Ed Golson Outdoor Education

Gray Wolf

Scientific Name: Canis lupus

Description: Gray wolves are the largest species in the dog family. They are almost twice as large as coyotes. They usually grow to be 60 to 80 inches long and weigh between 45 and 160 pounds. The color of the wolves depends on where they live. Wolves that live near the arctic are often all white whereas the wolves that live farther south can be any mixture of gray, brown, or black. Wolves can live as long as 13 years in the wild, but most only live about 5 years.

Habitat: Gray wolves used to be found all over North America, from the arctic down to southern Mexico. Today, however, they are only found in a few places in the U.S. and Canada. They can live in many different types of habitat . They live in the arctic tundra, forests , prairies, or deserts .

Feeding: Wolves are carnivores and can hunt their prey by themselves or in packs. What they eat depends a lot on where they live. Up north, wolves will hunt moose, elk, or reindeer. In the forests or prairies, wolves will go after smaller game like rabbits or beaver.

Why are they endangered ? Wolves have become very rare for two main reasons. First, humans have either destroyed or taken over much of their old habitat. Wolves have also become endangered because of over hunting by humans. As pioneers settled the wolf's territory, the farmers feared that the wolves would eat their livestock. The hunters feared that the wolves would keep them from getting their deer. As a result, people killed any wolf they could find and nearly succeeded in causing them to go extinct . Recent efforts to protect the wolf have helped their populations to grow, but they still have a very long way to get to where they once were.


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