Grey wolves have long embodied the spirit of the wilderness. Once they had the largest natural distribution of any mammal except humans. Sadly, they can no longer claim this record as they have been lost from much of their former lands. Grey wolves still occupy a range of habitats including Arctic tundra, prairies and forests.
The young are born blind and deaf in dens and totally reliant on their mother, and the pack, for warmth and food. Hunting with the pack for reindeer and bison begins before the pups are a year old. There are almost 40 subspecies including Arctic, tundra and Arabian wolves, domestic dogs and the dingo. They are the largest of the wild dogs.
Scientific name: Canis lupus
While a pack of Arabian wolves feast in the night, a hyena gatecrashes their dinner.
While a pack of Arabian wolves feast in the middle of the night, a female striped hyena gatecrashes their dinner.
Wolf expert Isaac Babcock captures footage of pups from a new wolf pack.
Wolf expert Isaac Babcock captures footage of pups from a new wolf pack in the US state of Washington.
Coastal wolves reportedly catch fish, seals, sea birds and even forage for mussels.
Coastal wolves have been seen catching salmon but there are also reports of them taking seals, seabirds and even foraging for mussels.
Rare footage of unique behaviour as a coastal wolf successfully fishes for salmon.
Presenter/cameraman Gordon Buchanan captures unique behaviour of a coastal wolf catching fish and is his first close encounter with a wild wolf.
After a 70 year absence, wolves bred in Washington state but their future is uncertain.
The 'Lookout pack' of wolves crossed the border from Canada back into Washington state and were the first wolf pack to breed there in 70 years but their future seems uncertain.
Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
The following habitats are found across the Grey wolf distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Population trend: Stable
Year assessed: 2008
Classified by: IUCN 3.1
The gray wolf or grey wolf (Canis lupus) is a canid native to the wilderness and remote areas of North America, Eurasia, and North Africa. It is the largest member of its family, with males averaging 43–45 kg (95–99 lb), and females 36–38.5 kg (79–84.9 lb). It is similar in general appearance and proportions to a German shepherd, or sled dog, but has a larger head, narrower chest, longer legs, straighter tail and bigger paws. Its winter fur is long and bushy, and predominantly a mottled gray in colour, although nearly pure white, red, or brown to black also occur.
Within the genus Canis, the gray wolf represents a more specialised and progressive form than its smaller cousins (the coyote and golden jackal), as demonstrated by its morphological adaptations to hunting large prey, its more gregarious nature and its highly advanced expressive behavior. It is a social animal, travelling in nuclear families consisting of a mated pair, accompanied by the pair's adult offspring. The gray wolf is typically an apex predator throughout its range, with only humans and tigers posing a serious threat to it. It feeds primarily on large ungulates, though it also eats smaller animals, livestock, carrion, and garbage.
The gray wolf is one of the world's most well researched animals, with probably more books written about it than any other wildlife species. It has a long history of association with humans, having been despised and hunted in most agricultural communities due to its attacks on livestock, while conversely being respected by some Native American tribes. It is the sole ancestor of the dog, which was first domesticated in the Middle East. Although the fear of wolves is prevalent in many human societies, the majority of recorded attacks on people have been attributed to animals suffering from rabies. Non-rabid wolves have attacked and killed people, mainly children, but this is unusual, as wolves are relatively few, live away from people, and have been taught to fear humans by hunters and shepherds. Hunting and trapping has reduced the species' range to about one third of its original range, though its still relatively widespread range and stable population means that the species is not threatened at a global level, and is therefore classified by the IUCN as Least Concern.
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