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Europe & North/Central AsiaGrey wolf Canis lupus

The endangered "Mexican Wolf" subspecies (C.l.baileyi) - © Rurik List

Wolf Working Group - The Wolf working group (formally the Wolf specialist group) is an international organisation of experts on wolves. With wolf conservation matters of internal significance, cooperation across the key geographic areas is paramount.The working group plays a key role in this by allowing for the joint planning of conservation programs, exchange of experiences, research and publications and an assembly of knowledgeable personnel across the globe. Photo: Gray wolf

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English: Grey Wolf, Arctic Wolf, Common Wolf, Gray Wolf, Mexican Wolf, Plains Wolf, Timber Wolf, Tundra Wolf; French: Loup, Loup Gris, Loup Vulgaire; Spanish: Lobo

Least Concern

Originally, the Grey Wolf was the world's most widely distributed mammal. It has become extinct in much of Western Europe, in Mexico and much of the USA, and their present distribution is more restricted; wolves occur primarily in wilderness and remote areas. Their original worldwide range has been reduced by about one-third by poisoning and deliberate persecution due to depredation on livestock. Since about 1970, legal protection, land-use changes and rural human population shifts to cities have arrested wolf population declines and fostered reintroduction and natural recolonization in parts of its range. Continued threats include competition with humans for livestock, especially in developing countries, exaggerated concern by the public regarding the threat and danger of wolves, and fragmentation of habitat, with resulting areas becoming too small for populations with long-term viability.

Although the Grey Wolf still faces some threats, its relatively widespread range and stable population trend mean that the species does not meet, or nearly meet, any of the criteria for the threatened categories. Therefore, it is assessed as Least Concern.

Population trend:Stable

(Grey wolf range map)
(Click on map for more detail)

Habitat and Ecology:

Ranges in all northern habitats where there is suitable food (Mech 1970), densities being highest where prey biomass is highest (Fuller 1989). Food is extremely variable, but the majority comprises large ungulates (moose, caribou, deer, elk, wild boar, etc.). Wolves will also eat smaller prey items, livestock, carrion, and garbage.

 

Major Threats:

Their original worldwide range has been reduced by about one-third, primarily in developed areas of Europe, Asia, Mexico, and the United States by poisoning and deliberate persecution due to depredation on livestock. Since about 1970, legal protection, land-use changes, and rural human population shifts to cities have arrested wolf population declines and fostered natural recolonization in parts of Western Europe and the United States, and reintroduction in the western United States. Continued threats include competition with humans for livestock, especially in developing countries, exaggerated concern by the public concerning the threat and danger of wolves, and fragmentation of habitat, with resulting areas becoming too small for populations with long-term viability. There is sustainable utilization of the species' fur in Canada, Alaska, and the former Soviet Union and Mongolia.

 

Conservation Actions:

The species is included in CITES Appendix II, except populations from Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan, which are listed on Appendix I. There is extensive legal protection in many European countries; however, enforcement is variable and often non-existent. It occurs in many protected areas across its range.

Occurrence in captivity: The species lives and breeds well in captivity and is common in many zoological gardens.

 

Gaps in knowledge:

One of the most important questions still remaining about wolves involves the nature of their interaction with prey populations. The conditions under which wolves limit, regulate, or control their population is still open and important (Mech and Boitani 2003). Of more academic interest are questions involving wolf genetics, scent-marking behaviour, pseudo pregnancy and diseases (Mech 1995).