Gray Wolf

Canis lupus

Photo: Nancy Turner

Appearance

Gray wolves have gray, brown, black and tan-coloured coats. They have distinct yellow eyes with a bushy tail, long legs and big feet. They grow to one and a half metres long, and have an average weight of 45 kilograms.

Range & Habitat

Gray wolves were once found across the northern hemisphere, but in North America, they currently live in Alaska, Canada, and a few small pockets in the northern US Rockies. In B.C., this animal is found in the Coast and Mountains, Central Interior, Sub-Boreal Interior, Boreal Plains and Northern Boreal Mountains ecoprovinces.

Diet & Behaviour

Their favourite foods are hoofed animals, rabbits, squirrels, mice, birds, and fish (they will also eat berries and grasses). They live in families called territorial packs with a male and female dominant alpha. Wolves have an amazing sense of smell, are fast runners and possess great hearing and night-vision.

Lifecycle & Threats

Females go into dens to have their young, while family and pack members hang around and bring food. Mothers give birth to an average of four or five pups in late April or early May. The pups venture out of their den after three or four weeks. If they reach maturity they typically live at least five years in the wild.
Threats to wolves include habitat loss and hunting. Much of their range has been taken over by humans and there are fewer habitats for the wolves’ prey as well. Wolves have traditionally been viewed as brutal killers, but more people are seeing them as important predators that eat many weak and sick animals, and are realizing that they are too afraid of humans to come near us.

Status

COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

More Information

www.defenders.org

Photo: Hobson