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In the United States, the gray wolf is listed under the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species in Minnesota, and as an endangered species elsewhere in the lower 48 states. "Endangered" means a species is considered in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, and "threatened" means a species is considered in danger of becoming endangered. In Alaska, wolf populations number 5,900 to 7,200 and are not considered endangered or threatened. In Minnesota, where the largest wolf population in the lower 48 states resides, a special state program provides compensation for livestock confirmed killed by wolves, and a federal program provides for trapping of individual wolves guilty of depredation.

Wolf groups, or packs, usually consist of a set of parents (alpha pair), their offspring, and other non-breeding adults. Wolves begin mating when they are 2 to 3 years old, sometimes establishing life-long mates. They dig a den or use an existing shelter or structure, sometimes with chambers and connecting tunnels, in which to rear their pups for the first 6 weeks of their lives. An average of six pups per litter are born in early spring. By 7 to 8 months of age, when they are almost fully grown, the young wolves begin hunting with the adults. Often after 1 or 2 years of age, a young wolf will leave and try to form its own pack. Adult wolves can reach a length of 4 feet and a height of 31 inches with a body weight of 150 pounds. This cub is a captive, photographed in Clinton county, Pennsylvania.

Gray Wolf Cub by John Wasserman
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