ADOPT A WOLF
Gray wolves are listed as endangered in the
Southwest under the Endangered Species Act
(ESA) and threatened throughout the lower 48
states. Wolves in Alaska are not listed under the
ESA. Endangered means a species is considered
in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant
portion of its range, and threatened means a species
may become endangered in the foreseeable future.
Regions of Yellowstone, central Idaho and the Southwest
are designated as non-essential experimental populations,
which isolate geographically-described groups from other
existing populations and offer special regulations.
Wolves range in color from grizzled gray or black to all-white.
As the ancestor of the domestic dog, the gray wolf resembles
German shepherds or huskies.
The wolf is the largest member of the canine family. On
average, wolves stand 26 to 32 inches at the shoulder and
weigh 55 to 115 pounds. Females are usually slightly smaller
There are an estimated 7,000 to 9,000 wolves in Alaska and more than 3,500 in the lower 48 states. Around the world there are an estimated 200,000 in some 57 countries, compared to up to 2 million in earlier times.
Wolves live eight to 12 years.
Today the range of the gray wolf has been reduced to the following portions of the United States: Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Wolves can be found in forests, and on tundra, deserts, plains and mountains.
Wolves normally prey on large hoofed mammals such as deer and elk but occasionally prey on smaller animals such as beavers or rabbits.
Wolves live in packs, which are complex social structures that include the breeding adult pair (the alpha male and female) and their offspring. A hierarchy of dominant and subordinate animals within the pack help it to function as a unit. Wolves communicate by scent-marking, vocalizing (including howling), facial expressions and body postures.
Wolves mate in January or February. Females give birth two months later to a litter of pups. An average litter is four to seven pups.
The illegal killing of wolves has become a leading threat to their survival. Another serious problem is human encroachment into wolf territory, which leads to habitat loss for wolves.
*CITES, Appendix I (populations of Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan); Appendix II (all other populations), Endangered Species Act
*Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international treaty with more than 144 member countries. Appendix I listed species cannot be traded commercially. Appendix II listed species can be traded commercially only if trade does not harm their survival.