North American Gray Wolf

Timber Wolf/North American Gray Wolf      Canis lupus

Type of Animal:

Forest, woodland, forest edge, tundra, prairie, taiga, brushland, grassland, mountains

Alaska, Canada, N. Rocky Mountain states of Idaho, Montana & Wyoming, Pacific N.W, Dakotas, N. Nebraska, parts of Minnesota, N. Wisconsin & N. Michigan. Historically, throughout much of W. U.S. & Plains states plus much of Great Lakes states & E. U.S.

Usually gray-black back w/ white neck & beige/gold/whitish side, somewhat pointy ears, black nose, some wolves all black.

Bison, deer, elk, caribou, moose, musk ox, pronghorn, goats, sheep, rabbits, hares, pikas, foxes, coyotes, bear cubs, domestic alpacas/llamas, badgers, rodents (especially beavers), shrews, moles, birds, eggs, frogs, cattle, carrion, pigs, seals, berries, fruit, equines, veggies, dogs, cats, fish, refuse, bobcats, lynxes, otters, reptiles. Rare cases of man-eating wolves.

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos & wildlife parks. Reintroduction programs into Yellowstone & Idaho began in 1995 w/ success. Reintroductions into Great Lakes region have had more mixed results.

Packs consist of alpha pair w/ 1-4 litters of their offspring, each one having 4-7 pups (Older offspring act as subordinates). Some subordinates are same-sex siblings of alpha animals. Packs formed from emigrating wolf or group meeting an opposite-sex wolf (or wolves) & they establish a territory.

Additional Info:


Male-75-125 lbs
Female-60-90 lbs
Young-15 lbs

2 months

Male-3.5 ft
Female-2.5 ft

Body Length:
Male-5-6.5 ft
Female-4.5-6 ft

Life Span: 
10-12 years in wild, up to 16 years in captivity

Tail Length:
1.25-1.58 ft

Adults occasionally preyed on by golden eagles. Pups preyed on by brown bears & coyotes.

Packs very territorial & fights between neighboring packs often result in death.

Most common ways to mark territory are urine/scent marking & howling.

Sexually mature at a year old.

Increasing in wild but threats still loom: persecution as livestock/pet killer, hunting for fur/sport, habitat loss, disease, fear, human encroachment, road collisions, & hybridization w/ dogs.

Fun Fact(s):
Revered by many Native American/Canadian tribes for cunning/hunting abilities.

Though closest cousin to domestic dogs, they’re very shy/elusive in wild & don’t make good pets. Dangerous if cornered. Some wolves have been bred w/ domestic dogs creating “wolfdogs.” Not nearly as aggressive as portrayed in many movies.

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