The Grey Wolf (Canis lupus) is listed as of ‘Least Concern’, although it was listed as ‘Endangered’ in 1974 after the animals came close to elimination in many U.S. states. In northwestern Wyoming, where there are still only around 300, the Grey wolf remains a protected species. Genetic studies reaffirm that the Grey Wolf is the ancestor of the domestic dog and closely resembles German shepherds or Malamutes. The Grey wolf lives for 7-8 years in the wild and can live up to 10 years or more. It is also called the Timber Wolf and is the largest of the 41 species of the dog family, Canidae. The Grey wolf is a powerful, muscular animal with a thick bushy tail. The color varies from pure white, mostly found in the far north of North America, through mottled gray to brown or black. Grizzled gray is the most common color. Grey wolves require no shelter, although females dig dens or use caves in which to birth pups. Grey wolves are social predators. The pack lives in a nuclear family consisting of a mated pair, offspring and, often, adopted immature wolves. Average pack size is from 2-8, but can total up to 36. Each pack ranges over its own territory – covering from 50 to 5,000 miles.The major prey of the wolves are deer, moose, elk, caribou, bison, musk-oxen, and mountain sheep. In lean times, they will also eat smaller mammals such as beaver, rabbits, and small rodents. Their original worldwide range has been reduced by about one-third by poisoning and deliberate persecution. Since 1970, legal protection, land-use changes and rural human population shifts to cities have arrested wolf population declines and fostered reintroduction and natural recolonization in parts of its range. Continued threats include competition with humans for livestock, especially in developing countries, exaggerated concern by the public regarding the threat and danger of wolves, and fragmentation of habitat, with range areas becoming too small to support pack populations.
“I’ve always said that the best wolf habitat resides in the human heart. You have to leave a little space for them to live.” Ed Bangs.
Ed Bangs is the Wolf Recovery Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the western state of Montana said: “We have recovered the wolf population. They are now viable. The Endangered Species Act did the job to bring wolves back. In recent years there has been isolated hunting allowed when wolves briefly came off the endangered list in some areas. Some 265 wolves were killed last year in the northern Rockies because of cattle problems but the population still grew 8%.” He offered reassurances that conservationists would be keeping an eye on the nation’s wolf population over the next 5 years. He vowed that: “If the states don’t do a good job over 5 years, we put them back on the Endangered species list.”