Monday, October 24, 2011

The Wolf Subspecies

This is a chapter from "The Wolf" © 2012 by Wolf Sullivan. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the consent of the author.

The Wolf Subspecies

In the carnivore group of animals there is a family called "canids" that includes all wolf-like animals (wolves, coyotes, fox, jackals, dingos, and dogs). Scientists once believed that there were two species of wolves in the world: the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus), and the Red Wolf (Canis rufus rufus). However, in 2005 the Red Wolf was classified as the Gray Wolf subspecies Canis lupus rufus, although some scientist dispute this. The first Gray Wolf probably appeared in Eurasia about 1,000,000 years ago. Around 750,000 years ago it is thought to have migrated to North America. Canis lupus currently includes 39 subspecies, although the actual number of subspecies is still open to discussion. There are 5 subspecies in North America: the Mexican (lobo), Great Plains (buffalo), Rocky Mountain (or Mackenzie Valley), The Eastern Timber, and the Arctic. Wolves are remarkably similar physically and in behavior, and without extensive skull measurements, subspecies identification is impossible.

In 2005, the subspecies of the Gray Wolf were recognized and divided into two categories: "Northern Wolves", large-sized, large-brained wolves with strong carnassials (teeth) which inhabit North America, Europe and northern Asia, and "Southern Wolves" native to North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and South Asia. They are characterized by their short fur, small brains and weak carnassials. They may represent a population of early wolves, as they closely resemble fossil European wolves, and the their DNA sequences date them to about 800,000 years. American and European lineages stretch back only 150,000 years. The vocalizations of southern wolves have a higher proportion of short, sharp barking, and they seldom howl. Probably dogs and dingoes evolved from Southern Old World wolves.

Some subspecies are difficult to distinguish from one another because they breed with one another where their ranges overlap and their populations tend to blend together rather than form distinctive boundaries. European wolves tend to have coarse fur with less soft wool intermixed than American wolves. Their heads are narrower, their ears longer, higher placed and somewhat closer to each other. Their loins are more slender, their legs longer, their feet narrower, and their tails less furry. Pelt colour in European wolves ranges from white, cream, red, gray and black, sometimes with all colours combined. Wolves in central Europe tend to be more richly coloured than those in Northern Europe. Eastern European wolves tend to be shorter and more heavily built than Northern Russian ones.

North American wolves are generally the same size as European wolves, but have shorter legs, larger, rounder heads, broader muzzles, and a depression at the union of nose and forehead. Their ears are shorter and have a more conical form. They typically lack the black mark on the forelegs and they have long and comparatively fine fur, mixed with a shorter wooly hair, and are more robust. Fur colour in American wolves ranges from white, black, red, yellow, brown, gray, and grizzled skins, and others representing every shade between. There are major differences in North American wolves in different regions. Wolves from Texas and New Mexico are comparatively slim animals with small teeth. Mexican wolves in particular resemble some European wolves in stature, though their heads are usually broader, their necks thicker, their ears longer and their tails shorter. Wolves of the central and northern chains of the Rocky Mountains and coastal ranges are more formidable animals than the more southern plains wolves, and resemble Russian and Scandinavian wolves in size and proportions.

Wolves in Central and East Asia are intermediate in size to northern and southern wolves. Differences in brain size are well defined in different wolf populations, with wolves in northern Eurasia having the highest values, North American wolves having slightly smaller brains, and the southern wolves having the smallest. Southern wolves have brains 5 to 10% smaller than northern wolves. Though different in behavior and morphology, northern and southern wolves can still interbreed. The Zoological Gardens of London, for example, once successfully mated a male European wolf to an Indian female, resulting in a cub bearing an almost exact likeness to its sire.

The Gray Wolf (Canis lupus), also known as the wolf or Timber Wolf, is the largest extant wild member of the Canidae family. Though once abundant over much of Eurasia, North Africa and North America, the gray wolf inhabits a reduced portion of its former range due to widespread destruction of its territory, human encroachment, and the resulting human-wolf encounters that led to an extermination campaign. Yet the gray wolf is regarded as being of least concern for extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, when the entire gray wolf population is considered as a whole. Today wolves are protected in some areas, hunted for sport in others, or may be subject to population control or extermination as threats to livestock, people, and pets.

Gray Wolves are social predators that live in nuclear families consisting of a mated pair, their offspring and, occasionally, adopted immature wolves. They primarily feed on ungulates. They are the greatest predators in the world, always make their presence known to their prey, with only humans and tigers posing significant threats to them.

Their sense of smell is relatively weakly developed compared to some hunting dog breeds, being able to detect carrion upwind no farther than 2 or 3 km. Because of this, they rarely capture hidden hares or birds, though they can easily follow fresh tracks. Captive wolves are known to be able to detect what foods their handlers have eaten by smell. Their auditory perception is very sharp, being able to hear up to a frequency of 26 kHz. Their hearing is sharp enough to register the fall of leaves in the autumn period. Captive wolves in the Regent's Park Zoo showed signs of intense distress when hearing musical low minor chords. Their eyesight is not as powerful as that of dogs, though their night vision is the most advanced of the Canidae. Although the Gray Wolf was once the world's most widely distributed mammal, it had difficulty adapting to human induced changes. Often referred to as an indicator species, indicating conditions such as a disease outbreak, pollution, species competition, or climate change, wolves do not seem to be able to adapt very well to expanding civilization the way coyotes do. While human expansion has seen an increase in the coyotes' numbers, it has caused a drop in those of the wolf.

With the exceptions of the Great Britain and Ireland, wolves were widespread in Europe during the 18th century. Wolves were exterminated from all central and northern European countries during the 19th century and the post World War II period. Populations remain in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece and Finland, though Eurasian wolves have been recovering naturally in several parts of Europe, recolonizing France, Germany, Sweden and Norway. The largest populations now occur in eastern Europe, primarily in Romania, the Balkans and Poland.

Wolf populations generally seem to be stable or increasing. Limiting factors include a lack of acceptance of wolves due to concerns on livestock and dog predation and competition with hunters. Although properly regulated wolf harvests and control have been largely accepted as compatible with maintaining wolf numbers to economically acceptable levels, over hunting and poaching are recognized as the main limiting factor in European wolf populations. There are fewer than 200,000 wolves in the world today in the wild. However, in the USA alone, there are an estimated 80,000 to 2,000,000 privately owned wolves which are not included in any official wolf census.

The Dire Wolf (Canis dirus) looked much like a Gray Wolf. It evolved earlier and the two co-existed in North America for about 100,000 years. As prey became extinct around 16,000 years ago due to climatic change, the Dire Wolf became extinct about 10,000 years ago. Around 7,000 years ago the Gray Wolf became the prime wolf predator in North America. The Dire Wolf had dog and hyena-like characteristics, scavenging for already-dead carcasses and was not much of an active hunter. It was not quite like any animal we have today and was similar in overall size and mass to a large modern Gray Wolf. There were several important differences. The dire wolf had a larger, broader head and shorter, more sturdy legs than its modern relative. Its teeth were much larger and more massive than those of the Gray Wolf, well-adapted to crushing bones, which would have extracted all nourishment from any corpses it found. But the braincase of the dire wolf was also smaller than that of a similarly-sized Gray Wolf. The fact that the lower part of the legs of the Dire Wolf were proportionally shorter than those of the Gray Wolf, indicates that the Dire Wolf was probably not as good a runner as the Gray Wolf.

Researchers are only certain about the bone and body structure of the Dire Wolf's appearance from the thousands of dire wolf skeletons they have found. These complete and well-preserved skeletons tell us definitively about the size, weight and overall shape of the dire wolf, but cannot determine ear height, typical coat coloring, length and texture of fur, or eye color. What we know about those physical traits we can only speculate based upon a thorough examination of what scientists know about carnivore survival through nature's natural selection. However, through Isotopic Analysis we can learn about the Dire Wolf's eating habits which directly affects how the dire wolf used its massive body to effectively hunt and thus acquire the build needed to maintain such a diet. By also analyzing the diverse body structure of domesticated dog breeds, we can speculate with some degree of certainty about other habits that may have had an effect on the dire wolf's appearance compared to its close cousin, the Gray Wolf.

The Dire Wolf stood just over 2 feet tall (between 25 to 30 inches) and weighed on average 110 pounds with a maximum weight of 150 pounds, although some sources claim from 125 to 175 pounds. The larger bone set of the Dire Wolf compared to Gray Wolves living today would have created a much broader, stockier and denser animal. Feet of the Dire Wolf were larger with a notable splay enough to carry the heavy frame. The Dire Wolf's head is most significantly unique in that it was much broader, larger in size, and heavier than the typical Gray Wolf. Despite this increase in skull size, the Dire Wolf had a smaller brain cavity. The length of the Dire Wolf from head to tail was about five to six feet.

Scientists have developed two theories for coat color in the Dire Wolf, depending on where the Dire Wolf may have originated. During the Ice Age, the watery passage between the northern Siberian coastline and Alaska's closest shores was completely covered in a thick layer of ice. This would have allowed migrating animals free passage across the Bering Land Bridge. Researchers maintain that the Gray Wolf crossed this icy passageway arriving after the Dire Wolf already dominated the North American landscape. It is entirely possible that the Dire Wolf also took this convenient route earlier and set up residence long before the Gray Wolf emerged onto the scene. Another theory is since the Dire Wolf population dominated the Gray Wolf 10 to 1, we could conclude the Dire Wolf emerged from a completely different location. Some researchers speculate that the Dire Wolf came from South America, migrating north until reaching the chilly tundra surroundings of North America. As Dire Wolf skeletons have also been found in parts of South America, this is entirely possible.

These two migration theories pose a mystery and two coat colour hypotheses begin to emerge. It is generally believed that the Dire Wolf was the direct descendent of the Armbruster's Wolf (Canis armbrusteri) while the modern Gray Wolf is descended from the Hare-eating Wolf (Canis lepophagus). Therefore, the Dire Wolf is a completely different species from the Gray Wolf, much like the coyote or jackal. The diversity of these two wolf species would allow for a greater variety of coat texture and coloring. With the possibility that the Dire Wolf migrated north from South America, this prehistoric mammal could have possessed more of the reverse colored look of the South American Maned Wolf. The legs of the Dire Wolf would then have been darker than the body, which would have had a more subtle banded coloration. On the other hand, if the Dire Wolf traveled along the Bering Land Bridge as did the Gray Wolf afterwards, then the Dire Wolf could have more closely resembled the Gray Wolf in color.

The difference in size between male and female Dire Wolf bone and teeth structure was minimal with little dimorphism. This means that the female Dire Wolf did not have specifically feminine traits and both male and female Dire Wolf's had similar teeth size and bone structure. In modern animals, the amount of sexual dimorphism correlates with that animal's breeding system. When a male's canine teeth are much larger, males compete strongly for females and the system may be polygamous and one male may then breed with several females as the dominant figure in the pack. When both sexes have similar canine teeth, as is the case with the Dire Wolf, there is less competition between males and a more pair-bonded breeding system. This leads researchers to believe that the Dire Wolf pack was monogamous in structure with one male typically mating with one female.

Dire Wolves primarily ate wild horses and bison with an occasional feast on mastodon and giant ground sloths. It did not eat smaller animals, which may have been a factor in its ultimate extinction. Dire Wolves may have regularly hunted in packs of 30 or more. This is sometimes seen in Gray Wolves today, but it is much more rare. The Dire Wolf's rear teeth were adapted for tearing, not chewing. This suggests that the Dire Wolf did not chew their meal, but tore off large chunks of flesh and swallowed it whole.

The Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) is the largest wild canid, usually weighing between 70 and 150 lbs. With a length of 4 ½ to 6 ½ feet and a shoulder height of 26 to 38 inches, it is built for stamina with broad shoulders, a narrow chest and powerful back legs. Females are generally up to 20% smaller than their male counterparts. They vary in coloration greatly: predominantly gray to brown but can include various shades of white, red, and black. Elderly wolves have a hint of gray to their fur. Gray wolves have slanted eyes, varying from yellow to deep amber in color. To allow for swift and efficient movement through snow, brush and other conditions, Gray Wolves have narrow chests, with elbows set close together. A Gray Wolf has a bush tail, straight and it usually hangs to its knees. Gray Wolves have noticeably larger heads than other canids, which is often attributed to their high level of intelligence. Their large paws, which are webbed with fur, aid in movement across mud and snow. Being very social animals, Gray Wolves live, travel, and hunt in packs of typically 2 to 15 animals, though there have been reports of up to 38 wolves in one pack. Gray Wolves are opportunistic predators, which mean they hunt large and small game, but will also feed off of carrion. Because of the Gray Wolf's large pack size and intricate social hierarchy, they can work together to bring down large game such as deer, elk, bison and moose. Nearly all the different names you hear for wolves--timber, arctic, Mexican gray, buffalo, plains, Canadian, tundra, and so on--are either nick-names or subspecies of the Gray Wolf. There are 39 recognized subspecies on six continents.

The Red Wolf (Canis lupus rufus) was not originally considered a subspecies of the Gray Wolf and is the only surviving wolf that evolved in North America. It was identified in 1851 by naturalists John Audubon and John Bachman as a species distinct from the Gray Wolf. However, there was a dispute between biologists over whether the Red Wolf is a true species or a hybrid caused by the interbreeding of coyotes and gray wolves. The Red Wolf was classified in 2005 as the Gray Wolf subspecies Canis lupus rufus. They were once present throughout the southeastern United States from the Atlantic Coast to central Texas, and from the Gulf Coast to central Missouri and southern Illinois. It may have occurred as far north as Maine. The Red Wolf's territory could vary from 25 to 50 square miles. Any land which provides adequate food, water, and heavy vegetation would provide viable habitat for red them. They are smaller than Gray Wolves, fox-like in appearance, with a more slender and elongated head and shorter coarser fur. In comparison to the coyote, they are larger and more robust with longer legs and larger ears. The Red Wolf measurements range from 15 to 16 inches at shoulder height, 55 to 65 inches in length, and they weigh anywhere from 40 to 90 pounds. Its colour is usually brownish red with gray and black shading in the back and tail with a white furred muzzle around the lips. Light markings above the eyes are common and it has large ears in comparison to other canids. Its tail is long, bushy, and black tipped.

The Red Wolf hunts mainly at dusk and/or dawn. They feed mostly on small to medium animals such as grouse, raccoons, rabbits, hares, rodents, carrion, domestic livestock, young white-tailed deer when available, and they supplement their diet with insects and berries. Other than prairie chickens, the red wolf very seldom feeds on birds. They prefer to hunt alone or in small family groups. Pack sizes are smaller than those of their gray cousins, consisting often of one adult pair and their offspring. As in other canids pair-bonding is strong and Red Wolves mate for life. They mate yearly and two or three cubs are usually born in the spring. Both parents help raise the offspring who are mature enough to leave behind parental support. Mating season occurs in February and March, and gestation lasts about 60 days. In April or May, an average of 3 to 6 cubs are born. They usually remain with pack for 15 to 20 months and reach sexual maturity at about 22 months. Both the mother and father usually mate for life and both participate in rearing their offspring. The direct family is usually what makes up the pack. Their dens are formed around dense vegetation, a river bank, in a hollow tree stump, or an abandoned den of some other creature. Between 1900 and 1920, Red Wolves were annihilated from most of the eastern portion of their range by predator control programs using poison, along with heavy hunting and trapping. By 1980, the Red Wolf that once inhabited almost all of the southeastern United States was declared extinct in the wild. 40 Red Wolves were captured in the late 1970's and of those, 14 were found to be genetically pure and were used for captive breeding. Since 1987, hundreds of Red Wolves were reintroduced to the wild. However, they are still seen as unwanted intruders by some people and are hunted down. In addition, the threat of hybridization with the Coyote still exists. In May 2011, an analysis of Red Wolf revealed that it was 76 to 80 percent coyote and only 20 to 24 percent Gray Wolf, suggesting that the Red Wolf is actually much more coyote in origin than the Eastern wolf. If the Red Wolf is considered as a full species, three subspecies of the Red Wolf originally recognized by biologist Edward A. Goldman once existed. Two of these subspecies are extinct. Canis rufus floridanus, once found from Maine to Florida, has been extinct since 1930 and Canis rufus gregoryi, inhabiting the south-central United States, was declared extinct in the wild by 1980. Canis rufus rufus, the third surviving subspecies, was also extinct in the wild by 1980, although that status was changed to "critically endangered" when captive-bred Red Wolves wolves were reintroduced in eastern North Carolina in 1987. The current status of this wolf in North Carolina is “endangered” with population numbers around 100 animals. The Red Wolf is the rarest and most endangered of all wolves. Only about 270 wolves remain. Red Wolves are shy and wary creatures. Pure Red Wolves are thought to be extinct in the wild. Three problems threaten the future of the Red Wolf: the loss of habitat, the hunting of wolves, and Red Wolves mating with coyotes. The expansion of agriculture, logging and human settlement cleared the forest home of Red Wolves. Between 1900 – 1920 Red Wolves were hunted because they preyed on cattle. As the population of Red Wolves declined, coyotes expanded into its territory.

Today the Red Wolf population is under 300 captive animals in zoos and captive breeding facilities. Red Wolves have been reintroduced at the alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Red Wolf is the most endangered wolf in the world. The Red Wolf was listed as endangered in 1967 under the provisions of the Endangered Species Preservation Act. The US Fish and Wildlife Service captured the remaining 17 Red Wolves and brought them into captivity, and began a captive breeding program with the hope of one day returning them to the wild. In 1987 four pair of captive born Red Wolves were released into Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern North Carolina. In 1988, the first wild Red Wolf litter was born at Alligator River. Since 1987 the Red Wolf recovery area has expanded and now comprises about 1.5 million acres throughout five counties, including three national wildlife refuges, a Department of Defense bombing range, other public and private lands. Currently there are approximately 160 Red Wolves live in 37 captive breeding facilities around the country and about 4 Red Wolves reside at two island propagation sites. Approximately 100 Red Wolves live in the wild in northeastern North Carolina and all but two have been born in the wild. Over 50 of those animals wear radio-tracking collars. At least 281 cubs have been born in the wild over four generations since the program’s inception in 1987.

The Texas Red Wolf (Canis rufus rufus) was a type of Red Wolf that lived in Texas. Because the Red Wolf is no longer considered a separate species but a subspecies of the Gray Wolf, the Texas Red Wolf was the same. The coat ranged from cinnamon red, gray to black. It was slightly smaller than the Gray Wolf, larger than a coyote, and weighed 40 to 80 pounds. The Red Wolf’s legs as well as ears were longer than the coyote’s. It crossbred with coyotes and domestic dogs, and they roamed in smaller packs than Gray wolves. Usually the Red Wolf pack consisted of an adult pair and their young offspring. Adults mated between February and March of every year. Two to three pups were born during April or May. Both males and females helped raise their young. When the young were about 6 months old they were mature enough to leave home. Canis rufus rufus was declared extinct by 1970.

The Florida Black Wolf (Canis rufus floridanus) was a subspecies of the Red Wolf, which now means it was a subspecies of the Gray Wolf. It was smaller than the Gray Wolf, but it was bigger and stronger than the Red Wolf, which was far more related to the species. It was all black and lived in the forests and swamps throughout Florida, Tennessee and southern Georgia. Its length was 150 cm, and its snout was wider and longer than the Gray Wolf. Much like the Red Wolf, a native of mostly Texas, the Black Wolf was classified as a subspecies in its own right for its particular coloration. Currently it is believed that the Florida Black Wolf along with the Texas Red Wolf and the Red Wolf of the Mississippi are not related to any known species. In the 19th century it was still quite common in Alabama, where it wandered in the mountains in small packs. But in 1894 it was eradicated from large swamps near Baldwin and Mobile . The last Florida Peninsula Black Wolf was killed in 1908. Around 1910 to 1920 the Florida Black Wolf was still holding out in mountainous and barren areas, and to not starve to death it attacked cattle several times. Hunting, trapping and poisoning made it extinct. In 1917 in Colbert County the last Florida Black Wolf, which was actually a hybrid wolf, was supposedly killed. Officially, Canis rufus floridanus has been extinct since 1930.

The Falkland Islands Wolf (Canis antarcticus) is the first known canid species to have gone extinct in historical times. It was first discovered by Charles Darwin when he visited the Falkland Islands in 1833. Darwin was captivated by the wolves' bold nature, curiously running up to him as he stepped on the beach. Four of the small wolves were brought back to London by Darwin for study but they only survived a few years. The tawny colored wolves with white-tipped tails were the only land mammal native to the Falkland Islands. Darwin wanted to learn if they were related to the canids he had observed on the South American mainland and how they had gotten so far out to sea. While Darwin continued his work back in England, settlers on the Falkland Islands considered the wolves a threat to their sheep. They waged a massive campaign to destroy the Falkland Island wolves. The wolves were poisoned and shot on a massive scale. Because the wolves were not afraid of the people, trappers regularly lured wild wolves up to them by holding meat in one hand. Then while the wolf was eating the trapper would kill it with a knife held in the other hand. The settlers were successful in their quest – the Falkland Islands wolf was extinct by 1876.

The Eurasian Wolf (Canis lupus lupus) also known as the European, Common, or Forest Wolf is a large subspecies of the Gray Wolf which has the largest range among wolf subspecies and is the most common in Europe and Asia. It ranges through Mongolia, China, Russia, Scandinavia, Western Europe and the Himalayan Mountains. Compared to their North American cousins, Eurasian wolves tend to have longer, more highly placed ears, narrower heads, more slender loins and coarser, and fur ranges from white, red, gray and black and sometimes combined colourings. The pelt is usually a mix of rusty ocherous and light gray. It is 105 to 160 cm in length, weighs 40 to 80 kg., and is up to 30 inches tall at the shoulders. Compared to Indian Wolves, Eurasian Wolves are larger and have longer, broader skulls. In Europe, wolves rarely form large packs like in North America, as their lives are more strongly influenced by human activities. Because of this, Eurasian wolves tend to be more adaptable than North American wolves in the face of human expansion.

The Tundra Wolf (Canis lupus albus) is one of the largest subspecies of the Gray wolf with adults measuring 112 to 137 cm long, and weighing 45 to 57 kg. The fur is very long, dense, fluffy and soft and is usually very light and gray in colour, with mixes of black, red and silver. The lower fur is lead-gray and the upper fur is reddish-gray. Its fur and size are so similar to that of large Canadian wolves that their pelts are often sold together. This wolf inhabits the Northern tundra and forest zones in the European and Asian parts of Russia and Kamchatka. Outside Russia, its range includes the extreme north of Scandinavia. The Tundra Wolf usually makes its den in river valleys and thickets in dry plateaus, and tends to form packs of 5 to 7 members. It feeds primarily on wild and domestic reindeer and snow sheep in their eastern range, and also preys on hares and arctic foxes. It rarely forms permanent territories, traveling 200 to 300 km annually to accompany reindeer migrations. Reindeer losses to tundra wolves can be considerable for the Nenets people, who rely on them for subsistence. In the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, 1708 reindeer were killed by tundra wolves in 1951, and 7048. Between 1944-1954, Tundra Wolves killed 75,000 reindeer.

The Arabian Wolf (Canis lupus Arabs) is a small desert adapted wolf that is around 66 cm tall and weighs about 18 kg. Its fur coat varies from short in the summer and long in the winter, possibly because of solar radiation. Their ears are larger in relation to body size when compared to other species, an adaptation needed to disperse body heat. Arabian Wolves do not live in large packs. Instead they hunt in pairs or in groups of about three to four animals. This subspecies is unusual, as it is not known to howl. Arabian Wolves have short, thin fur in summer, though the hair on their back remains long even in summer. It is thought that this is an adaptation against solar radiation. The winter coat is long, though not as long as northern subspecies. Arabian Wolves are unique among gray wolves due to the middle two toes of their paws being fused, a trait originally thought unique to the African Wild Dog. It is distinguished from the Indian Wolf by its paler fur, smaller size and smaller head. Arabian Wolves will attack and eat any domestic animal up to the size of a goat. Therefore, farmers will not hesitate to shoot, poison, or trap them. They also feed on hares, rodents, ungulates, Dorcas Gazelles, ibexes, and carrion and livestock when in the vicinity of human settlements. It inhabits Southern Israel, Southern and western Iraq, Oman, Yemen, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and probably some parts of the Sinai Peninsula.

The Kenai Peninsula Wolf (Canis lupus alces), also known as the Kenai Peninsula Gray Wolf, was a sub-species of the Gray Wolf that lived on a peninsula in southern Alaska known as Kenai Peninsula. This extinct subspecies is said to have been around 7 feet (210 cm) long, measuring up to 44 inches (110 cm) tall, and weighing around 200 pounds (90 kg), a size that benefited the species in its hunt for the extremely large moose that roamed the peninsula. The species was classified in 1944 as one of the four subspecies in Alaska by Edward Goldman. While there is a current wolf population on the peninsula, the lack of genetic similarity to the original species has resulted in a classification of extinction for the original Kenai Peninsula wolf sub-species. By 1920 the wolf population of the peninsula had been almost completely eradicated through hunting and poisoning by strychnine. One of the largest North American wolves, it was extinct by 1925.

The Arctic Wolf (Canis lupus arctos), also called Polar Wolf or White Wolf, is a subspecies of the Gray Wolf. Arctic Wolves inhabit Alaska, the northern parts of Greenland, and the Canadian Arctic from Melville Island to Ellesmere Island. It's a medium sized wolf that is between 64 and 79 cm tall and 89 to 189 cm long, weighing between 35 and 45 kg on average, though there have been specimens found weighing up to 68 kg. The length is from 3 to 6 feet. Fur colour is predominately white, with shorter legs, and smaller ears and muzzles than their gray cousins. They rarely encounter humans. The Arctic Wolf is the only subspecies of wolf which is not threatened – their remote habitat means that they are relatively safe from humans regarding hunting and habitat destruction. They usually travel in packs of 2 to 20 and live in small family groups. A pack consists of a breeding pair (Alpha male and female) and their cubs. The pack works together to feed and care for their cubs. Lone Arctic Wolves are young males that have left their pack to seek their own territories. They avoid other wolves, unless they are able to mate. Having found an abandoned territory, a lone Arctic Wolf will claim it by marking the territory with its scent, then gather other lone wolves into its pack. When the female is pregnant, she leaves the pack to dig a den to raise her cubs. If the ice is too thick, she will move to a den or cave. Like all wolves, Arctic Wolves hunt in packs, preying mainly on caribou and muskoxen, but also arctic hares, seals, ptarmigan and lemmings, and smaller animals such as waterfowl. To eat rodents they must pick up their scent and find the entrance to their tiny dens to flush them out. Wolves almost never attack humans. Due to the scarcity of prey, they roam very large areas and follow migrating caribou south during the winter for food. They are not fast runners and rely on stamina to take down prey. Adult wolves have 42 teeth, their main weapon in hunting. They swallow food in large chunks, barely chewing it. They eat all of their prey, including the bones. Wolves can eat up to 20 pounds (9 kg) of meat at one meal. When they return from the hunt, wolves regurgitate some of the food for the hungry cubs. Some Arctic wolves are given other names such as the Mulville Island Wolf.

The Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) is the smallest subspecies of the Gray Wolf residing in the Americas. It weighs 25 to 45 kg, measures 140 to 170 cm in total length, and 72 to 80 cm in shoulder height. In stature, it resembles some European wolves, though its head is usually broader, its neck thicker, its ears longer and its tail shorter. It is native to North America where it is the rarest and most genetically distinct subspecies. The pelt contains a mix of gray, black, brown, and rust colors in a characteristic pattern, with white underparts. Until recently, the Mexican Wolf ranged the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts from central Mexico to western Texas, southern New Mexico, and central Arizona. By the turn of the 20th century, reduction of natural prey like deer and elk caused many wolves to begin attacking domestic livestock, which led to intensive efforts by government agencies and individuals to eradicate the Mexican Wolf. Hunters also hunted down the wolf because it killed deer. Trappers and private trappers have also helped in the eradication of the Mexican Wolf. These efforts were very successful, and by the 1950s, the Mexican Wolf had been eliminated from the wild. The last wild Mexican wolf was seen in the United States in 1970 and in Mexico in 1980. In 1976 the Mexican Wolf was declared an endangered subspecies and has remained so ever since. In 1982 the Fish and Wildlife Service developed a recovery plan for the species. Captive Mexican wolves were released into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in 1998. Like wolf reintroductions elsewhere, this program divided local people, and there have been many battles over it in the courts. Today, an estimated 340 Mexican Wolves survive in 49 facilities in the United States and Mexico.

The Great Plains Wolf (Canis lupus nubilus) or Buffalo Wolf is the most common subspecies of the Gray Wolf in the continental USA. It currently inhabits the western Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada. A typical Great Plains wolf is between 4½ and 6½ feet long, weighs from 60 to 110 pounds, and is usually light in color, but may be gray, black or buff with reddish coloring. Like all wolves, the Great Plains Wolf is a very social animal that communicates using body language, scent marking and vocalization with an average pack size of five to six wolves. The territory size for the Great Plains Wolf depends on the type and density of prey. Typical prey for the Great Plains Wolf consists of white-tailed deer, moose, beaver, snowshoe hare, and smaller birds and mammals. The historic range of the Great Plains Wolf was throughout the United States and the southern regions of Canada. By the 1930s, Great Plains Wolves were almost eliminated completely in much of the western United States. It was thought to be extinct by 1926. In Wisconsin and Michigan the Great Plains Wolf was eradicated by the mid 1960's. Only a small group of wolves survived in northeastern Minnesota along the Ontario border. In 1974, the Great Plains Wolf in the Great Lakes region became fully protected as an endangered species. By 1978, Minnesota's wolf population had increased enough that the wolf was reclassified as threatened in Minnesota. The Great Plains Wolf is found in the Eastern distinct population segment (DPS) categorized under the Endangered Species Act which is now awaiting new legislation to completely remove it from the endangered species list. The estimated population for Great Plains Wolves for 2004 in the United States was over 3,700 wolves.

The Newfoundland Wolf (Canis lupus beothucus) was a subspecies of the Gray Wolf which inhabited the island of Newfoundland off the east coast of Canada. This wolf was a large almost pure white animal with a black stripe down its spine, measuring 180 cm in length and weighing 45 kg. On September 14, 1839, the government proclaimed a wolf bounty of five pounds. Hunting, trapping and vigorous predator control methods quickly reduced the wolf population of Newfoundland. This combined with a caribou population decline caused the wolf's extinction. By 1911 the last wild wolf was shot, although the official extinction is dated 1930. This subspecies was not described until after its extinction. Appropriately, its scientific name means "Beothuk Wolf", after the Native American inhabitants of Newfoundland (the Beothuk) who are also extinct.

Bernard's Wolf (Canis lupus bernardi), also known as the Banks Island Tundra Wolf and the Banks Island Wolf was a subspecies of the Gray Wolf that was limited to the Banks and Victoria islands of the Canadian arctic. It was described as white with black-tipped hair along the ridge of its back, and was discovered, classified, and named after hunter and explorer Peter Bernard and his nephew Joseph F. Bernard. They were large wolves, standing up to 4 feet tall and 6 feet long and weighed from 60 to 110 pounds. This subspecies became extinct sometime between 1918 and 1952, supposedly in 1934, from excessive hunting. It was not until 1943 that zoologist Rudolph Martin Anderson identified the Bernard's Wolf and it was recognized as a subspecies. Only three or four specimens were ever found.

The Steppe Wolf (Canis lupus campestris) is a subspecies of the Gray Wolf native to the steppe regions of the Caucasus, Northern Ukraine, the lower Volga region, southern Kazakhstan north to the middle of the Emba, the northern pri-Urals, and the steppe regions of the lower European part of the former Soviet Union. It may also occur in northern Afghanistan and Iran and occasionally the steppe regions of Romania and Hungary. It is average in size, weighing 35 to 40 kg (77 to 88 lbs) and somewhat smaller than the Eurasian wolf and its fur is short, sparse, and coarse. The fur is light gray on the sides and rusty brownish gray on the back with some black hairs. The guard hairs on the withers usually does not exceed 70 to 75 mm. The fur of Steppe Wolves in the Middle Asia and Kazakhstan tends to have more reddish tones. The tail is poorly furred.

The Iranian Wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) was identified as a Gray Wolf subspecies 1931 by ornithologist William Henry Sykes. Because of their overlapping habitat and physical similarities, the Iranian Wolf and Indian Wolf were once thought to be the same. Their habitat varies from desert regions to forests. They can be found in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, especially Northern Israel, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Turkey Pakistan, and Iran. Like the Indian Wolf, Iranian Wolves are smaller than wolves of Northern Europe and North America. They vary from 25 to 40 inches in height, and weigh from 55 to 70 pounds. Because of the drier and harsher climate, their fur is a short light-gray with either little or no undercoat, and they have large ears to disperse body heat. Iranian wolves form packs of 5 to 15, but in harsher climates may hunt in pairs or even individually. They feed on a number of small mammals such as rats, squirrels, mongooses, and ground birds such as partridges, quails, jungle fowl, and lapwings. Mating occurs during winter and only the dominant pair mates. The mother usually gives birth to 3 to 5 cubs. Both the male and female look after cubs until they are 6 months old. Iranian Wolves are forced to share their habitat and prey with an encroaching human population. They are viewed as a threat by many people. Just like the Arabian Wolf, the Iranian Wolf is threatened by interbreeding with domestic dogs. Its life span is from 16 to 20 years in captivity, and 8 to 15 years in the wild.

The Indian Wolf (Canis indica) was originally thought to be the same Gray Wolf subspecies as the Iranian Wolf (Canis lupus pallipes). But the Indian Wolf has recently been designated as a separate and distinct species. Recent DNA analysis shows that the Indian wolf’s ancestors were isolated on the Indian subcontinent over 800,000 years ago, and then split to form the modern Indian Wolf and Himalayan Wolf some 400,000 years ago. Though the Indian Wolf’s range overlaps greatly with its closest relative, the Himalayan Wolf, almost no interbreeding has occurred because of behavioral differences. The Indian Wolf is one of the world’s smallest wolves, measuring only 24 to 38 inches in height and weighing 40 to 60 pounds. They are almost always reddish, tawny, or buff in color, with long legs and narrow muzzles, and have a shorter and thinner coat than northern wolves. It is only found in the Indian states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. With 2,000 to 3,000 remaining in the wild, they are protected as an endangered species. However, they are still commonly hunted and poisoned by locals because of attacks on livestock. These attacks are far more common in Indian wolves than in other wolf species because nearly all of their large native prey was hunted to extinction by humans..

The Himalayan Wolf (Canis himalayensis) is a small, light-colored wolf native to Northern India, Kashmir and Eastern Nepal. They inhabit an area of 70,000 km in the trans-Himalayan region of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir in northern India, and are adapted to the cold environment. Once thought to be a subspecies of the Tibetan Wolf (Canis lupus chanco), DNA analysis suggests that they should instead be classified as a distinct species. It is the most ancient wolf ever recorded. Himalayan and Indian wolves are the oldest wolf species in the world, having been isolated on the Indian subcontinent for over 800,000 years. They are so distinct that they do not share any genetic markers with Gray Wolves or domestic dogs. Its features, social and reproductive behavior make it resemble the Tibetan wolf (Canis lupus chanco), a subspecies of the Gray Wolf. Indian Wolves do not form large packs like northern wolves. Packs typically consist of a nuclear family of six to eight animals, though pairs are more common, which makes their social structure more similar to that of dingoes and coyotes.

The Tibetan Wolf (Canis lupus chanco), also known as the Woolly Wolf or the Tibetanischer Wolf, is a small subspecies rarely exceeding 45 kg in weight. It is of a light, whitish-gray colour, with an mixture of brownish tones on the upper part of the body. Physically the Tibetan wolf resembles the Eurasian wolf, but has shorter legs. Its habitat is Central Asia from Turkestan, Tien Shan throughout Tibet to Mongolia, northern China, Shensi, Sichuan, Yunnan, and the western Himalayas in Kashmir from Chitral to Lahul. They also occur in the Korean peninsula. Tibetan Wolves do not form large packs, and typically travel in pairs or threes. They feed largely on hares throughout the year, marmots in summer, and large numbers of goat and sheep in winter. The Tibetan Wolf is thought by some scientists to be the most likely ancestor of the domestic dog because of its small size and mandible morphology, noting that the uppermost part of the lower jaw is turned back on both the Tibetan wolf and the dog, though not so in other Gray Wolf subspecies.

The Tibetan Wolf (Canis lupus laniger) is the second species with the name Tibetan Wollf. It's an attractive subspecies of Gray Wolf that lives in some regions of central China, Southwest Russia, Manchuria, Tibet and the Himalayan regions of India, Nepal and Bhutan. The Tibetan Wolf is a medium-sized or large animal with long shaggy brown to grayish and black colored fur, and a forehead and tip of the tail with black accents. There are some bright color versions. It lives in cold deserts or mountains. In some areas it occurs in large packs wandering. Despite its large range, the largest areas are the mountains of Central Asia and the Himalayas. The Tibetan Wolf is migratory and prefers dry, open country, and in cold deserts or mountains.

The Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis), also known as the Abyssinian Wolf or Simien Jackal is Ethiopia’s national symbol found only in a few mountainous pockets of Ethiopia. There are two subspecies and this one inhabits the area north west of the Rift valley. Its nasal bones are shorter than those of the southern Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis citernii). They often resemble a coyote in shape and size, with long legs and a long muzzle, a reddish coat with white throat, chest and underbelly markings. Females tend to have paler coats. Ethiopian Wolves are thinner than northern wolves, weighing only 24 to 42 pounds. Their front feet have five toes, but the rear feet have only four. Some scientists do not believe it is a true wolf. But recent analysis of Ethiopian Wolf DNA shows that they diverged to become a separate species 3 to 4 million years ago and they are more closely related to Gray Wolves and coyotes than to other African canines. It's a a medium sized canid, with overall stature similar to the coyote. The fur is a rusty red above and ginger or white below, it has white markings on its face, and ears are pointed and broad. They typically hunt by day, switching to nighttime activity only in areas where they are harassed by humans. 90% of the Ethiopian Wolf’s diet is made up of small rodents and they very rarely prey on livestock. They live in patrilineal packs (males do not leave their natal pack, whereas females disperse at an early age), but hunt alone. Most packs are made up of numerous related males and 1 or 2 unrelated females. Even so, females most often mate with males outside of their adopted pack. Breeding season usually occurs between August and November. Its life span in the wild is about 8 to 10 years. Among wolves its rarity is second only to the Red Wolf. With fewer than 450 to 550 wild animals left, this unique species is considered the most critically endangered species in Africa. Through protected from hunting and persecution across its range, the Ethiopian Wolf still faces very serious threats from rabies spread from local dogs and habitat loss.

The Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis citernii) is the second recognized subspecies of the Gray Wolf found in Ethiopia. This one inhabits the area south east of the Rift valley. Its coat is redder than that of the northern Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis simensis).

The British Columbia Wolf (Canis lupus columbianus) was one of the larger subspecies of the Gray Wolf that ranged from the Yukon to British Columbia and Alberta. They weighed between 80 to 150 pounds, had long coats which were usually black, often mixed with gray or brown, and measured 60 to 70 inches in length. It had similarities to both the Alaskan Interior Wolf and the Mackenzie Valley Wolf, although it was usually smaller than both. The British Columbian Wolf fed on hares, birds, deer and other ungulates. It crossed territories with the Alexander Archipelago Wolf and the Cascade Mountain Wolf, and was classified as a subspecies in 1941 by biologist Edward Goldman. By 1941 it had become hunted to extinction.

The Vancouver Island Wolf (Canis lupus crassodon) is a medium sized subspecies that it is generally grayish-white or white in fur color. Occasionally they are pure white. This wolf is roughly 26 to 32 inches high, 4 to 5 feet long, and weighs 65 to 90 pounds. Its original habitat extended from the Northern Rocky Mountains to Southern Alberta in Canada. The wolf's main food sources are the Columbian black-tailed deer and the Roosevelt elk. Breeding season for this wolf comes in January. It is a very social animal and can usually be found roaming in packs of five to thirty-five individuals. The Vancouver Island wolf disappeared from some surrounding islands like Salt Spring Island in the 1800's. In 1970, they were added to the Canadian Wildlife Federation's "Endangered Wildlife in Canada" list. By 1973 Vancouver Island's wolf sighting program started with a count of 37 wolves, and in 1976 Vancouver Island Wolf populations had seemed to rebound with a count of 88 wolves. In 1977 they were removed from the provincial Threatened and Endangered Species list. It was identified as a Gray Wolf subspecies by zoologist E. Raymond Hall in 1932.

The Dingo (Canis lupus dingo) is a wild dog unique to the continent of Australia, mainly found in the outback. It's also called a Warrigal or simply "wild dog" and its original ancestors are thought to have arrived with humans from southeast Asia thousands of years ago when dogs were still relatively undomesticated. They are 52 to 60 cm tall at the shoulders and 117 to 124 cm long. The average weight is 13 to 20 kg., and fur color is mostly sandy to reddish brown, but can include tan patterns and be occasionally black, light brown, or white. It has intense eyes that vary in color from yellow to orange. The very mobile, small, rounded ears are naturally erect. They are Australia's largest predator. The Dingo may hunt alone or in family units, but rarely in packs. Because of their attacks on livestock, dingoes and other wild dogs are seen as pests by the sheep industry and the resultant control methods normally run counter to dingo conservation efforts. It's a breed that has never been fully domesticated, but is sometimes kept as a companion. Puppies cost from $500 -$1000 Australian dollars. Unlike other dogs, the Dingo chooses a mate for life, sometimes mourning itself to death after the loss of its partner. Otherwise they can live to be over 20 years of age. Like the wolf, the female Dingo has only one breeding cycle each year. Often a litter of pups is found in the hollow of a tree, totally protected from all sides with the dam (mother) guarding the front. Even so, pups frequently fall prey to snakes. The Federal Government classifies the Dingo as wildlife and it may not be exported except from and to registered and approved wildlife parks and zoos. Dingoes are very rare outside Australia, but exist in Thailand, India, Indonesia and New Guinea.

The Dog (Canis lupus familiaris) is a domesticated subspecies of the Gray Wolf. The term is used for both pet and feral varieties. The dog may have been the first animal to be domesticated, and has been the most widely kept working, hunting, and companion animal in human history. Through selective breeding by humans, the dog has mutated into hundreds of varied breeds, and shows more behavioral and physical variation than any other land mammal. There is everything from the tiny Chihuahua to the giant Great Dane. It's basically a mutant wolf that humans have bred into hundreds of bizarre breeds. It has the personality and behavior of an adolescent wolf. 

As one of the most successful species on the planet, there are over 400,000,000 dogs in the world today, compared to less than 200,000 wolves. Dogs were domesticated from wolves about 12,000 to 15,000 years ago, probably in China. The earliest dog fossils were two large skulls from Russia and a mandible from Germany dated from roughly 14,000 years ago, and the oldest remains of a domesticated dog in the Americas were found in Texas and have been dated to about 9,400 years ago. Studies on the DNA of dogs and Eurasian wolves confirmed that wolves are the exclusive ancestral species to dogs. Dogs can be consistently distinguished from the wolf by their skulls: shortened muzzles, broader palates, crowded teeth and the broad, heavy frontal shields at the top of their skulls. Generally they have a 20% smaller skull and a 30% smaller brain, as well as proportionately smaller teeth than other wolf subspecies. The paws of a dog are half the size of those of a wolf, and their tails tend to curl upwards, another trait not found in wolves. The wolf has a straight "brush" tail and the dog has a "sickle" tail. The sickle tail is the single physical characteristic that separates dogs from wolves. 
Wolves and dogs generally do not voluntarily interbreed in the wild. Most wolf and dog matings in the wild involve female wolves soliciting male dogs. However, the captive breeding of wolves and dogs in the USA has resulted in 300,000 hybrid wolves. Wolves kill dogs occasionally, with some wolf populations relying on dogs as an important food source. The wolves generally outmatch dogs in fights because of their larger heads, bigger teeth, stronger bites, and superior fighting styles.

The African Wolf (Canis aureus) is a "new" wolf because until recently it was called the Egyptian Jackal or Golden Jackal. It was a wolf in all but name, but new genetic research finds that it is a member of the Gray Wolf family and is most closely related to the Himalayan Wolf and Indian Wolf. Its DNA is also quite close to wolves found 2,500 kilometres away in the highlands of Ethiopia. The Ancient Egyptians clearly identified it as a wolf. However, some DNA research has caused some scientists and zoologists to consider the Egyptian Jackal as a variation of the Golden Jackal. Scientists should make up their minds because it's too confusing for us. They resemble lanky coyotes in appearance but are smaller and lighter, and their vocalizations are very similar to domestic dogs. Their weight is only 15 to 33 pounds and the coat length and color varies with their habitat, but it is generally some shade of reddish-gray. It was once found all over Egypt, Libya as well as the entire Arabian Peninsula but the population has significantly decreased due to over hunting which has reduced the Egyptian Jackal into an endangered species. Currently their huge range spreads across Northern Africa, Southeastern Europe, Western and Southern Asia, and across the Middle East. In Russia they are commercially hunted and trapped for their fur, to be used in ladies' hats and coats. They usually feed on small mammals, but have been known to scavenge off larger carcasses. In India they have been known to form symbiotic relationships with wild tigers. The golden jackal follows the tiger at a distance and waits to clean up the scraps after a kill. The jackals are also known for scouting out large prey and alerting tigers to the opportunity. The Saharan Wolf is considered to be a subspecies of this ancient animal. Although the animal has now made it to the endangered species list because of over-hunting, there are no laws that restrict the hunting of this animal in Egypt.

The Florida Black Wolf (Canis lupus floridanus) is also known as the Florida Wolf and the Black Wolf. It was a subspecies of the Gray Wolf, though this has been contested in recent years, that lived in Florida. It was once thought of as a subspecies of the Red Wolf, which primarily lived in Texas, and that a variation in its coloring led to the creation of the Florida Black Wolf. It was described as being extremely similar to the Red Wolf in both size and weight. A red colored animal known as the Florida Red Wolf, once resided in Florida as well, though it became extinct in 1921. It was believed that both species, instead of being a subspecies of the Red Wolf, were actually a type of coyote. However, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature stated that the Florida Black Wolf, along with the Red Wolf and Gregory's Wolf were actually not related to any known species, or the relation cannot be proven. The Florida Black Wolf became extinct in 1908 due to crowding out of its habitat and hunting.

The Cascade Mountain Wolf (Canis lupus fuscus) also known as the Brown Wolf, was recognized as a Gray Wolf subspecies by Sir John Richardson in 1839. It was a medium sized cinnamon coloured wolf averaging 3 feet tall, 4 to 5 feet in length, and 80 to 90 pounds in weight. The "fuscus" in the wolf's Latin name refers to its greyish-brown coat which occasionally would have a touch of red and/or sprinkles of black. At one time it could be found along the Cascade Range in British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington, from Southwestern Canada down to Northern California. Because of government sponsored bounties and the hostility of settlers, it eventually became extinct by 1940.

Gregory's Wolf (Canis lupus gregoryi) also known as Gregor's Red Wolf, the Mississippi Valley Wolf, and the Texas Red Wolf was a subspecies of the Gray Wolf that roamed the regions in and around the lower Mississippi River basin. It is suspected to be the connecting species between the Red Wolf and the Florida Red Wolf. It was a medium sized subspecies, slender and tawny, its coat contained a mixture of various colors, including black, gray, white, along with a large amount of cinnamon coloring along the back of its body and the top of its head. It weighed around 60 to 70 lbs, on average. Canis rufus gregoryi was declared functionally extinct in the wild by 1980.

The Maned Wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) is the only existing species in the genus Chrysocyon and the only wolf found in South America. Their ancestors migrated from North America to South America over 2,000,000 years ago and evolved in isolation from other wolves. It is fox like in appearance like its cousin the Red Wolf. Today the Maned Wolf can be found in the grasslands of Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and Uruguay. Some do not consider it to be a "true wolf" and it looks like an overgrown reddish fox with extremely long legs and a prominent crest of hair across its shoulders. The mane is erectile and is used to enlarge the wolf's profile when threatened or displaying aggression. The Maned Wolf stands up to 3 feet in height and 4 feet in length. It very seldom weighs over 50 pounds, though it's long legs make it appear to be much heavier. By nature it lives in dry, shrubby forests, and grasslands with swampy regions that grow high, lush vegetation. This wolf's toes can also be splayed apart, allowing it to walk on marshy grounds. Although fruits make up about half of its diet, its favorite food is the wild guinea pig. It will eat rabbits, rodents, lizards, frogs, birds, fish, and snails. Occasionally it digs creatures out of their burrows. Mating season is between November to April. The female takes the lead by bowing in front of the male and rubbing against him while pounding her forepaws on the ground. She gives birth to two to six black-furred cubs in her den. They are fully grown in about a year, and usually mate after they are two years old. Captive Maned Wolves live between 12 to 15 years, but their lifespan in the wild is unknown. The Maned Wolf does not form packs. It hunts alone, usually between sundown and midnight, and kills its prey by biting on the neck or back, shaking it violently if necessary. They are rarely seen in the wild because of their shy nature, so much of their life history is still a mystery. Both male and female Maned Wolves use their urine to mark hunting paths and its distinctive odor has earned it the nickname "skunk wolf”. With 2,200 to 4,500 living in the wild, Maned Wolves are threatened by habitat destruction, domestic dog diseases and car collisions. Though Maned Wolf eyes are coveted as good luck charms in Brazil, the species is protected as near threatened throughout its range.

The Manitoba Wolf (Canis lupus griseoalbus) also known as the Grey-White Wolf, elusive wolf, the Saskatchewan timber wolf, and the grizzly wolf, is a subspecies of the Gray Wolf. They are believed by many to be the Hudson Bay Wolf. Although it was officially classified as a Gray Wolf subspecies by zoologist Spencer Baird in 1858, many experts never recognized it as a separate subspecies. Their main food source was caribou and they supposedly inhabited Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland, and the Northwest Territories of Canada. It was highly prized for its fur and was hunted to extinction in the wild in the early 20th century. However, specimens were kept and bred in captivity and re-introduced in 1995 in the area around Yellowstone National Park. This has led to a public outcry in the area and in Colorado, as the species is far larger than the timber wolf that is natural to the area and over-predation is a high concern.

The Hokkaidō Wolf (Canis lupus hattai) was also known as the Ezo Wolf, the Japanese Wolf or Ezoookami. It is an extinct Japanese wolf descended from large mainland Siberian wolves which colonized the Korean Peninsula and Japan before it separated from mainland Asia 20,000 years ago. Japanese wolves likely underwent a process of island dwarfism 7,000–13,000 years ago in response to climate and ecological changes. Canis lupus hattai was significantly larger than its southern cousin Canis lupus hodophilax, as it inhabited higher elevations and had access to larger prey, as well as a continuing genetic interaction with wolves from Siberia. They once inhabited the Japanese island of Hokkaido, Russia's island of Sakhalin and Kamchatka Peninsula, and the Kuril islands. Compared to the Honshu Wolf, the Hokkaidō Wolf resembled the Gray Wolf in size, dimensions, and other characteristics. They were usually a light gray or tan gray in color and fed mainly on deer, rabbits, and birds. It was classified as a subspecies of the Gray Wolf in 1931 by Japanese arachnologist Kyukichi Kishida. A large number of deer starved to death in 1878 because of a heavy snow and this had a great negative affect on the Hokkaidō Wolf. Also the wolves were deliberately poisoned with strychnine by farmers who viewed the wolf as a threat to their livestock. A bounty was placed on the wolf which officially became extinct in 1889. Since then there have been people claiming to see the Hokkaidō Wolf. But none of these sightings have been verified.

The Honshū Wolf (Canis lupus hodophilax), known in Japan as the Japanese Wolf or Hondo Wolf, was one of the two extinct subspecies of the Gray Wolf found on the islands of Japan. It occupied the islands of Honshū, Shikoku, and Kyūshū primarily in remote mountain areas. It was the world's smallest wolf, standing just over a foot at the shoulder and measuring 35 inches from nose to end of the tail. They had short wiry hair and a thin dog-like tail that was rounded at the end. Their legs were shorter in relation to their body length. In many ways, it resembled dogs, coyotes and jackals much more than its Siberian Wolf ancestors. It preyed on deer, wild boar, and smaller pests. Farmers praised the wolf for keeping down the number of animals that might otherwise damage their crops. The Honshu Wolf was identified in 1839 as a Gray Wolf subspecies by Dutch zoologist Coenraad Temminck. It was also known as the Hondo wolf, the yamainu, and the mountain dog. Honshu Wolves were abundant in Japan until 1732 when rabies was introduced to the island. Rabies, deforestation of the wolf's habitat, and conflict with humans led to its extinction. The last specimen was officially killed in 1905 in Nara Prefecture on Honshu Island. Although there have been many sightings claimed since then, none of them have been verified. There are currently eight known pelts and five stuffed specimens. Three stuffed wolves are in Japan, one in the Netherlands, and the last officially killed specimen is preserved in a British Museum.

The Hudson Bay Wolf (Canis lupus hudsonicus) is also known as the Hudson Wolf and sometimes called the Tundra Wolf. They are primarily found in the areas around Hudson Bay in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. Sometimes they migrate south in the winter with the caribou herds. It averages 3 to 5 feet long and 28 to 36 inches high. Their weight varies from 80 to 140 pounds. Females are slightly smaller than males. Fur is bushy and ranges from a light gray to a yellowish-white or cream color and lightens in the winter. Like most other wolves, they hunt in packs. They eat large ungulates such as caribou, moose and bison. When food is scarce, they will also feed on carrion and smaller animals. Supposedly they require about 10 pounds of meat per day. Usually only the Alpha pair mate in the spring. Gestation lasts 62 to 65 days. The average litter size is 4 to 6 cubs. For their first 10 days of life they are brown-colored, deaf, and blind, and do not leave their den until they are several weeks old. They are weaned when they are between 2 and 3 months old. All members of the pack participate in raising the young. They are mature at 2 years old. Their lifespan in the wild is about 10 years. The Hudson Bay Wolf was classified as the Gray Wolf subspecies in 1941 by biologist Edward A. Goldman. Although the status of the Hudson Bay Wolf has not been evaluated, it is considered by many to be endangered.

The Northern Rocky Mountains Wolf (Canis lupus irremotus) is a subspecies of the Gray Wolf that is primarily found in the northern portion of the Rocky Mountains and the states and Canadian provinces surrounding the region. This subspecies is light colored, medium to large in size, averaging from 85 to 115 pounds. The largest on record was 145 pounds, making it one of the largest subspecies of the Gray Wolf . It is lighter colored than the Southern Rocky Mountains Wolf, with a coat that includes far more white and less black. The Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf was classified as a Gray Wolf subspecies in 1937 by biologist Edward A. Goldman. It preys primarily on the Rocky Mountain Elk, the Rocky Mountain mule deer, and the North American Beaver, though it is an opportunistic animal and will prey upon other species if the chance arises. For the most part, small prey animals do not make up a large part of its diet. When an individual or a pack is able to take down numerous amounts of prey, the amount a Northern Rocky Mountains Wolf eats daily will generally make up about 10 to 21% of its body mass, though there have been recorded instances of an individual eating up to 37% of its body mass. However, when prey is not as plentiful, Northern Rocky Mountains wolves are able to survive for long periods of time eating only small amounts. Cannibalism in times of severe food shortage occurs, as a pack will kill and eat an injured or weak member of the group. Bison made up a large portion of its diet until the herds of bison were wiped out. When ranchers, farmers, and cattle drivers came west in the late 19th century, the Northern Rocky Mountains Wolf began preying on livestock. So they were deliberately driven to extinction. A practice of eradication was enacted in 1915 through the use of guns, traps, and poison. This policy was made worse with the creation of the National Park Service in 1916 which authorized the "destruction of such animals and such plant life that may be detrimental". By 1924, the last known wolves in Yellowstone were killed, though small numbers of the Northern Rocky Mountains Wolf survived in outlying areas. The subspecies was listed as Endangered on March 9, 1978, but had the classification removed in 2000 due to the effects of the Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Plan. This changed, and it was removed from the federal list of endangered species again in 2008. On August 6, 2010, the Northern Rocky Mountains Wolf was ordered to be returned under the Endangered Species Act protections in a decision overturning a previous ruling by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Southern Rocky Mountains Wolf (Canis lupus youngi), also known as the Southern Rockies Wolf, the Southern Rocky Mountains Grey Wolf, the Southern Rocky Mountains Common Wolf, and the Great Basin Gray Wolf, was a subspecies of the Gray Wolf that used to inhabit the regions in and around Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. Its primary range type included "coniferous forests, woodlands, and adjacent grasslands". They varied from medium to somewhat large, similar to the Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf. Adults were 4 to over 5 feet in length, averaging about 90 pounds, though they sometimes weighed up to 125 pounds. It is considered to have been the "second largest wolf in the United States". Their fur coloring tended to be black, with lighter areas on the edges of its fur and white in various small patches. It was classified as a Gray Wolf subspecies in 1937 by biologist Edward A. Goldman and was given the Latin name "Canis lupus youngi" in recognition of Stanley P. Young who worked for the U.S. Government overseeing the extermination of the wolf. The Southern Rocky Mountain Wolf officially became extinct in 1935 from excessive hunting, trapping, and poisoning.

The Labrador Wolf (Canis lupus labradorius) is a subspecies of the Gray Wolf which is primarily found in Labrador and northern Quebec. It weighs around 30 kg (66 lb), and the coat is a pale light gray, dark gray to nearly white, although it can also be a "dark grizzly grey". Similar but larger than the Eastern Wolf (Canis lupus lycaon) of southwest Quebec and the Great Lakes region, it preys primarily on white-tailed deer and caribou. There have been very few reports of Labrador wolf attacks on livestock, such as cattle or sheep. Because of over-hunting in the early 1900's, the frequency of the Labrador Wolf being spotted was considerably low until the 1950's. Around that time, the caribou population began to increase at a steady rate, which caused an increase in the wolf population – one of the largest herds of caribou in the world. However, the increase in number of the Labrador Wolf was not enough to offset the continuing increase of caribou in the region, causing a reconsideration of the predation limitation hypothesis. They also prey on moose, musk ox, hares, beaver, and other rodents and fish. The Labrador Wolf was identified as Gray Eolf subspecies by biologist Edward A. Goldman in 1937. Because of its elusiveness and the vast, rugged land it occupies, it is one of the least studied wolves in the world. Labrador Wolves are also rarely photographed in the wild. The subspecies is stable, though it is legally hunted in northern Canada for its pelt through a regulated system. Its status is Endangered.

The Eastern Timber Wolf (Canis lycaon), also known as the Eastern Wolf, Eastern Canadian Wolf or Eastern Canadian Red Wolf, may be a subspecies of Gray Wolf or a distinct species of canid native to the eastern part of North America. It is found mainly around the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence regions of southeast Ontario and southwest Quebec in remote, forested areas. Their greatest concentration is in Algonquin Park in Ontario. In 1775 it became the first Gray Wolf subspecies to be identified in North America. It seems to be closely related to the Red Wolf. Some populations have also contained instances of hybridization with Coyotes, known as coywolves. The Eastern Wolf is smaller than the Gray Wolf and has a gray-reddish coat with black hairs covering the back and sides of the thorax. Unlike the Gray Wolf, it has never been recorded with an all-black or all-white coat. The back and the sides are covered with long, black hairs. Behind the ears, there is a slight reddish color. DNA analysis confirms that the Eastern Timber Wolf belonged to an ancient form of primitive wolf (with Red Wolf) originating some 750,000 years ago in the eastern part of North America. They weigh anywhere from 50 to 100 lbs. The average adult male weighs 75 lbs. and the average adult female weighs 60 lbs. They measure 5 to 5 ½ feet in length and 25 to 36 inches in height. Gray wolves will attack, kill or drive out coyotes if they find them, but recent studies suggest that the Eastern Timber Wolf males mate and accept coyote females. It preys on white-tailed deer, moose, lagomorphs, and rodents including beaver, muskrat, and mice. Preying on American black bear has also been reported. Human activity is the greatest threat to the Eastern Timber Wolf. They came close to being extinct in the United States in the early 1900's. Today they survive in only 3 percent of their original habitat in the United States. The only state where they are not listed as endangered is Minnesota where they are listed as threatened. Only 150 to 170 Eastern Timber Wolves are left in the wild. Habitat loss, hunting and trapping are the main obstacles facing its survival. Even though Canada has declared them a species of special concern and is actively trying to protect them, they are regularly mistaken for coyotes or Gray Wolves and killed. As Algonquin Provincial Park is their last stronghold, Canada enacted a permanent ban on hunting any wolves or coyotes in the 30 townships surrounding the park in 2004. With so few animals left, they are wandering further and hybridizing with coyotes and Gray Wolves. With each generation the genetic purity of the Eastern Timber Wolf is disappearing.

The Alexander Archipelago Wolf (Canis lupus ligoni) was classified as a separate subspecies of the Gray Wolf in 1937 by Edward A. Goldman. Recent studies suggest that this subspecies may have evolved from the Great Plains Wolf. It first arrived in Alaska somewhere between 7,000 and 8,000 years ago, and today it is found in coastal southeast Alaska. A large portion of them reside within Alaska's Tongass National Forest.They can be found on the mainland from Dixon Entrance to Yakutat Bay, and on all the major islands in the Alexander Archipelago except Admiralty, Baranof and Chichagof. This subspecies of wolf is relatively isolated from other wolves by mountains and water barriers. Many of the wolves travel freely between islands, and their ranges may shift significantly over time. These are small wolves with short hair which is usually either black or another dark color. They average about 3 ½ feet long, 2 feet high, and weigh 30 to 50 pounds. Alexander Archipelago wolves feed primarily on Sitka black-tailed deer. They will also prey on moose, beaver, mustelids, other small mammals, and birds. Researchers have learned in recent years that some wolf packs also spend a surprising amount of time feeding on salmon. In southeast Alaska, cubs are usually born during the last 2 weeks of April. Dens are usually built 4 to 5 weeks prior to the birth, between the roots of trees, in small caves or crevices in rocks, abandoned beaver lodges, or expanded mammal burrows. Wolves in Alaska have been under attack since the 1940's. A federal poisoning and aerial shooting campaign began following World War II. By the mid-1950's the government had greatly reduced wolf numbers in much of south central and interior Alaska. Poisoning was banned after statehood in 1959, but aerial shooting and bounty payments continued through the 1960's. The current population of Alexander Archipelago wolves is thought to be between 750 and 1,100.

The Mackenzie River Wolf (Canis lupus mackenzii) also known as the Mackenzie Tundra Wolf is a subspecies of the Gray Wolf found in the Canadian Northwest Territories. Originally identified as subspecies Canis lupus mackenzii in 1943 by Canadian zoologist Rudolph Anderson, the Mackenzie River Wolf was reclassified in 1992 as being a member of the subspecies the Mackenzie Valley wolf (Canis lupus occidentalis), common with wolves in Alaska and Western Canada. It also has similarities to Canis lupus tundarum and Canis lupus pambsileus. This wolf resides east of the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories of Canada from the arctic coast to south of Great Bear Lake. Signs of them have been found as far south as Great Slave Lake. It's a medium size wolf, measuring roughly 60 to 65 in in length from nose to the end of its tail. They can range in color anywhere from white to yellowish white to grey to black or a blend of all of these. The main source of food is caribou, but they will also feed on rodents and salmon. The Mackenzie River Wolf is endangered.

The Mackenzie Valley Wolf (Canis lupus occidentalis) also known as the Alaskan Timber Wolf, the Canadian Timber Wolf, or the Rocky Mountain Wolf, was classified as a Gray Wolf subspecies in 1829 by Sir John Richardson. It is one of the largest wolf subspecies in North America and inhabits much of western Canada and Alaska including Unimak Island. In 1995 and 1996 they were brought from Canada to restore populations in Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho. In Alaska wolf packs are usually 6 to 12 wolves, though some packs may be as large as 20 to 30. Average males weigh between 100 and 145 pounds with females weighing roughly 10 to 20 percent less. The heaviest on record was caught in Alaska in 1939, weighing 175 pounds. They measure 32 to 36 inches shoulder height and 5 to 7 feet in length. Their long powerful legs allow them to travel as far as 70 miles a day, and through rough terrain like deep snow. They can reach speeds of up to 40 miles an hour for short periods of time. Their skull measures about 12 inches long. A combination of powerful jaw and neck muscles allows them to break bones and bring down large prey. The size of Mackenzie Valley Wolves is partially due to their large abundance of food. They prey on wood bison, elk, caribou, musk ox, moose, Dall sheep, Sitka black-tailed deer, mountain goat, beaver, ground squirrel, vole, snowshoe hare, lemmings, and salmon. Breeding season is usually in February. The dominant male and female of the pack breed in attempt to keep up the strength of the pack. Usually 63 days after breeding, 4 to 6 cubs are born. They leave the den in 4 to 6 weeks, and by fall they are large enough to travel and hunt with the pack. They become full-grown in 6 to 8 months, and sexually mature at about 22 months. Human activity is by far their greatest threat. However, protection given to the Mackenzie Valley wolf has allowed its population to increase dramatically. The wolf population in Alaska was estimated between 7,000 and 10,000 in 2006. Wolf population in the northern Rocky Mountains (Greater Yellowstone Area, NW Montana, and Idaho) was estimated to be about 1200 and increasing. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services has decided to remove this wolf from the federal endangered list in the Northern Rockies and the western Great Lakes. Since its reintroduction to Yellowstone, the Mackenzie Valley wolf's possible involvement in the decline of elk populations has been a subject of controversy.

The Baffin Island Wolf (Canis lupus manningi) also known as the Baffin Island Tundra Wolf, is a subspecies of the Gray Wolf which resides exclusively on Baffin Island and several nearby small islands. It was formally recognized as a distinct subspecies in 1943 by zoologist Rudolph Martin Anderson. Its scientific name was taken from zoologist Thomas Henry Manning, who spent a year and a half mapping the island. The Baffin Island Wolf is the smallest of all Arctic Wolves, with a thick white coat which makes it appear larger than it actually is. They are omnivorous and will feed on just about anything if they are hungry enough. However, their major sources of food are lemmings, barren-ground caribou, and the arctic hare. They often hunt either alone or a male and female together. Early records and evidence suggest that the wolves in western Greenland migrated there from Baffin Island and are its descendants. The Baffin Island Wolf is listed as endangered.

The Mogollon Mountain Wolf (Canis lupus mogollonensis), also known as the Southwestern Wolf, was a subspecies of the gray wolf and inhabited the Mogollon Plateau region of central Arizona, east through the Mogollon Mountains in southeast New Mexico to the Sacramento Mountains in central New Mexico. Because of its overlapping range with the Mexican Wolf and the Texas wolf, it was proposed by biologists that the Mogollon Mountain Wolf and the Texas Wolf be conglomerated under the same name and subspecies as the Mexican Wolf. This was because the Mogollon Mountain Wolf was seen as a possible middle subspecies between the Mexican Wolf and the Southern Rocky Mountains Wolf. The subspecies was 135 to 150 cm in length, and weighed 27 to 36 kg. It was similar to the Texas Wolf but was smaller and had "distinctive cranial details". Lighter colored, its fur was a mixture of black and tawny coloring, with cinnamon color mixed in along the edges. It was classified as a Gray Wolf subspecies by biologist Edward A. Goldman in 1937, named after the Mogollon Indians of Arizona and New Mexico. The Mogollon Mountain Wolf was driven to extinction by 1935.

The Texas Wolf (Canis lupus monstrabilis), also known as the Texas Gray Wolf, was a subspecies of the Gray Wolf that once roamed from southeastern New Mexico throughout central Texas, all the way down to the Mexican border and into Louisiana.. It was described as being dark colored, with mixtures of black and gray across its entire body and light patches of cinnamon coloring on the top of its head, although some were occasionally white. The wolf's length measured 135 to 150 cm, and it weighed 27 to 36 kg, very similar in size and appearance to the Mogollon Mountain Wolf. Bison made up a large portion of its diet until the herds of bison were wiped out. When the wolves were forced to switch over to feed on cattle, they were intentionally driven to extinction. It was classified as subspecies in 1937 by biologist Edward A. Goldman. It became extinct just 5 years later in 1942.

The Great Plains Wolf (Canis lupus nubilus), also known as the Buffalo Wolf, is the most common subspecies of the Gray Wolf in the continental United States. It inhabits the western Great Lakes region of the United States in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin and also in Canada. Single wolves have been reported in the Dakotas and as far south as Nebraska. A typical Great Plains wolf is between 4½ and 6½ feet long, from snout to tail, weighs from 60 to 110 pounds, and may have a coat of gray, black or buff with reddish coloring. Like all wolves, the Great Plains Wolf is a very social animal that communicates using body language, scent marking and vocalization with an average pack size of five to six wolves. The territory size for the Great Plains wolf depends on the type and density of prey. Typical prey for the Great Plains Wolf consists of white-tailed deer, moose, beaver, snowshoe hare, and smaller birds and mammals. By the 1930s, Great Plains Wolves were almost eliminated completely in much of the western United States. In Wisconsin and Michigan, it was eradicated by the mid 1960's. Only a small group of wolves survived in northeastern Minnesota along the Ontario border. In 1974, the Great Plains Wolf in the Great Lakes region became fully protected as an endangered species. By 1978, Minnesota's wolf population had increased enough that the wolf was reclassified as threatened in Minnesota. It was originally identified as a separate species by Thomas Say in 1823 and was re-classified as subspecies Canis lupus nubilus in 1841 by Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied. It was believed the Great Plains Wolf had become extinct by 1926. Later studies showed wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Upper Michigan to be its descendants. But their numbers became fewer and fewer until they were federally protected as an endangered species in 1974. With legal protection, their population in Minnesota had become large enough to be reclassified as just threatened in 1978. By 2009, the number of wolves in the Great Lakes region had climbed to an estimated 2,922 in Minnesota, 580 in Michigan, and 626 in Wisconsin. The Fish and Wildlife Service then removed these 4,000 wolves from the endangered species list. As a result, the agency was sued by 5 environmental and animal protection groups and forced to return the wolves to the list.

The Greenland Wolf (Canis lupus orion) has been described as a white to pale colored wolf very similar to the Arctic Wolf and resides in Greenland. It was classified as a distinct subspecies in 1935 by British zoologist Reginald Innes Pocock. However, there is no evidence that the Greenland Wolf still exists or ever did. In fact, the validity of the subspecies Canis lupus orion is doubted by many scientists. It seems unlikely that the Greenland Wolf has at any time developed subspecies characteristics distinct from its Canadian counterpart. The lighter weight of these wolves in Greenland is very likely due to malnutrition rather than a physical difference between the Greenland Wolf and high Arctic tundra wolves. It is generally acknowledged that the Greenland Wolves are migrants from Canada, and the documented reports of wolves on the sea ice in both the northern and southern parts of Nares Strait suggest that this migration is frequent and still continues. The major problem in classifying the Greenland Wolf is that the wolf population is very low in Greenland and it is difficult to find and document the subspecies at all. Therefore, no proper studies have been conducted that can be compared to other studies done on North American wolves. If the Greenland Wolf is an actual subspecies, it is most likely extinct.

The Yukon Wolf (Canis lupus pambasileus), also known as the Alaska Black Wolf, the Alaskan Wolf, and the Interior Alaskan Wolf, is a subspecies of the Gray Wolf and is found in the Yukon and surrounding territories. This subspecies has been found to weigh from 100 to 120 pounds (45 to 54 kg) at full maturity and is considered to be one of the largest subspecies of the Gray Wolf in the world. It is generally found roaming in packs that range in size from five to eight adult members. In pre-colonial Canada, the local Aboriginal population hunted the Yukon Wolf for its fur. This continued in the 1800's, with colonists selling Yukon Wolf furs to Aboriginal tribes in the area, who used them to line their clothing. The first mapping of the wolf population in the Yukon began in the 1950's and subsequently a program of wolf-poisoning began because of the public stigma regarding wolves during the time. A plan known as the Yukon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan was created in the 1980's by the Yukon government to determine how to control the wolf population. From the beginning of the program to 1989, the government reduced the number of wolf packs in the area from 25 to 7, reducing the number of individual members from 215 to 29. The result was that the number of caribou more than doubled and the number of wolves returned to their previous count before the control period. A five year control program created as a part of the Yukon Wolf Plan ended in 1997 that exterminated about 80% of the Yukon Wolf population within the southwest Yukon, specifically around the Aishihik area. This was accomplished by aerial wolf hunting and the use of snares and traps. Numerous wolves were also surgically sterilized in the years between 1994 and 1997. After recovering the bodies of slain wolves, the pelts were removed and sold. In early 2009, the US Board of Game passed through a plan by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game that allowed "the state to hire private helicopters to kill wolves." A few days later, an abrupt government-sanctioned aerial wolf hunt began in Alaska. Before the hunt began, the National Park Service released a statement that said that, if the hunting plan was continued to completion, "this would leave one-to-two wolves per 1,000 square kilometers in the Upper Yukon Wolf Control Area, approximating the lowest known wolf population densities in Alaska."

The Alaskan Tundra Wolf (Canis lupus tundrarum) resides in the tundra regions along the Arctic coast of northern Alaska and was identified as a subspecies in 1912 by zoologist Gerrit Smith Miller. Some believe it is just an extension of the Interior Alaskan Wolf, while others think it is the same as the Mackenzie Valley Wolf or the Mackenzie Tundra Wolf. The Alaskan Tundra Wolf shares many characteristics with all three. Its fur is generally completely white, ranging from white to cream-white with darker fur along the spine and tail. This large wolf measures from 50 to 64 inches in length, and its weight can vary in males from 85 to 176 pounds, and in females from 80 to 120 pounds. They are usually seen in light colored to pure white coats, though they also come in dark coats, including black. Their hair is long, though not as long as the European Tundra Wolf. They have a heavier dentition than the Interior Alaskan Wolf (Yukon Wolf). If possible it will feed on deer, caribou, muskoxen, and also feeds on smaller animals and vegetation. Adult prey is generally too large for a lone wolf, requiring cooperation in a pack to successfully bring it down. If the wolves are unable to ambush their prey, muskoxen often form a circle to protect the vulnerable herd members. Unable to break through the circle, the wolves agitate their prey, attempting to make them flee. If the herd flees, the wolves isolate and kill one of the weaker oxen. The dominant male and female of the pack mate around February. Gestation lasts from 62 to 75 days, and the female usually gives birth to about 4 cubs in a den. All adults participate in raising the wolf cubs and all wolves participate in the hunt.

The Italian Wolf (Canis lupus italicus), also known as the Apennine Wolf, was originally described in 1921 as a subspecies of the Gray Wolf by zoologist Joseph Altobello. However, in 2000 it was considered as a species distinct from Canis lupus by some scientists. There is presently a dispute over whether the Canis lupus italicus is a Gray Wolf subspecies or an actual species of its own, Canis italicus. The genetic distinction of the Italian wolf subspecies has been supported by analysis which consistently assigned all the wolves in Italy to a single group. Wolves of the Italian and Iberian peninsulas have physically distinct features from other Eurasian wolves and each are considered by their researchers to represent their own subspecies. The Italian Wolf is found mainly in the Apennine Mountains in Italy and they have been found dwelling within 25 miles of Rome. Fairly recently they have migrated to Southern France and areas of Switzerland. The Italian Wolf is a medium sized subspecies. Their body size varies from 39 to 55 inches in length and weighs 53 to 88 pounds. Females are roughly 10 percent smaller than males. Italian Wolves are usually a mix of gray and brown, with its "typical gray-brownish coat and a black stripe on the frontal part of the anterior legs." Though rarely seen, black wolves have been sighted in the Mugello region and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. They hunt at night, feeding mainly on both medium and small sized animals such as wild boar, roe deer, and red deer, chamois, elk, hares, and rabbits. Also they feed on plants, berries, and herbs for fiber. When around the suburbs, wolves will feed on garbage, livestock and domestic animals. Because of the rarity of large prey, wolf packs in Italy are often small, comprised of just a reproducing pair and a few young. Mating season usually occurs around the middle of March. Gestation lasts for 60 days, after which the mother gives birth to anywhere from 2 to 7 cubs. Young wolves usually stay with their birth family until they are old enough to start their own family. By the end of the 1920's, wolves throughout the alps and Sicily were annihilated. Their number was also severely reduced in the Appennine regions, all from persecutions. The wolf population in Italy continued to decrease until the early 1970's when Luigi Boitani and Eric Zimen took on a study of the wolf in the Abruzzo Mountains, east of Rome. As a result, the World Conservation Union expressed great interest in the wolf, listing it in the IUCN's Red Data Book of endangered species. The Italian Wolf population in the wild has since increased to between 500 and 600 and is estimated to be growing by 7 percent annually. Their largest threat is the large number of hybrid wolves altering the genetic integrity of the Italian Wolf. A captive breeding program has been started by biologists. However, further controls on the number of domestic dogs are badly needed.

The Saharan Wolf is a wolf-like creature seen in the Sahara region. It is most probably a mis-identification of the African Hunting Dog (Lycaon pictus), although it may be a separate sub-species. The African Hunting Dog is also known as the African wild dog, African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog, painted dog, painted wolf, painted hunting dog, spotted dog, or ornate wolf. This dog is the only canine without dewclaws which are the claws that are on the inside of the front feet. These long-legged canines have only four toes per foot, unlike other dogs, which have five toes on their forefeet. The dog's Latin name means "painted wolf," referring to the animal's irregular, mottled coat, which features patches of red, black, brown, white, and yellow fur. Each animal has its own unique coat pattern, and all have big, rounded ears. African wild dogs live in packs that are usually dominated by a monogamous breeding pair. The female has a litter of 2 to 20 cubs, which are cared for by the entire pack. They are very social, and packs have been known to share food and to assist weak or ill members. Social interactions are common, and the dogs communicate by touch, actions, and vocalizations. The African wild dog hunts in packs and small groups. Like most members of the dog family, it is a cursorial hunter, meaning that it pursues its prey in a long, open chase. Nearly 80% of all wild dog hunts end in a kill. There were once about 500,000 African wild dogs in 39 countries, and packs of 100 or more were not uncommon. Now there are only about 3,000 to 5,500 in fewer than 25 countries, or perhaps only 14 countries.

The Antarctic Wolf (Dusicyon australis) was not a wolf, but diverged from North American wolves over 6,000,000 years ago. It used to be considered closely related to the genus Lycalopex, dog-like canids, and it looked like a fox. However, in 2009 an analysis of DNA identified its closest living relative as the Maned Wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), an unusually long-legged, fox-like South American canid, from which it separated about 6.7 million years ago. The Antarctic Wolf is also known as the Warrah, the Falkland Islands Dog, and the Falkland Islands Fox. It was the only native land mammal of the Falkland Islands. This canid was hunted to extinction by 1876, the first known canid to have gone extinct in historical times. Fur had a tawny colour and the tip of the tail was white. The diet is unknown, but its food probably consisted of ground-nesting birds such as geese and penguins, grubs and insects, as well as seashore scavenging. It has sometimes been said that it may have dwelt in burrows.

The Irish Wolf (Canis lupus hibernia) is extinct. The presence of wolves in Ireland can be traced as far back as 30,000 years, and it is believed that there could have been more then 1000 wolves living in Ireland at one time. The average wolf pack was 5 to 10 wolves and their habitat was mainly forest areas due to the amount of woodland in Ireland, but they could also be found in bog land, mountain ranges and limestone barrens. They were also seen on the outskirts of towns and cities. Wolves living in the provinces of Munster and Connacht were mostly along the west coast where it was largely uninhabited by humans at that time. Large numbers were also found in the north of Ireland. An extermination campaign was put into place by Oliver Cromwell, the English political and military leader. The extermination of wolves in Ireland was due to deforestation because of the increase in population and human predation. When they realized there was such a large population of wolves in Ireland, bounty hunters arrived from England, Scotland and Europe and wolf hunting became a profitable holiday adventure. Between July 1649 and November 1656 the total amount of bounty paid out for wolf kills in Ireland was £3,847 5s. In 1786 a sheep farmer named John Watson from Ballydarton in County Carlow began losing stock to a lone wolf that lived on Mount Leinster. He hunted it down with his wolfhounds and killed it. It is the last authenticated record of a wolf in Ireland. Although the Irish Wolf is extinct, there are still the descendents of supposedly wolf-dog crosses such as deerhounds and paradoxically the Irish wolfhounds – specifically bred to kill wolves.

The Russian wolf (Canis lupus communis) is a subspecies of the Gray Wolf that lives in north central Russia, one of five subspecies in the Russian Federation together with the Eurasian Wolf, the Caspian Wolf, the Tibetan Wolf, and the Tundra Wolf . It is quite large with an average weight of 55 kg and a variation of 30 to 80 kg for males and an average weight of 45 kg and 23 to 55 kg for a variation of the females. In uninhabited areas of Russia wolves are very successful predators. When working in packs they can hunt large ungulates such as the maral, the wild boar, and the moose. Because of the scarcity of prey, wolves are competing with tigers, so their number tends to decline in places where these big cats have been reintroduced. Some believe that wolves in Russia are more aggressive towards humans than their cousins in North America and attacks have been recorded, especially in rural areas where human populations defend their flocks. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Soviet government worked assiduously to kill wolves and other predators during an extensive program to rehabilitate the land. There was no room for wolves and other predators in their plan, so they ordered the Red Army to exterminate every predator, and the men worked so efficiently that it led to the extinction of the Caspian tiger. During WWII when the Russian government focused its attention on defending the Nazi invasion, the wolf population numbers increased again. After the defeat of Germany, the USSR focused on the reconstruction of its territories and the killing of wolves began again. 42,300 wolves were killed in the USSR in 1945, 62,700 in 1946, 58,700 in 1947, 57,600 in 1948 and 55,300 in 1949. Between 1950 and 1954 50,000 were killed each year. The wolf survived mainly because of the wide part of the territory inhabited by man. The first Soviet studies on wolves were limited to seeking new ways to exterminate them. Between the 1970's and 1990's, their attitude changed and they began to protect the wolves. With the fall of the Soviet Union the extermination of wolves was banned. Their number has stabilized, although they are still legally hunted. It is estimated that every year in Russia 15,000 wolves are killed for their fur, persecution, and because of conflicts with humans. Following the new doctrine of the capitalist government, the attention of Russia has been focused on the economy and all business of domestic politics and the study of wolves has been largely abandoned due to lack of funds.

The Caspian Sea Wolf (Canis lupus cubanensis), also known as the Caucasian Wolf, is a critically endangered subspecies of the Gray Wolf once found throughout the area between the Caspian and Black seas. Now an extremely rare animal, it exists only in a remote area in the extreme southeastern portion of Russia that borders the Caspian Sea. Also known as the Caucasian Wolf, it has been hunted as a nuisance sometimes killing livestock. The government had a bounty system for killing predators, which was abolished in 1993. Also the Caspian Sea has been polluted by Russian waste water, which has had an impact on wolves and other wild animals in and around that area. It's a smaller wolf with reddish brown fur and some white around the snout, prefers a mate and likes a hilly terrain and some salt water.

The Iberian wolf (Canis lupus signatus) is a subspecies of Gray Wolf that inhabits the forest and plains of northern Portugal and northwestern Spain. It differs from the Eurasian Wolf with its thinner build, white marks on the upper lips, and dark marks on the tail and a pair of dark marks on its front legs that give it its subspecies name, signatus ("marked"). The subspecies differentiation may have developed due to the isolation of the Iberian Peninsula when glacier barriers grew in the Pyrenees and eventually reached the Gulf of Biscay in the West and the Mediterranean in the East. Males can weigh up to 40 kilograms, with females usually weighing 10 kg less. They live in small packs. Humans consider it to be beneficial because it keeps the population of wild boar stable. It also eats rabbits, roe deer, red deer, ibexes and even small carnivores and fish. In some places it eats domestic animals such as sheep and calves. Until the early 1970's the wolf was officially considered as a pest in Spain, and the government paid out bounties for dead wolves and distributed strychnine to landowners and peasants. At the time, many saw the wolf as a mark of a Third World country, in contrast to civilized countries like France and Britain who had successfully eradicated their wolves. Now people's attitudes have changed. While there is still much suspicion and hate among some rural populations, many in Spain now see the wolf as an animal worthy of protection. The Spanish populist of nature, Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, played no small part in this conversion. Millions of homes in Spain in the 1970's were captivated by his television series "El Hombre y la Tierra" with a wolf the star of the show. Rodríquez used wolves he had raised himself from cubs for the film. There are almost 3,000 wolves in Spain.

The South-Eastern Spanish Wolf (Canis lupus deitanus) is thought by some to be a different subspecies than the Iberian Wolf. It was smaller and more reddish in color, without dark spots. Both subspecies were nominated as subspecies by Ángel Cabrera in 1908. It was last sighted in Murcia in the 1930's and is thought to be extinct.

The Asian Desert Wolf (Canis lupus desertorum or Canis lupus palies) is a rather small subspecies of the Gray Wolf with a well-defined shape. The average length of its skull in different populations of 2297 males and 2339 females was found to be 218.8 mm. Its colour is bright, similar to the Iraninan Wolf, and on the back mostly along the ridge are black guard hairs. It inhabits the sand deserts of southern Kazakhstan, Central Asia, northern Afghanistan, and possibly northeastern Iran.

The Egyptian Wolf (Canis lupus lupaster) is a subspecies of the Gray Wolf that inhabits North Africa. It is rather small, lanky, and usually a grizzled or tinged gray or brown. The front of the forelimbs have black markings. Adults measure 872 mm in head and body length, 312 mm in tail-length and weigh 13 kg. The skull is almost indistinguishable in size from that of the Indian Wolf, though the teeth are not as large. It is also known as the Libya Wolf. This subspecies is critically endangered and very rarely encountered by humans. Historically, whether or not Canis lupus lupaster is a large jackal or a small wolf has been the subject of debate. A a collaborative study conducted by the University of Oslo, Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit and Addis Ababa University compared the genetic material from golden jackals in Ethiopia with Israeli and Egyptian samples and with other wild wolf-like canids. The results place the "Egyptian jackal" and similar "jackals" from Ethiopia firmly within the Gray Wolf species complex, together with the Holarctic Wolf, the Indian Wolf, and the Himalayan Wolf. The analysis indicated that the Egyptian jackal represents an ancient strain of wolf, together with the Indian and Himalayan Wolf, which colonized Africa prior to the spread of Canis lupus to the northern hemisphere.

The Mississippi Valley Wolf (Canis rufus gregoryi) is a subspecies of the Gray Wolf that inhabits the Lower Mississippi River basin, mainly the western side, in southeastern Missouri, Arkansas, southeastern Oklahoma, eastern Texas, and Louisiana. It is a large but slender form of a small species. Closely allied to Canis rufus rufus of Texas, but larger and grayer, it is less tawny. Similar in size and color to Canis rufus floridanus of Florida, its skull is more slender and dentition much lighter. The middle and sides of its face is mixed black and gray, the combination changing to black and cinnamon, with buff on the top of its head. Its upper parts from nape to rump are light buff, heavily mixed or overlaid with black. The outer surfaces of its legs are between cinnamon and cinnamon buff, becoming paler on the feet. There is a black line along external surface of forearm with its muzzle cinnamon buff above and ears near cinnamon brown, mixed with black. Its lips, chin, and throat are white, and the under side of the neck a buff gray. The rest of under parts dull white, with a tail similar to the back with black-tipped hairs.

The Austro-Hungarian Wolf (Canis lupus minor) is a small subspecies of the Gray Wolf with short fur and a reddish colour. It is believed to be a golden jackal, which is not a jackal but a subspecies ot the Gray Wolf with some admixture of coyote. However, this belief is contradicted by a variety of descriptions of its pointer size. Known in Hungary as "Nádi farkas" (reed wolf) or the Hungarian Reed Wolf, it was considered extinct by 1930 because it was persecuted as a constant threat to domestic animals. Thanks to a captive breeding program, the Austro-Hungarian Wolf has made a comeback after a 100 year break. It has been reintroduced into the wild and there are now an estimated 50 wolves in Hungary. This wolf has returned to the wetter shoreland areas along both the Tisza and the Dráva rivers, the major tributaries of the Danube River. Recent population increases are promising.


Subspecies: occidentalis

Canis lupus alces (Kenai Peninsula Wolf - Extinct)
Canis lupus columbianus (British Columbian Wolf - Endangered)
Canis lupus griseoalbus (Manitoba Wolf - presumed Extinct)
Canis lupus makenzii (Mackenzie Tundra Wolf - Endangered)
Canis lupus occidentalis (Mackenzie Valley Wolf)
Canis lupus pambasileus (Interior Alaskan Wolf)
Canis lupus tundrarum (Alaska Tundra Wolf)

Subspecies: nubilus

Canis lupus beothucus (Newfoundland Wolf - Extinct)
Canis lupus crassodon (Vancouver Island Wolf - Endangered)
Canis lupus fuscus (Cascade Mountains Wolf - Extinct)
Canis lupus hudsonicus (Hudson Bay Wolf - Endangered)
Canis lupus irremotus (Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf - Extinct)
Canis lupus labradorius (Labrador Wolf - Endangered)
Canis lupus ligoni (Alexander Archipelago Wolf)
Canis lupus lycaon [of Minnesota] (Eastern Timber Wolf - Endangered)
Canis lupus manningi (Baffin Island Tundra Wolf - Endangered)
Canis lupus nubilus (Great Plains Wolf/ Buffalo Wolf - Extinct)
Canis lupus youngi (Southern Rocky Mountain Wolf - Extinct)

Subspecies: lycaon

Canis lupus lycaon (not the Minnesota lycaons) (Eastern Timber Wolf - Endangered)

Subspecies: arctos

Canis lupus arctos (Melville Island Wolf , Arctic Wolf - Endangered)
Canis lupus bernardi (Banks Island Tundra Wolf - Extinct)
Canis lupus orion (Greenland Wolf)

Subspecies: baileyi

Canis lupus baileyi (Mexican Wolf - Endangered)
Canis lupus mogollonensis (Mogollon Mountain Wolf - Extinct)
Canis lupus monstrabilis (Texas Gray Wolf - Extinct)


Subspecies: albus
Canis lupus albus (White Tundra Wolf)

Subspecies: arabs
Canis lupus arabs (Arabian Wolf - Endangered)

Subspecies: campestris
Canis lupus campestris (Steppe Wolf)

Subspecies: chanco
Canis lupus chanco (Mongolian Wolf)

Subspecies: communis
Canis lupus communis (Russian Wolf)

Subspecies: cubanensis
Canis lupus cubanensis (Caspian Sea Wolf)

Subspecies: deitanus
Canis lupus deitanus (Spanish Wolf - Extinct)

Subspecies: desertorum
Canis lupus desertorum or Canis lupus palies (Asian Desert Wolf)

Subspecies: hattai
Canis lupus hattai or Canis lupus rex (Hokkaido Japanese Wolf - Extinct)

Subspecies: hodophilax
Canis lupus hodophilax (Hondo Japanese Wolf - Extinct)

Subspecies: italicus
Canis lupus italicus (Italian Wolf)

Subspecies: laniger
Canis lupus laniger (Tibetan Wolf)

Subspecies: lupus
Canis lupus lupus (Common Wolf - Endangered)

Subspecies: lupaster
Canis lupus lupaster (Egyptian Wolf, Libya Wolf)

Subspecies: minor
Canis lupus minor (Austro-Hungarian Wolf)

Subspecies: pallipes
Canis lupus pallipes (Indian, Iranian, Asiatic Wolf, Middle Eastern Wolf - Endangered)

Subspecies: signatus
Canis lupus signatus (Iberian Wolf - critically Endangered)

Subspecies: hibernia
Canis lupus hibernia (Irish Wolf - Extinct)

Subspecies: familiaris
Canis lupus familiaris (the dog)


Species: rufus (RED WOLF - critically Endangered)

Subspecies: Canis Rufus Rufus (Red Wolf - critically Endangered)

Subspecies: Canis Rufus Gregoryi (Swamp Wolf, Mississippi Valley Red Wolf)

Subspecies: Canis rufus floridianus (Florida Red Wolf - Extinct)


Species: simensis (Ethiopian Wolf - critically Endangered)

Subspecies: simensis

Canis simensis simensis (Ethiopian Wolf - critically Endangered)

Subspecies: citernii

Canis simensis citernii (Ethiopian Wolf - critically Endangered)


Species: dirus (Dire Wolf -