are social animals, living in a family group or pack. A pack usually has six to 10 animals – a dominant (“alpha”) male and female (the breeding pair), pups from the previous year (yearlings) and the current year’s pups. Additional subordinate adults may join the pack upon occasion. The dominant pair is in charge of the pack, raising the young, selecting denning and rendezvous sites, capturing food and maintaining the territory.

A wolf pack’s territory may cover 20-120 square miles, about one tenth the size of an average Wisconsin county. Thus, wolves require a lot of space in which to live, a fact that often invites conflict with humans.

Prey primarily on hoofed animals such as elk and deer, and smaller mammals.

The vocal howl of a wolf is the clearest sign of presence. Animals tightly bunched together instead of being spread across the pasture;  The entire herd or flock is disturbed;  Sheep become panicked in the presence of herding dogs;  Presence of wolf scat or tracks on the farm;  Animals refuse to enter certain areas;  Cattle breaking through otherwise sound pasture fences;  Drastic changes in herd temperament.  Missing livestock


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