the grey wolf

[142], In the contiguous United States, wolf declines were caused by the expansion of agriculture, the decimation of the wolf's main prey species like the American bison, and extermination campaigns. [40] Other vocalizations include growls, barks and whines. There have been few substantiated wolf attacks on humans in North America. Gray wolves are the largest members of the dog family (canis lupus), and the ancestor of the domestic dog (canis lupus familiaris). The head was about 16 in (41 cm) long, much bigger than a modern wolf's head. [207][216] The most frequently killed hunting breeds in Scandinavia are Harriers, older animals being most at risk, likely because they are less timid than younger animals, and react to the presence of wolves differently. [140] As of 2016, estimates of wolf numbers include: 4,000 in the Balkans, 3,460–3,849 in the Carpathian Mountains, 1,700–2,240 in the Baltic states, 1,100–2,400 in the Italian peninsula, and around 2,500 in the northwest Iberian peninsula as of 2007. [211] Wolves mainly attack livestock when the animals are grazing, though they occasionally break into fenced enclosures. More than 100 people testified at the meeting. More than thirty subspecies of Canis lupus have been recognized, and gray wolves, as colloquially understood, comprise non-domestic/feral subspecies. [107] Oestrus and rut begin in the second half of winter and lasts for two weeks. [82][77], In Israel, Central Asia and India wolves may encounter striped hyenas, usually in disputes over carcasses. D. renale causes the complete destruction of the kidney's functional tissue and can be fatal if both kidneys are infected. Although credited with having changed popular perceptions on wolves by portraying them as loving, cooperative and noble, it has been criticized for its idealization of wolves and its factual inaccuracies. The speed of sprinting prey is closely related to the speed of their main predators. The African golden wolf is a descendant of a genetically admixed canid of 72% wolf and 28% Ethiopian wolf ancestry. Their coloration provides camouflage while hunting. Based on interviews with eye witnesses in Argentina and years of ... See full summary ». [110] Newborn wolf pups look similar to German Shepherd Dog pups. The most common type of wolf is the gray wolf, or timber wolf. Of all members of the genus Canis, the wolf is most specialized for cooperative game hunting as demonstrated by its physical adaptations to tackling large prey, its more social nature, and its highly advanced expressive behaviour. [203] The Chechen wolf has been a symbol of the Chechen Nation. He classified the domestic dog as Canis familiaris, and the wolf as Canis lupus. [223] Rabid wolves usually act alone, travelling large distances and often biting large numbers of people and domestic animals. [34] The wolf's head is large and heavy, with a wide forehead, strong jaws and a long, blunt muzzle. [169] The Ancient Romans connected the wolf with their god of war and agriculture Mars,[170] and believed their city's founders, Romulus and Remus, were suckled by a she-wolf. [117] If the targeted animal stands its ground, wolves either ignore it, or try to intimidate it into running. [135] In wolves, the incubation period is eight to 21 days, and results in the host becoming agitated, deserting its pack, and travelling up to 80 km (50 mi) a day, thus increasing the risk of infecting other wolves. The wolf is also distinguished from other Canis species by its less pointed ears and muzzle, as well as a shorter torso and a longer tail. [40] These marks are generally left every 240 m (260 yd) throughout the territory on regular travelways and junctions. [81] Wolf and Siberian tiger interactions are well-documented in the Russian Far East, where tigers significantly depress wolf numbers, sometimes to the point of localized extinction. [137], Wolves can carry over 30 roundworm species, though most roundworm infections appear benign, depending on the number of worms and the age of the host. The warmth of the foot pads is regulated independently from the rest of the body and is maintained at just above tissue-freezing point where the pads come in contact with ice and snow. They form highly socialized packs with strict hierarchy. ", "Tools for the Edge: What's New for Conserving Carnivores", 10.1641/0006-3568(2006)056[0253:TFTEWN]2.0.CO;2, 10.2193/0091-7648(2004)032[1195:HRTPSH]2.0.CO;2,, Extant Middle Pleistocene first appearances, Short description is different from Wikidata, Wikipedia indefinitely semi-protected pages, Wikipedia indefinitely move-protected pages, All Wikipedia articles written in Canadian English, Articles containing Proto-Germanic-language text, Articles with Encyclopædia Britannica links, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. The den is usually constructed not more than 500 m (550 yd) away from a water source. This suggests they either often processed carcasses, or that they competed with other carnivores and needed to consume their prey quickly. [80] Wolves more broadly affect cougar population dynamics and distribution by dominating territory and prey opportunities and disrupting the feline's behaviour. The victims are chosen at random, though most cases involve adult men. Often caribou and deer will flee, but sometimes deer also make a stand. They have a fast growth rate during their first four months of life: during this period, a pup's weight can increase nearly 30 times. A peer-review panel found it riddled with errors … Gray wolves look somewhat like a large German shepherd. [40] Females tend to have narrower muzzles and foreheads, thinner necks, slightly shorter legs, and less massive shoulders than males. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). [177] In Chinese astronomy, the wolf represents Sirius as the "blue beast" and the star itself is called the "heavenly wolf". The top of the head, forehead, under and between the eyes, and between the eyes and ears is gray with a reddish film. It is proposed that these features were specialized adaptations for the processing of carcass and bone associated with the hunting and scavenging of Pleistocene megafauna. Most pups are almost adult size by October or November. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? Wozencraft referred to a 1999 mitochondrial DNA study as one of the guides in forming his decision, and listed the 38 subspecies of C. lupus under the biological common name of "wolf", the nominate subspecies being the Eurasian wolf (C. l. lupus) based on the type specimen that Linnaeus studied in Sweden. The wolf is now extirpated (locally extinct) in much of Western Europe, the United States and Mexico, and in Japan. This adaptation allows wolves to locate prey within hours, but it can take days to find prey that can be killed without great risk. The historical use of shepherd dogs across Eurasia has been effective against wolf predation,[214][218] especially when confining sheep in the presence of several livestock guardian dogs. Throughout spring and summer the pups are the centre of attention as well as the geographic focus of the pack’s activities. Gray wolves move and hunt mostly at night, especially in areas populated by humans and during warm weather. The wolf is the largest extant member of Canidae, males averaging 40 kg (88 lb) and females 37 kg (82 lb). [185] The Dena'ina believed wolves were once men and viewed them as brothers. [109], Single wolves or mated pairs typically have higher success rates in hunting than do large packs; single wolves have occasionally been observed to kill large prey such as moose, bison and muskoxen unaided. [153], During the 19th century, wolves were widespread in many parts of the Holy Land east and west of the Jordan River, but decreased considerably in number between 1964 and 1980, largely due to persecution by farmers. The decline of the traditional pastoral and rural economies seems to have ended the need to exterminate the wolf in parts of Europe. [54][55] The wolf specializes in preying on the vulnerable individuals of large prey,[40] with a pack of 15 able to bring down an adult moose. Winter fur is retained longest by lactating females, although with some hair loss around their teats. [214], Dogs that are employed to guard sheep help to mitigate human–wolf conflicts, and are often proposed as one of the non-lethal tools in the conservation of wolves. [65], In Europe, wolves eat apples, pears, figs, melons, berries and cherries. [152] The Russian government has continued to pay bounties for wolves and annual harvests of 20–30% do not appear to significantly affect their numbers. [104], Wolves are monogamous, mated pairs usually remaining together for life. The kidneys and spleen are eaten once they are exposed, followed by the muscles. By 2018, wolves were thought to be responsible for the losses of hundreds of heads of cattle and other livestock per year in the U.S. To ameliorate the concerns of livestock owners and dampen the potential backlash against wolves, several states have programs that compensate livestock owners for the losses to their herds when there is evidence of wolf attacks on their animals. [138] Among flukes, the most common in North American wolves is Alaria, which infects small rodents and amphibians which are eaten by wolves. When such foods are insufficient, they prey on lizards, snakes, frogs, and large insects when available. [101] Wolf howls can under certain conditions be heard over areas of up to 130 km2 (50 sq mi). The pups grow rapidly and are moved farther and more often as summer comes to an end. Although closely related to domestic dogs, wolves do not show the same tractability as dogs in living alongside humans, being generally less responsive to human commands and more likely to act aggressively. [58] In North America, important range-wide prey are elk, moose, caribou, white-tailed deer and mule deer. Wolves can run at 56–64 km/h (35–40 mph) across several kilometres and will often pursue prey for at least 1 km (0.62 mi). Adoptee males may mate with an available pack female and then form their own pack. The core of their territory is on average 35 km2 (14 sq mi) where they spend 50% of their time. [145] In Mexico and parts of the southwestern United States, the Mexican and U.S. governments collaborated from 1977 to 1980 in capturing all Mexican wolves remaining in the wild to prevent their extinction and established captive breeding programs for reintroduction. More than thirty subspecies of Canis lupus have been recognized, and gray wolves, as colloquially understood, comprise non-domestic/feral subspecies. [148] In many countries of the European Union, the wolf is strictly protected under the 1979 Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Appendix II) and the 1992 Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora (Annex II and IV). [227], This article is about the wolf within the species Canis lupus. The new MH-139 Grey Wolf will serve as an update to the Air Force’s UH-1N Huey, advancing the helicopter in the areas of speed, range, endurance, … [36][70][72] Wolves also kill red, Arctic and corsac foxes, usually in disputes over carcasses, sometimes eating them. Between 5 and 24 subspecies of gray wolves are recognized in North America and 7 to 12 are recognized in Eurasia, with 1 in Africa. [87] The wolf's basic social unit is the nuclear family consisting of a mated pair accompanied by their offspring. [36] The average pack size in North America is eight wolves and in Europe 5.5 wolves. The main prey are large herbivores such as deer, elk, moose, bison, bighorn sheep, caribou, and musk oxen, which they chase, seize, and pull to the ground. Caribou live in herds of thousands which presents dangers for wolves. In autumn the pack starts to travel again within its territory, and the pups must keep up. Although canine distemper is lethal in dogs, it has not been recorded to kill wolves, except in Canada and Alaska. The milk canines erupt after one month. Although lyme disease can debilitate individual wolves, it does not appear to significantly affect wolf populations. This is the type of wolf that most people are familiar with. However, those wolf populations living in Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan are listed in its Appendix I, indicating that these may become extinct without restrictions on their trade. [117] Although people often believe wolves can easily overcome any of their prey, their success rate in hunting hoofed prey is usually low. [48] Differences in coat colour between sexes is absent in Eurasia;[50] females tend to have redder tones in North America. [61], Nonetheless, wolves are not fussy eaters. [214][217] Shepherd dogs are not particularly aggressive, but they can disrupt potential wolf predation by displaying what is to the wolf ambiguous behaviours, such as barking, social greeting, invitation to play or aggression. [10], In the third edition of Mammal Species of the World published in 2005, the mammalogist W. Christopher Wozencraft listed under C. lupus 36 wild subspecies, and proposed two additional subspecies: familiaris (Linnaeus, 1758) and dingo (Meyer, 1793). The Proto-Indo-European root *wĺ̥kʷos may also be the source of the Latin word for the animal lupus (*lúkʷos). Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. [180] In both Hinduism and Buddhism, the wolf is ridden by gods of protection. Male wolves have a straight tail and narrow chest. Tapeworms are commonly found in wolves, as their primary hosts are ungulates, small mammals, and fish, which wolves feed upon. [37] The teeth are heavy and large, making them better suited to crushing bone than those of other canids. The wolf can be found between sea level and 3,000 m (9,800 ft). [118] Wolves are nocturnal predators. In winter, when snow accumulation forces their prey into valleys, interactions between the two species become more likely. After two or more years in the pack, many leave to search for a mate, establish a new territory, and possibly even start their own pack. [137] The tick Dermacentor pictus also infests wolves. Wolves may catch Dioctophyma renale from minks, which infects the kidneys, and can grow to lengths of 100 cm (40 in). Wolves typically commence feeding by consuming the larger internal organs, like the heart, liver, lungs, and stomach lining. Large hunting dogs such as Swedish Elkhounds are more likely to survive wolf attacks because of their better ability to defend themselves. The Grey Wolf (Canis Lupus), also known as the ‘Timber Wolf’ is the largest of the wild dog family. During the summer, wolves generally tend to hunt individually, ambushing their prey and rarely giving pursuit. 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Babbitt: "The Cunning Wolf, "More Jataka Talesby Ellen C. Babbitt: "The Tricky Wolf and the Rats, "Territoriality and interpack aggression in wolves: Shaping a social carnivore's life history. Grey Wolf: Hitler's Escape to Argentina. [191] The tale of "Little Red Riding Hood", first written in 1697 by Charles Perrault, is considered to have further contributed to the wolf's negative reputation in the Western world. Wolves and cougars typically avoid encountering each other by hunting at different elevations for different prey (niche partitioning). [214], The fear of wolves has been pervasive in many societies, though humans are not part of the wolf's natural prey. This is important because wolves do not use vocalization when hunting. In some cases, a lone wolf is adopted into a pack to replace a deceased breeder. [226] Several types of dog, including the Borzoi and Kyrgyz Tajgan, have been specifically bred for wolf hunting. As colonists moved west in the 19th century, wolves became a kind of public enemy. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. [146] As of 2018, there were 230 Mexican wolves living in Mexico, 64 in Arizona, 67 in New Mexico, and 240 in captive breeding programs in both countries. A wolf's legs are long compared to their body size allowing them to travel up to 76 km (47 mi) in 12 hours. [207] The number of animals killed in single attacks varies according to species: most attacks on cattle and horses result in one death, while turkeys, sheep and domestic reindeer may be killed in surplus. [99] The phases of the moon have no effect on wolf vocalization, and despite popular belief, wolves do not howl at the moon. Intruders are often killed by resident packs, yet in some circumstances they are accepted. [220] Indian wolves have a history of preying on children, a phenomenon called "child-lifting". They preyed … [134] Wolves are a major host for rabies in Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and India. Pups begin to eat solid food at the age of three to four weeks. This gait can be maintained for hours at a rate of 8–9 km/h (5.0–5.6 mph). [105] The age of first breeding in wolves depends largely on environmental factors: when food is plentiful, or when wolf populations are heavily managed, wolves can rear pups at younger ages to better exploit abundant resources. [126] Wolves may wound large prey and then lie around resting for hours before killing it when it is weaker due to blood loss, thereby lessening the risk of injury to themselves. Compared with modern wolves, some Pleistocene wolves showed an increase in tooth breakage similar to that seen in the extinct dire wolf. The divergence time for wolves in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia is estimated to be fairly recent at around 1,600 years ago. Females are smaller than males. [63] The diet of coastal wolves in Alaska includes 20% salmon,[64] while those of coastal wolves in British Columbia includes 25% marine sources, and those on the nearby islands 75%. Single wolves or mated pairs typically have higher success rates in hunting than do large packs. The Trump administration is working to lift endangered species protections for gray wolves in the U.S. by the end of 2020. [187] The Bible contains 13 references to wolves, usually as metaphors for greed and destructiveness. Wolves may attack coyote den sites, digging out and killing their pups, though rarely eating them. The red wolf of the southeastern United States is a hybrid animal with 40%:60% wolf to coyote ancestry. In the New Testament, Jesus is said to have used wolves as illustrations of the dangers his followers, whom he represents as sheep, would face should they follow him. [36] In one study, wolves detected moose using scent ten times, vision six times, and once by following tracks in the snow. Wolves eat the brown bears they kill, while brown bears seem to eat only young wolves. [103] Raised leg urination is considered to be one of the most important forms of scent communication in the wolf, making up 60–80% of all scent marks observed. Moose and deer live singly in the summer. This implies the original morphologically diverse wolf populations were out-competed and replaced by more modern wolves. [117], The wolf must give chase and gain on its fleeing prey, slow it down by biting through thick hair and hide, and then disable it enough to begin feeding. At one-and-a-half months of age, they are agile enough to flee from danger. [105], Dens are usually constructed for pups during the summer period. Light-coloured wolves are common in Arctic regions. [92] A new pack is usually founded by an unrelated dispersing male and female, travelling together in search of an area devoid of other hostile packs. [21] An extinct Late Pleistocene wolf may have been the ancestor of the dog,[25][15] with the dog's similarity to the extant wolf being the result of genetic admixture between the two. [209] Wolves typically resort to attacking livestock when wild prey is depleted. [62], In times of scarcity, wolves will readily eat carrion. [96] The smallest territory on record was held by a pack of six wolves in northeastern Minnesota, which occupied an estimated 33 km2 (13 sq mi), while the largest was held by an Alaskan pack of ten wolves encompassing 6,272 km2 (2,422 sq mi). [207] Some nations help offset economic losses to wolves through compensation programs or state insurance. [47] In warm climates, the fur is coarser and scarcer than in northern wolves. [140] The wolf is a protected species in national parks under the Canada National Parks Act. The wolf leaps at its quarry and tears at it. Thorny-headed worms rarely infect wolves, though three species have been identified in Russian wolves: Nicolla skrjabini, Macrocantorhynchus catulinus, and Moniliformis moniliformis. [45] Females in any given wolf population typically weigh 2.3–4.5 kg (5–10 lb) less than males. [105] With wolves in the wild, inbreeding does not occur where outbreeding is possible. Symptoms often include constipation, toxic and allergic reactions, irritation of the intestinal mucosa, and malnutrition. [165] Wolves have been historically persecuted in China[166] but have been legally protected since 1998. [102] Aggressive or self-assertive wolves are characterized by their slow and deliberate movements, high body posture and raised hackles, while submissive ones carry their bodies low, flatten their fur, and lower their ears and tail. When building dens, females make use of natural shelters like fissures in rocks, cliffs overhanging riverbanks and holes thickly covered by vegetation. It was the first wolf species to be featured in the game. Russian history over the past century shows that reduced hunting leads to an abundance of wolves. Between 5 and 24 subspecies of gray wolves are recognized in North America and 7 to 12 are recognized in Eurasia, with 1 in Africa . In Vedic Hinduism, the wolf is a symbol of the night and the daytime quail must escape from its jaws.

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