|Size:||Length: Up to 6.5 feet (1.9 m)|
|Weight:||30 to 175 pounds (14 to 79 kg)|
|Diet:||Deer, caribou, rabbits, birds, berries and carrion|
|Distribution:||North America, Europe, Russia, Middle East, India and Asia|
|Young:||2 to 14 pups, once per year|
|Animal Predators:||Grizzly bears|
|IUCN Status:||No special status|
|Lifespan:||8 to 16 years in the wild; up to 20 years in captivity|
· Wolves can go for two weeks without eating.
· Grey wolves are also known as Timber wolves and Tundra wolves.
· Grey wolves are usually grey in colour, but can sometimes be black or white.
· In the United States, the wolf currently occupies only 1 percent of its former range.
· Native American cultures have great respect for the wolf and its abilities.
· The grey wolf is one of the most social carnivores.
· Only four instances of non-rabid wolves behaving aggressively towards humans have ever been reported.
Although they are known as grey wolves, the colour of their fur differs depending on where they live. They tend to take on the colour of their surroundings, and range from creamy-white to reddish brown, grey and black. Males are usually larger than females.
Wolves’ territories vary in size from 10 to 8,000 square miles (26 to 20720 sq km). Equally at home in forested areas, mountains or open plains, they are more dependent on the availability of prey rather than their surroundings. They will often follow herds of caribou or deer, especially in the winter when food is scarce. Wolves make their dens in caves, under hollow logs, or in a hole in the ground.
Wolves feed on weak, old or juvenile deer and caribou, chasing after a herd and biting at the legs of a slower member. Wolves do not run great distances, and if they don’t catch a member of the herd within about 5,400 yards (4938 m), they often do not continue the chase. Smaller prey such as rabbits and birds make up part of the wolves’ diet, as well as berries and even carrion, if nothing else is available.
Mating season is January to April. In the spring, females have litters of two to 14 pups. The female usually gives birth in a den made of the burrow of another animal that she and her mate have enlarged. The den may be used several years in a row. The pups are tiny at birth (16 ounces/450 grams), and are born with their eyes closed. Their eyes open in approximately two weeks and at three weeks, they make their first appearance outside the den. At six to eight weeks, the pups begin to be weaned. The other members of the pack help the female to feed and take care of the pups. The parents and older siblings show great affection for the youngest members of their family and can often be seen playing with the pups. After approximately two years, young wolves leave the pack to find a mate and to start their own pack.
Despite their reputations, wolves rarely attack man and would prefer to run away from one. They live and hunt in packs. The strongest male of the pack is the leader, known as the alpha male, and his mate is the alpha female. Packs are usually made up of the children of the male and female alpha wolves, but occasionally other relatives or even unrelated wolves will join. Wolves howl to maintain contact with the rest of the pack. Pack size varies from an average of two to 15 wolves, and sometimes as many as 40. They are usually nocturnal, but may become more active by day during cold weather, when people stay inside.
In the 1800s, settlers in western United States thought wolves were a threat to humans and began organized efforts to wipe the wolf out. This in turn has led to the overpopulation of other species in various areas, causing different problems. Controversial efforts are now underway in U.S. national parks to reintroduce wolves. Grey wolves are considered Endangered in the U.S. by the Endangered Species Act. Currently, three wolf populations are listed by the IUCN. The Italian subpopulation is considered Vulnerable; the Spanish-Portuguese subpopulation is listed as Lower risk, conservation dependent; and the Mexican subpopulation is Extinct in the wild.