Gray Wolf

Scientific Name: 
Canis lupus

The gray wolf is a large wild canine that is the ancestor to the domestic dog. An adult wolf can range from 40 to 60 inches in length, can be 32 to 34 inches high at its shoulders and can weigh almost 80 pounds. They are remarkably strong for their size and can run over 35 miles per hour.

The gray wolf is a social hunter that is usually the top predator in their territory. The wolf pack is typically comprised of a mating "alpha" pair and subordinate "beta" wolves that are the mating pair's offspring. Wolves may sometimes invite a wolf that is not part of the immediate family to join the pack. Wolves are generally monogamous and mate for life.

Wolves are very territorial. The alpha pair will establish the pack's territory and use scent marking and howling to discourage other packs from entering their territory. If these methods do not discourage an other wolves from entering the pack's territory, they will defend it aggressively. The pack can cover almost 10 percent of their territory in a single day while hunting food.

A wolf pack hunts together in order to kill large prey. They like to target large ungulates (hoofed animals) like deer, elk, caribou and even moose. The alpha pair tracks the prey and leads the hunt, while the other pack members assist in the kill.

Wolves don't exhibit much preference for a specific habitat other than a place with sufficient food for the pack to hunt. A wolf pack's territory often combines terrain with forests, open country and water.
Wolves hunt in groups and often target large ungulates, like white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, caribou, moose and mountain sheep. They are opportunistic and will feed on nearly any prey they can kill, like rabbits and other rodents. Wolves will also supplement their diets with berries.
The gray wolf was once abundant and its range spanned most of North America, Europe and Asia. Due to loss of habitat and human population growth, wolf territory has been greatly reduced - especially within the United States. Within America, wolf territory is limited to Alaska and portions of the northwest region of the the contiguous United States.
Range Map: