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anonymous The Wolf Family July 18, 2007 4:06 AM

North American Wolves

Once abundant throughout North America, wolves have over the past 200 years,
felt a constant impact of the
Human Population. Even today, their number
continues to dwindle as they are forced into smaller and smaller habitat.

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:06 AM

Gray Wolf  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:07 AM

Gray Wolf
(Canis lupus)

Gray Wolf

The North American Gray WolfHowling Wolf

Wolf Fishing The gray wolf (Canis lupus) also called the timber wolf, is the largest of about 41 wild species within the dog family, Canidae, of the order Carnivora. They range in size from 26" to 38" shoulder height, 39" to 80" in length (tip of nose to end of tail), and vary in weight from 57 to 130 pounds. Their coats may vary in color from grey to brown, from white to jet black.

They usually hunt at night and feed primarily on large hoofed mammals such as deer, caribou, elk, and moose, but sometimes eat berries, birds, beaver, fish, and insects. Animals that they kill are usually young, old, or otherwise weaker members of their populations because they are easiest to capture. Most pursuits of prey range in length from 110 yds. to 3.1 miles. Healthy wolves rarely, if ever, attack humans. Their range once covered most of North America. However, today only a few upper states and Canada have a wolf population large enough to maintain itself.

Pack of WolvesThe gray wolf mates for life and lives in packs which can vary in size from 2 to over 15, but are usually from 4 to 7 wolves. The leader of the pack is normally the strongest male, who often determines when and where the pack will hunt, as well as other activities of the pack. Wolfpacks are formed primarily of family members and relatives. They may travel more often, and greater distances than any other terrestrial animal. Their territories may cover from 100 to 260 sq. mi, depending on the abundance of food and water. Territories may also overlap, although wolfpacks very seldom confront one another. Some wolves leave their packs to become lone wolves. Loners may start their own packs if a mate and a vacant area can be found.

Breeding season can vary from January in low latitudes to April in high latitudes. A wolfpack will alternate between a stationary phase from spring through summer and a nomadic phase in autumn and winter. The stationary phase involves caring for pups at a den or homesite. Mother Wolf w/PupDuring summer, most movements are toward or away from the pups, and adults often travel and hunt alone. By autumn, pups are capable of traveling extensively with the adults, so until the next whelping season the pack usually roams as a unit throughout its territory in search of prey. Though often only the highest ranking male and female in a pack will breed, all members of the pack are involved in raising the young. Mortality factors affecting wolves include persecution by humans, killing by other wolves, diseases, parasites, starvation, and injuries by prey. Most wolves probably live less than 10 years in the wild.

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:08 AM

Red Wolf
(Canis rufus)

Red Wolf

The North American Red Wolf

Red Wolf in Action

Although it has been suggested that the red wolf (Canis rufus) originated as a fertile cross between gray wolves and coyotes, the red wolf may have existed in North America before both the gray wolf and the coyote. Fossils up to 750,000 years old indicate that the red wolf may be a close relative to a primitive ancestor of the North American canids.

Prowling Red WolfThe red wolf is similar to but smaller than the gray wolf and is intermediate in many characteristics between gray wolves and coyotes. It often interbreeds with the coyote, and because of this, it is believed that the red wolf may eventually become extinct by hybridization, rather than by man. It ranges in size from 15" to 16" shoulder height, 55-65" in length, and can weigh anywhere from 40 to 90 pounds. Its colors range from cinnamon red to almost black, with tan markings above the eyes. It feeds mainly on birds, rabbits, and other small rodents, but will also hunt deer and other large prey if available.
Red Wolf in Brush

The red wolf's historic range covered the southeastern portion of the United States, reaching as far west as Texas and north to Illinois. Their preferred habitat was warm, moist, and densely vegetated, although they were also present in pine forests, bottom land hardwood forests, coastal prairies, and marshes.

Destruction of forests and coastal marsh habitat, as well as widespread persecution and predator control activities, brought them close to extinction. All of this in addition to hybridization. In 1980, they were declared biologically extinct in the wild. In the wild, red wolves normally establish life-long mates, and their packs usually consist of an adult pair and the young. They reach breeding maturity in their second or third year. Breeding seasons can vary from March to May. Den sites include stream banks, enlarged burrows of other animals, hollow trees, and sandy knolls in coastal areas.

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:09 AM

Wolves of
Central & South America

Mexican Gray Wolf

The last known wild Mexican wolf in the United States was killed in 1970.
They were listed as an Endangered Species in 1976, and remained extinct
in the wild until being re-released in 1998.

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:13 AM

When in the wild, the wolf feeds primarily on deer, antelope, rabbits and other small rodents. As the smallest subspecies of gray wolf, the Mexican gray wolf varies in size from 50 to 64 inches long (nose to tail), 24 to 32 inches shoulder height, and weighs from 50 to 90 pounds. It's coat is usually a blend of black, Mexican Gray Wolf white, and grey. They form in packs which usually consist of a breeding pair and their offspring. Just like the Canis Lupus, all members of the pack help in raising the young.

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:17 AM

The Mexican Gray Wolf
Mexican Gray Wolf

Until the 1900s, the Mexican gray wolf had ranged throughout Central Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, and Western Texas. Settlers at this time began hunting the wolf's prey, forcing the wolf to turn to feeding on the settler's livestock. This in turn lead to the settlers hunting the wolf.
Mexican Gray Wolf

By the 1950s, the Mexican wolf was virtually wiped out in the United States by private trappers and government agencies. The last wild Mexican wolf known of in the United States was shot in 1970. In 1976, they were listed as endangered. Their number has since been increased through captive breeding, and they have been re-released into the wild, though they are still a very rare mammal in the wild.Mexican Gray Wolf white, and grey. They form in packs which usually consist of a breeding pair and their offspring. Just like the Canis Lupus, all members of the pack help in raising the young.

When in the wild, the wolf feeds primarily on deer, antelope, rabbits and other small rodents. As the smallest subspecies of gray wolf, the Mexican gray wolf varies in size from 50 to 64 inches long (nose to tail), 24 to 32 inches shoulder height, and weighs from 50 to 90 pounds. It's coat is usually a blend of black,

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:19 AM

Maned Wolf
(Chrysocyon brachyurus)

Maned Wolf

Although it is a member of the Canedae family, which contains dogs, wolves, and foxes, the maned wolf is the only species in the genus Chrysocyon. It is considered not to be a "true wolf". It looks mostly like an overgrown fox with extremely long legs and a prominent crest of hair across its shoulders.

Maned Wolf in meadow Ancestors of the maned wolf are thought to have spread from North to South America about two million years ago. Broken away from other wolf species in North America, the maned wolf evolved into what it is today.

Maned Wolf on hillside The maned wolf is a flesh eater like all other dogs, although fruits make up about half of its diet. Its favorite food is the wild guinea pig found in its area. It will eat rabbits, rodents, lizards, frogs, birds, fish, and snails. It has sharp teeth for tearing meat, and broad flat molars for crushing fruit. It hunts mainly at dusk and at night. It catches its prey with a swift, high pounce. Occasionally, it digs creatures out of their burrows.

The maned wolf stands up to 3 feet in height, and 4 feet in length. It very seldom weighs over 50 pounds, though it's long legs make it appear to be much heavier. By nature, it lives in dry, shrubby forests, and grasslands with swampy regions that grow high, lush vegitation. The wolf's long legs enable it to see above tall grass, making it easy to spot prey as well as hide from it. The wolf's toes can also be splayed apart, allowing it to walk on marshy grounds.

Breeding Season falls between late Spring and early Summer. Its mating habits have been observed only in captivity. The female takes the lead in mating by bowing in front of the male and rubbing against him while pounding her forepaws on the ground. The female gives birth to four to five cubs in her den. The cubs are fully grown in about a year, and usually mate after they are two years old. Captive maned wolves live between 12-15 years. Their lifespan is unknown in the wild.

Maned Wolf standing in grasslands

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:22 AM

Other Wolves Of The World

Arabian Wolf
(Canis lupus arab)

Arabian Wolf

Arctic Wolf
(Canis lupus arctos)

Arctic Wolf

Dire Wolf
(Canis Dirus)

Dire Wolf
Ethiopian Wolf
(Canis simensis)

Ethiopian Wolf

European Wolf

Italian Wolf
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anonymous the arabi July 18, 2007 4:24 AM

Arabian Wolf

Arabian WolfThe Arabian wolf (Canis lupus arabs ), is probably not present in the UAE at the time of writing. However, they are able to travel up to 60 Kms. in a night and may therefore appear suddenly in an area where they have not been seen for a long time.

In Oman the wolf population has increased significantly since hunting was banned, and there is a strong possibility that they will reappear in the United Arab Emirates in the relatively near future.

Smaller than the European or American wolves, the local animals have shorter hair and are grayish-beige in color.

The pure Arabian wolf’s eyes are yellow with black pupils. Today many are found with brown eyes, a certain sign that they are not of pure blood anymore and that their ancestors have interbred with feral dogs. This poses a very serious threat to the survival of this species.

They do not live in large packs but hunt in pairs or groups of three to four animals. Their cubs are born in a den and it is probably only during this time that the wolves are territorial. Young wolves are blind at birth and are weaned at the age of about eight weeks, at which time the adults start regurgitating food for the pups.

When hunting, the Arabian wolf will attack animals up to the size of a goat. It will also readily eat any carrion that is encountered.

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:24 AM

The Arabian Wolf
Arabian Wolf

Standing approximately 26 inches shoulder height and weighing an average of 40 pounds, The Arabian Wolf is the smallest Wolf subspecies, yet, the largest canid in Arabia. They have short greyish-beige hair which becomes much longer and thicker in winter. Their ears are large in comparison to the rest of it's body (similar to the maned wolf). Their eyes are naturally yellow with black pupils. However, many are found with brown eyes, revealing that somewhere down the line their ancestors have interbred with feral dogs.Arab Wolf

Arab WolfIt is endangered in Arabia, and extinct in the United Arab Emerites. Because of a scarcity of food, they are found in packs only during mating season from October to December, or when food is plentiful. It will kill animals up to the size of a goat, but usually feeds on carrion, small birds, rodents, reptiles and insects. It also eats fruits and plants when meat is scarce. They dig burrows in the sand to protect themselves from the sun, and hunt mainly at night.

The only time that Arabian wolves are known to be territorial is when their pups are born. The litter size can be as large as 12, but is usually only 2 or 3. They are blind at birth and weaned at about eight weeks when the parents start regurgitating food for them.

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:26 AM

The Arctic WolfArctic Wolf and Pup

Able to tolerate years of sub-zero temperatures, up to five months of darkness a year, and weeks without food, the arctic wolf lives in one of the few places on earth where it is safe from the greatest threat of all - man. Arctic wolves inhabit some of the most inhospitable terrain in the world. In April, the air temperature rarely rises above -22° F. The ground is permanently frozen. The arctic wolf is one of the few mammals that can tolerate these conditions. Details of the animal's life through much of the year are virtually unknown.

Wolves usually live in small packs or family groups consisting of a breeding pair, their pups, and their unmated offspring from the prior several seasons. Female Feeding Her Young. The dominant, or breeding, pair are known as the alpha male and alpha female. They are respected by the rest of the pack. All adults in the pack cooperate in feeding and caring for the young.

Throughout the Fall and Winter, artic wolves remain on the move. After mating in March, the pregnant female leaves the pack to find a den to give birth to her pups. She may dig a new one. However, if the ground is frozen, she will be forced to return to an old den in a cave or rock cleft. The pups are born deaf, blind, and helpless. They are totally dependent on their mother, and she in turn relies on her mate to bring her the food she needs. After a month, the pups are able to eat meat. From then on, the whole pack shares the job of feeding them with regurgitatied meat from a kill. The pups may stike out on their own the following year.

Arctic Wolves Chasing Musk Oxen

The arctic wolf preys on lemmings and arctic hare, but its most substantial source of food is musk oxen and caribou. Because of the scarcity of grazing plants, animals must roam a large area in order to find enough food to survive.

They will kill virtually any animal they can catch, and eat every part of it, including skin, fur, and bones. The wolves have up to 800 square miles in which to search for their prey. When Winter temperatures plummet, the wolves may follow migrating caribou South.

The arctic wolves must hunt together in packs when seeking large prey. The caribou or musk oxen are too powerful for any one wolf to take on alone. By the time the pack approches a herd of oxen out in the open, the chance of a surprise attack is long gone; the herd has already formed a defensive circle with the calves in the center. The wolves must then prowl around the herd forcing the oxen to shift their ground to face them. If the wolves are successful, the oxen will scatter. The wolves will then give chase, trying to isolate the young or weak. A musk ox will provide enough food to last the wolves several days.

Arctic Wolf on the Side of a Glacier The shoulder height of the arctic wolf varies from 25 to 31 inches. On average, they are about 3 feet tall from head to toe. Their body length may vary from 3 to 5 feet (nose to tail). Their colors may range from red, gray, white and black. The approximate weight of a full grown male is 175 pounds. In captivity, an arctic wolf can live to be over 17 years. However, the average lifespan in the wild is but 7 years.

Wolves in general have been under threat throughout history. The arctic wolf is the only subspecies still found over the whole of its original range. This is largely because it rarely encounters humans.

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:30 AM

The Dire Wolf (Canis dirus)
Dire Wolf  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:31 AM

The dire wolf became extinct somewhere between 4,000 and 16,000 years ago. This is thought to be partially because of its inability to compete with the faster, more intelligent gray wolf. It is the largest canid known to ever exist. And though it was similar in many ways to the gray wolf, the dire wolf was heavier built, more robust, with shorter and more powerful legs, and a larger head. Dire WolfBeing a heavier animal with shorter legs, the dire wolf would have been slower and less adept at catching prey than the gray wolf. It is, therefore, believed that the dire wolf was more of a scavenger than predator. It would, however, hunt when the opportunity was there. Its teeth were more massive and strong, allowing it to easily consume carcasses. Although its head was larger, the brain case was smaller. A scavenger does not need to outsmart its prey. Also, being larger in size, it would have had less competition.

A fossilized bone was discovered near the Ohio River in Indiana in 1854. However, it wasn't until years later it was determined that this fossil was of an unknown wolf species. It was named Canis Dirus, the Dire Wolf. Thousands of canis dirus fossils have been recovered from the La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles, California where water would be left floating on top of the tar after it rained. When attempting to drink from the pools of water, animals often became trapped in the tar below. The dire wolf and other predators, attempting to feed on the trapped animals, would often become trapped in the tar themselves. Dire Wolf fossils have been found in North, Central, and South America. Their exact range, however, is unknown.

Dire Wolf Skeleton  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous Ethipoian Wolf July 18, 2007 4:33 AM

Ethiopian Wolf #1 (38 Kb JPEG); Ethiopian Wolf #2 (17 Kb JPEG) (Oxford Wildl. Cons. Res. Unit); Ethiopian Wolf #3 (41 Kb GIF) 

The Ethiopian wolf has a bright chestnut-colored coat, bushy tail, pointed ears, slender snout, and long legs. It weighs 11 - 19 kg (24 - 42 lb). It is a localized endemic species and is confined to isolated pockets of grasslands and heathlands. The Ethiopian wolf is found above 3000 m (10,000'). It prefers areas with short vegetation less than 0.24 m (10") high. Rodents account for more than 90% of its prey. The giant mole rat is the main food item; other prey includes grass rats and hares. The Ethiopian wolf is mostly diurnal, but it can be nocturnal in areas where it is persecuted. Dens usually consist of a system of burrows beneath a rock overhang or cliffs. Caching prey and scavenged material in shallow holes is common.

Although Ethiopian wolves live in packs that share and defend an exclusive territory, for the most part they forage and feed alone on small rodent prey. This is in contrast to the general tendency in larger carnivores for species that live in groups to hunt cooperatively.  In optimal habitat, packs include 3 - 13 adults and, on average, are comprised of 6 adults, 1 - 6 yearlings, and 1 - 7 pups. A typical pack is an extended family group formed by all males born into the pack during consecutive years and 1 - 2 females. All pack members participate in the defense and marking of the territory, and parents and sub-adult helpers contribute to the rearing of pups.

The Ethiopian wolf is endemic to Ethiopia.  It was reported from most provinces in Ethiopia in the 19th century. By the 1970's it had declined considerably. The Ethiopian wolf currently is confined to seven isolated subpopulations in different mountain ranges of the Ethiopian highlands. Wolf populations occur north of the Rift Valley in the Simien Mountains, Mount Guna, North Wollo and South Wollo highlands, and Menz. Southeast of the Rift Valley there are populations in the Arsi (formerly "Arussi") Mountains and in the Bale Mountains. More than half of the species' population lives in the Bale Mountains.

Continuous loss of habitat due to high-altitude subsistence agriculture represents the major current threat to the Ethiopian wolf. Sixty percent of all land above 3,200 m (10,000') has been converted into farmland, and all Ethiopian wolf populations below 3,700 m (12,000') are particularly vulnerable to further habitat loss. Habitat loss is exacerbated by overgrazing of highland pastures by domestic livestock, and in some areas habitat is threatened by proposed development of commercial sheep farms and roads. Hybridization of the Ethiopian wolf with domestic dogs could threaten the genetic integrity of the Ethiopian wolf population, but hybridization is currently confined to one valley in western Bale.

canid in the world (Sillero 2001), and one of the world's rarest mammals.

*** "The Ethiopian wolf does not play a major role in mankind's culture or economy.  So far as we know, there is no mention of it in the culture or folklore of Ethiopia." (Sillero-Zubiri & Macdonald 1997)

*** Around 1990 it was decided that the English name of Canis simensis should be the "Ethiopian wolf", rather than the "Simien jackal", as it had previously been called. This was based on genetic findings, which showed that Canis simensis is closely related to wolves and only distantly related to jackals.

*** Unlike most canids, the Ethiopian wolf lives in open country above 3000 m (10,000') where rodent biomass is very high, reaching 3 - 4000 kg/sq km (27 - 36 lb/acre) (Gottelli & Sillero-Zubiri 1992). The Bale Mountains in the southeastern highlands of Ethiopia, where the largest population of Ethiopian wolves occurs, contain the largest contiguous area above 3000 m (10,000') on the African continent (Laurenson et al. 1998).

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:33 AM

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:34 AM

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:35 AM

Other Names: English: Simien fox, Simien jackal, French: loup d'Abyssinie; German: Aethiopienfuchs; Italian: volpe rossa; Spanish: lobo Etiope; Indigenous names: Amharic: ky kebero. Oromo: jedalla farda (Ethiopia).

Species Account:  pdf icon (288 K)

Status: Endangered (2004)



Relevant Links



  • (lots of photos and movies of Ethiopian wolves)

(photo of golden jackal)


Ethiopian wolf - (c) Claudio Sillero

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:35 AM

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:37 AM

European WolvesEuropean Wolfpack  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:38 AM

European wolves, like most all others, live and hunt in packs which are extended families of an alpha (the dominant male), his mate, and their offspring. They usually stay within a home range, but may wander far outside their territory to hunt. They hunt and kill game up to 10 times heavier than their own weight. Wild reindeer, elk, and red deer are their favorite prey. European wolves will also eat much smaller animals such as mice and frogs. Because of the decline in the number of wild game, they have begun to prey on domestic horses, cattle, and dogs. Starving wolves will even eat potatoes, fruits, buds, and lichen.

The alpha male and female mate between January and March. The cubs are born seven weeks later in a den dug among bushes or rocks. The male brings food back to the den, either by carrying it whole or by swallowing and then regurgitating it for the others to eat. As the cubs grow, the mother and other members of the pack help to feed them. SnowWolf

Few European countries still have substantial numbers of wolves. Wild wolves are hard to count, so exact numbers are not known. Sometimes radio-tracking is used to determine their numbers. European wolves have managed to survive only in the most remote, mountainous, or densely forested regions. Areas in which these wolves can live without coming into conflict with humans are decreasing. There is little effective international agreement about the wolf's conservation. All efforts to preserve the wolf are conducted locally.

Because of the increasing shortage of natural prey in Italy, wolves have been forced to give up their pack-hunting habits, and scavenge for food around villages and farmhouses. Roughly, about 250 wolves live in remote mountainous areas in Italy, and are officially protected. Projects which are financed by the World Wide Fund for Nature may enable small numbers of wolves to survive if farmers and herdsman can be persuaded to accept them. Many rural villages have open dumps where the local slaughterhouse disposes of its waste. Many wolves feed there alongside feral or stray dogs. These dogs and wolves will occasionally mate, and their offspring are often impossible to distinguish from ordinary dogs.
European Wolfdog

The wolf-dog's (Right) deceptive appearance makes it all that more dangerous. Wolf-dogs may wander freely through populated areas, unrecognized as wolves. They are wilder than their feral parents. They can be extremely ferocious, and are often infected with rabies.

In Norway, Wolves are protected to the extent that they are illegal to kill by anyone other than farmers protecting their livestock. To prevent continuous slaughter, farmers are often compensated for livestock which is killed by the endangered wolves.

"Grupo Lobo" was founded in Spain and Portugal in 1985 in attempt to protect the wolves in the mountains on the Spain/Portugal border. There is an extremely small number of wolves in Sweden, regardless of protective legislation. These systems are often abused. Lapp herdsman in the North of Sweden have often blamed the deaths of their reindeer on wolves rather than on poor care. Italian Wolves

The "wolf-plague" in Scotland resulted in the extermination of the animal there. The last British wolf died in 1743. Wolves survived in Ireland until about 1773. Similar waves of wolf persecution on the European continent has driven the few survivors into remote areas far away from human settlement.

Although the wolf is a protected species in most European countries, some hunters see no reason to stop killing wolves for sport, and will pay a great deal of money for the privilege. Wolf survival in Europe obviously requires more than simple legislations. These wolves are rather shy and intelligent, yet they are still viewed as a ruthless predator by the mainstream.

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:40 AM

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:42 AM

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:43 AM

Timber Wolf

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:44 AM

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?An exploration of the history of our relationship with predators: why we feel fear, hatred, joy and curiosity in their presence.
Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?
The polarized agendas that dictate predator management in Britain today are driven by social, economic and cultural divide. But the dominant factor in predator discussions is based on raw emotion. Primeval feelings war with each other: predators are frightening, threatening and strike at the very heart of our sense of control. Yet a stronger emotion is rooted deep within us – a need to feel the wild, the dangerous and the exciting.

As a species we have fought hard to remove all of our wild competitors, allowing us to live without the threat of rival predators. But now that we have achieved control of the wild, is there a part of us that wants it back again?  [report anonymous abuse]
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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:59 AM


Historically, wolves roamed throughout the lower 48 states, but centuries of misconceptions and hostility toward the species led to intense human persecution. These factors coupled with habitat loss effectively wiped out the species throughout most of the country during the twentieth century.

Defenders of Wildlife has been a leader in wolf conservation since wolves first appeared on the federal endangered species list.

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:59 AM

Gray Wolf (Photo: Corel)

Actions taken:
45,431Actions needed:

Stop the Latest Assault on Our Wolves

The Bush/Cheney Administration has announced two proposals to jumpstart the killing of hundreds of wolves in the Yellowstone area and elsewhere in the Northern Rockies.

Officials in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are now seeking public comment on the agency’s proposal to accept Wyoming’s disastrous wolf management plan and to give Idaho and Wyoming vast new powers to kill wolves -- even while these magnificent animals remain listed under the Endangered Species Act.

The deadline for comments on these two flawed proposals is Monday, August 6th. Please fill out the form below to send your message to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service right now.
We’ve provided some text to get you started below, but please remember to personalize your message. Check out more information about the agency’s wolf proposals to help get you started.

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 5:01 AM

Red wolf in captive
breeding program in
Tallahassee, FL.

Red Wolf

Canis rufus

The red wolf is a smaller and a more slender cousin of the gray wolf. It is gray-black, with a reddish cast that gives it the color for which it is named.

Height: About 26 inches at shoulders
Length: 4.5-5.5 feet long (including the tail)
Weight: 50-80 lbs

Lifespan: 6-7 years in the wild; up to 15 years in captivity


The red wolf’s diet consists primarily of small mammals such as rabbits and rodents.  Also known to eat insects, berries and occasionally deer.


Almost hunted to the brink of extinction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rounded up fewer than 20 pure red wolves to be bred in captivity in 1980. As of August 2005, approximately 165 captive red wolves reside at 38 captive breeding facilities across the United States. Thanks to these programs, nearly 100 red wolves currently live in the wild.


Historically, red wolves ranged throughout the southeastern United States from Pennsylvania to Florida and as far west as Texas. Today, wild populations roam more than 1.5 million acres throughout northeastern North Carolina, including Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.


Red wolves are primarily nocturnal (active at night), and communicate by scent marking, vocalizations (including howling), facial expressions and body postures.

Shy and secretive, red wolves hunt alone or in small packs -- complex social structures that include the breeding adult pair (the alpha male and female) and their offspring. Red wolves tend to form pair-bonds for life.

Size of the pack varies with the size of available prey populations.  A hierarchy of dominant and subordinate animals within the pack helps it to function as a unit. Dens are often located in hollow trees, stream banks and sand knolls.

Mating Season Late winter
Gestation 60-63 days. 
Litter size 2-8 pups 


Threats to the red wolf include habitat loss due to human development, negative attitudes that hinder restoration, severe weather, deaths by motor vehicles, and illegal killings. Interbreeding between coyote and red wolf populations has remained a constant threat to the recovery of this imperiled species.

Legal Status/Protection

* Endangered Species Act
Status: Endangered, with special regulations in designated areas

* The Endangered Species Act requires the US federal government to identify species threatened with extinction, identify habitat they need to survive, and help protect both. In doing so, the Act works to ensure the basic health of our natural ecosystems and protect the legacy of conservation we leave to our children and grandchildren.

For additional information

Visit Defenders' Imperiled Species: Wolf pages for more information about what Defenders is doing to help.

The Red Wolf Coalition
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Red Wolf Recovery Project

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 5:02 AM

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 5:03 AM

Mexican Wolf

Canis lupus baileyi

Mexican wolves are the smallest subspecies of North American gray wolves. They are also the most endangered. Commonly referred to as "El lobo," the Mexican wolf is gray with light brown fur on its back. Its long legs and sleek body enable it to run fast.

Height 26-32 inches at the shoulder
Length 4.5-5.5 feet from nose to tip of tail
Weight 60-80 lbs; Males are typically heavier and taller than the females

Lifespan Up to 15 years in captivity


Staples Ungulates (large hoofed mammals) like white-tailed deer, mule deer and elk
Also known to eat smaller mammals like rabbits, ground squirrels and mice.


Once extirpated from the southwestern United States, 34 wolves returned to southeastern Arizona following a reintroduction program begun in March, 1998. There are only about 200 Mexican wolves in captivity. The goal of the reintroduction program is to restore at least 100 wolves to the wild by 2008.


Mexican wolves once ranged from central Mexico to southwestern Texas, southern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. Today, the Mexican wolf has been reintroduced to the Apache National Forest in southeastern Arizona and may move into the adjacent Gila National Forest in western New Mexico as the population expands.


Mexican wolves prefer to live in mountain forests, grasslands and shrublands, and are very social animals. They live in packs, which are complex social structures that include the breeding adult pair (the alpha male and female) and their offspring. A hierarchy of dominant and subordinate animals within the pack help it to work as a unit.

Mating Season Mid February-mid March
Gestation 63 days
Litter size 4-7 pups
Pups are born blind and defenseless. The pack cares for the pups until they mature at about 10 months of age.


Humans and habitat destruction pose the greatest threat to Mexican wolves.

Defenders of Wildlife has been a leader in wolf conservation since wolves first appeared on the federal endangered species list.

Legal Status/Protection

*Endangered Species Act (ESA), **CITES Appendix I
* The Endangered Species Act requires the US federal government to identify species threatened with extinction, identify habitat they need to survive, and help protect both. In doing so, the Act works to ensure the basic health of our natural ecosystems and protect the legacy of conservation we leave to our children and grandchildren.

** Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international treaty with more than 144 member countries. Appendix I listed species cannot be traded commercially. Appendix II listed species can be traded commercially only if it does not harm their survival.

For additional information

Visit Defenders' Wolf pages for more information about what Defenders is doing to help.

Southwest Wolves Section
International Wolf Center
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 5:05 AM

The Basics of Wolf Biology and Taxonomy

The gray wolf (Canis lupus) is the largest member of the canid (dog) family in North America. The table below compares the size and appearance of the gray wolf to the other canid species in the U.S.

Gray Wolf
(Canis lupus)Red Wolf
(Canis rufus)Coyote
(Canis latrans)Fox
(Vulpes or Urocyon)Size5-6 feet long from nose to tail3-4 feet long from nose to tail3-4 feet long from nose to tail3-3.5 feet long from nose to tailWeight80-120 pounds40-80 pounds30-40 pounds12 poundsColor gray, tan, brown, black, or whitereddish brown, black, or grayreddish brown, tan, or gray red-brown (red fox)grizzled- gray (gray fox)Eye color Yellow, green, or brownishYellow, green, or brownishYellow to greenYellow to brown

Wolves are highly intelligent. Their acute hearing and exceptional sense of smell - up to 100 times more sensitive than that of humans - make them well-adapted to their surroundings and to finding food. Some researchers estimate that a wolf can run as fast as 40 miles an hour. Wolves have been known to travel 120 miles in a day, but they usually travel an average of 10 to 15 miles a day.

Pack Life

Wolves live, travel, and hunt in packs of four to seven animals, consisting of an alpha, or dominant pair, their pups, and several other subordinate or young animals. The alpha female and male are the pack leaders, tracking and hunting prey, choosing den sites, and establishing the pack's territory. The alpha pair mate in January or February and give birth in spring, after a gestation period of about 65 days. Litters can contain from one to nine pups, but usually consist of around six. Pups have blue eyes at birth and weigh about one pound. Their eyes open when they are about two weeks old, and a week later begin to walk and explore the area around the den. Pups romp and playfight with each other from a very young age. Scientists think that even these early encounters establish hierarchies that will help determine which members of the litter will grow up to be pack leaders. Wolf pups grow rapidly, reaching 20 pounds at two months and full size in a year. All adults share parental responsibilities for the pups. They feed the pups by regurgitating food for them from the time the pups are about four weeks old until they learn to hunt with the pack.

A wolf pup is the same size as an adult by the time he or she is about a year old, and is able to mate by about two years of age. Pups remain with their parents for at least the first year of their of their lives, while they learn to hunt. During their second year of life, when the parents are raising a new set of pups, young wolves can remain with the pack, or spend periods of time on their own. Frequently, they return in autumn to spend their second winter with the pack. By the time wolves are two years old, however, they leave the pack for good to find mates and territories of their own.

Not all the pups in a litter live to the age of dispersal, of course. Biologists have determined that only one or two of every five pups born live to the age of 10 months, and only about half of those remaining survive to the time when they would leave the pack and find their own mates. Adult wolves on the other hand, have fairly high rates of survival. A seven year old wolf is considered to be pretty old, and a maximum lifespan is about 16 years.

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 5:08 AM

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 5:10 AM


Wolves communicate through facial expressions and body postures, scent-marking, growls, barks, whimpers and howls. Howling can mean many things: a greeting, a rallying cry to gather the pack together or to get ready for a hunt, an advertisement of their presence to warn other wolves away from their territory, spontaneous play and bonding. There is no evidence, however, that wolves howl at the moon. Pups begin to howl at one month old. The howl of the wolf can be heard for up to six miles. When wolves in a pack communicate with each other, they use their entire bodies: expressions of the eyes and mouth, set of the ears, tail, head, and hackles, and general body posture combine to express excitement, anxiety, aggression, or acquiescence. Wolves also wrestle, rub cheeks and noses, nip, nuzzle, and lick each other. Wolves also leave "messages" for themselves and each other by urinating, defecating, or scratching the ground to leave scent marks. These marks can set the boundaries of territories, record trails, warn off other wolves, or help lone wolves find unoccupied territory. No one knows how wolves get all this information from smelling scent marks, but it is likely that wolves are very good at distinguishing between many similar odors.


Wolves prey mainly on large hoofed mammals (known as ungulates) such as deer, elk, moose, caribou, bison, bighorn sheep and muskoxen. They also eat smaller prey such as snowshoe hare, beaver, rabbits, opossums and rodents. Although some wolves occasionally prey on livestock, wild prey are by far their preferred food source.

Wolves have several different methods of hunting, depending on the size of the prey. For little tidbits such as mice, an individual wolf will listen for the squeaking and rustling under the leaves, and then pounce with her front paws when she pinpoints the direction of the sound. They will also eat birds, especially when the birds are molting their feathers and cannot fly well. Individual wolves will also chase hares or follow beaver trails to try to catch the animal away from the water. When hunting deer, pack members frequently all participate in the locating and stalking of prey. After that, anywhere from one to all of the wolves will engage in the chase. Larger prey animals, such as moose, caribou, and elk, don't always run when they encounter a pack of wolves. If the prey animal stands its ground, the wolves will often approach cautiously or abandon their pursuit after a few moments. When a prey animal does flee, the pack of wolves will chase them. Most healthy ungulates are fast enough to outrun a pack of wolves. In fact, fewer than one out of ten attempts to chase moose actually end in a successful kill. If they start to fall behind, the pack will usually give up the chase. If the chosen prey is injured, weakened, or old, however, the wolves can usually catch up with them and attack. Contrary to many popular accounts, wolves rarely, if ever, engage in "hamstringing," or biting the tendons on the back of the leg. This practice is simply too dangerous for the wolf, because to bite the leg, the wolves risk getting kicked in the face by the animal's sharp hooves. Wolves tend to concentrate on the neck, shoulders, and sides instead.

Wolves' digestive systems operate somewhat differently than ours. They are adapted to process huge amounts of food at a time, then eat nothing for three days or more. Biologist David Mech witnessed a pack of 15 wolves kill a 600- pound moose and eat about half of it in an hour and a half, meat, bones, fur and all. This works out to about 20 pounds of food per wolf! Mech estimated that the wolves he witnessed in this encounter were about 85 pounds each, which means they each ate about 23% of their body weight. They don't do much chewing, mostly just tearing chunks off and swallowing them whole. After eating their fill, wolves will either spend a few hours relaxing and digesting, or return to the den to regurgitate food for the pups and other pack members who did not join in the hunt. A wolf's digestive system can handle a large amount of food quickly and efficiently, processing the meat and fat so thoroughly that only bones and fur are excreted in the scat.

Taxonomy and Evolution of the Gray Wolf The gray wolf is in:Which includes:And excludes:KingdomAnimaliaAll multicellular organisms that lack cell walls and cannot perform photosynthesisPlants, Fungi, Protists,BacteriaPhylumChordataAll animals that have a backbone or similar internal support Invertebrates (insects, snails, starfish, etc.)ClassMammalia All chordates that have fur and produce milkFish, Amphibians, Reptiles, BirdsOrder CarnivoraAll mammals that mostly eat meatRodents, deer, primates, etc.Family CanidaeAll carnivores that are dog-like, with 42 teeth, walk on their toes, and have long, bushy tailsLions & tigers, bears, raccoons, weasels, etc.GenusCanis*Wolves and coyotes Foxes, bush dogsSpecies lupus*Gray wolfCanis latrans, the coyote
Canis rufus, the red wolfSubspeciesbaileyi*
lycaon* Mexican gray wolf
Eastern timber wolf Gray wolves of other subspecies

*The genus and species form the "scientific name" of the species and are always italicized or underlined. The genus name is capitalized, the species name is not. The subspecies name, when used, is lower case, italicized, and follows the species name, e.g. Canis lupus lycaon. The map on the following page shows the distribution of the two species and various subspecies of wolves in North America.

Scientists are not absolutely certain about the details of how and where the wolf evolved, but by examining fossil bones, especially skulls, of animals that lived millions of years ago, they have been able to form educated hypotheses about the ancestry of wolves and their relationships with other animals. Wolves and other predators probably evolved from a small meat-eating mammal that lived in th  [report anonymous abuse]

anonymous  July 18, 2007 5:11 AM

Scientists are not absolutely certain about the details of how and where the wolf evolved, but by examining fossil bones, especially skulls, of animals that lived millions of years ago, they have been able to form educated hypotheses about the ancestry of wolves and their relationships with other animals. Wolves and other predators probably evolved from a small meat-eating mammal that lived in the early Cenozoic Era, 65 million years ago. Specialized teeth for eating meat appeared about 55 million years ago in an animal called Miacis. It is likely that the dogs, cats, bears, weasels, raccoons and other carnivores all branched off from this line of primitive carnivore. A distinctively doglike mammal a little smaller than a fox, called Cynodictus, arose about 30 million years ago. Over the next 10 million years, this branch of the carnivore lineage developed a larger brain, longer legs, and the dewclaw, or reduced fifth toe that is visible in dogs. Wolves began to take on their distinctively large size about 15 million years ago, and looked like they do today by about 1 million years ago. Every breed of dog that we have today, from poodles to huskies, are descended from a small subspecies of wolf that was domesticated in China about 12,000 to 15,000 years ago.

The above information is taken from the Defenders of Wildlife's Wolf Pack Education Curriculum.

Wolf Fact Sheets

Gray wolf
Red wolf
Mexican wolf

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 5:13 AM

Yummy, Wolf picture  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous  July 18, 2007 5:14 AM

Pretty Wolf Mama and two pups photo

New Born Pups

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anonymous Wolf Sounds July 18, 2007 5:17 AM

     grrr Sound
      Howlin Sound
      Lonewolf Sound
      Timberwolf Sound
      Wolf Sound
      Wolflove Sound
      Wolves2 Sound
      Wolves3 Sound

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 5:21 AM

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Wolves July 19, 2007 11:18 AM

Wow! Sid,thank you for all this thorough and great information about the wolves.As well as the really wonderful pictures. I think wolves are such beautiful majestic creatures,definatly a favourite of mine. Loved reading this. Rebecca  [ send green star]
anonymous Thanks July 19, 2007 3:16 PM

Thanks for sharing,Sid,great information and pictures!  [report anonymous abuse]
 July 20, 2007 9:11 PM

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anonymous  July 24, 2007 5:40 AM

Gray Wolf (Photo: Corel)  Wont you help Save me?  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous  August 20, 2007 11:37 AM

Thanks for all the info Sid...Wonderful job...Action taken!!  [report anonymous abuse]
Wolf Petition! January 02, 2008 6:01 PM Please check out this petition about keeping wolves safe. It is very close to meeting its goal! If you agree with it, please sign. Also, please crosspost where appropriate! Thanks!  [ send green star]
anonymous  January 03, 2008 7:49 AM

signed..  i have my computer room dedicated to wolves.  all over the room..  lol..  what beautiful animals.  [report anonymous abuse]
Petition met goal! January 03, 2008 9:20 AM

Yah! Let's hope it keeps going!!  [ send green star]
anonymous  January 06, 2008 4:12 PM

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