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Wolf FAQ

  • There are only two species of wolf in North America--the gray wolf and the red wolf. Other subspecies in the U.S include:


    • Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf

    • Mexican wolf

    • Arctic wolf

    • Eastern wolf

    • Alexander Archipelago wolf

    • Great Plains wolf

  • Red wolves: Red wolves live at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina. This is the only location where wild red wolves can be found today.

    Rocky Mountain wolf: Canadian Rocky Mountain wolves live in the northwest United States; such as Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, Canada, and Alaska. 

    Mexican gray wolf: Mexican wolves are native to Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico.

    Algonquin wolf: the Algonquin wolf (or the eastern wolf) lives in Canadian regions.

  • Wolf packs consist of a breeding pair and their offspring. The parents are the only wolves in the pack to mate. When wolf pups reach between the ages of 8 and 18 weeks, the pack will abandon the den in search of a rendezvous site. Once pups reach sexual maturity between 1-2 years of age, two or more wolves will disperse (split) from their natal pack to find and establish a territory of their own. Male wolves are more likely to disperse than females. Older pups will be engaged in caring for the younger pups within the pack during this time. In some occurrences, dispersing wolves will join other packs. If a wolf pack is extensive, there can be more than one breeding pair within the family. If the pack size is standard, there is generally only one breeding pair.

  • In the wild, wolves typically live 2-3 years. However, in captivity, wolves can live up to 16 years due to the safety from risks they face in the wild such as hunters and trappers.

  • Wolves typically breed between the months of February and March. Gestation periods (length of pregnancy) last for 63 days. Normally, litters consist of 4-6 pups although, they can be larger. Wolf pups are typically born in May or early June.

  • Gray wolves primarily prey on ungulates such as elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer, caribou, and bison. In Alaska and western Canada, wolves have been observed fishing, and wolves in Northern Minnesota occasionally consume berries. Red wolves typically hunt smaller animals including white-tailed deer, rodents, and nutria.

  • Wolves are responsible for 0.2% of unwanted livestock fatalities. If you believe wolves endanger your livestock, plenty of non-lethal deterrents and coexistence techniques exist.

  • The weight of a wolf generally depends on its species and sex. Male gray wolves weigh about 90-115 lbs, and females weigh 50-90 lbs. For smaller species such as the red wolf, adult females weigh around 45 lbs and males weigh about 60 lbs. 

  • The scientific classification of a wolf falls into 7 catagories arranged in order. These include:

    Kingdom: Animalia

    Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Mammalia

    Order: Carnivora
    Family: Canidae
    Genus: Canis 
    Species: lupus  

  • Adult wolves have 42 teeth, all serving different purposes. 

    Canines- canines are the long, pointed teeth that are commonly assosiated with predatory animals.  Canine teeth are used for gripping and holding. Which is useful for hunting and taking down prey. Wolves have a bite force of over 400 PSI (pounds per square inch)

    Incisors-incisor teeth are the cuspids in between the canines. They are used for tearing meat and carrying offspring. 

    Premolars & Molars- molars/premolars are used for searing and crushing food.


  • It depends on the species. The Species Survival Plan (SSP) is in effect for Mexican gray wolves and red wolves. The SSP is a conservation effort in which captive-bred animals are released into the wild to increase their population. As for other gray wolves, a recovery effort is yet to be enforced.

  • Phenotype is a term used when referring to the characteristics of an organism. Wolves and dogs may appear similar but also have noticeable differences. These include: 

    Wolves: Tail that hangs straight down, smaller chest width, yellow or golden eyes, ears are rounded at the tip, wolves do not bark, dense fur, large paws.

    Dogs: Tail curves upwards, large chest width, brown or blue eyes, have sharper ears at the tip (spitz-eared breeds), do bark, thinner fur, smaller paws.

    *Wolves (and some closely related dog breeds) have a supracaudal gland (scent gland) near the base of the animal's tail. The gland is defined by a black spot on the tail.
    Phenotype is a term used when referring to the characteristics of an organism. Wolves and dogs may appear similar, but also have noticeable differences too. These include: 

    • Tail that hangs straight down                           

    • Smaller chest width                                                                         

    • Yellow or golden eyes

    • Ears are rounded at the tip

    • Wolves do not bark

    • Dense fur

    • Large paws

  • Much of our misconceptions about wolves are equated to how some people view them in folklore. Fictional stories like Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs made people believe wolves were ferocious killers that ate children and killed humans. But this is completely false. Not only is encountering a wolf rare but being attacked by a wolf is even LESS frequent. In the past 100 years, only 2 people have been killed by wolves. In that same period, there have been only 21 non-fatal attacks.

  • Wolves are beneficial for numerous reasons. They play a vital role in sustaining a healthy ecosystem by ensuring the prey population stays in balance, which enables plant habitat to flourish. This, in turn, creates trophic cascade that benefits other wildlife such as beavers, predatory birds, coyotes, wolverines, foxes, and grizzly bears. Scavengers feed off of the carcasses wolves leave behind after they eat, and the animal's remains provide fertalization for the soil. For these reasons, wolves are known as a 'keystone species'. An animal under this classification is critical to keeping the surroundings in which they live in healthy.

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