Gray wolf, Timber wolf, Western wolf
This wolf is the largest species of the wild dog family. Females are smaller than males. Male wolves have a straight tail and narrow chest. The feet of males are large and the legs are long. The overall color of the Grey wolf's fur is typically grey with black markings and lighter underparts, though wolves can occasionally be black, brown, red or even pure white. Grey wolves have a very thick fur, consisting of the coarse outer coat, which covers the soft undercoat. Due to the acute sense of hearing as well as keen sense of smell, the animal is able to successfully track down prey. In addition, the long legs allow them to make long steps, promoting high speed during the chase.
Grey wolves occur across North America and Eurasia, primarily found in remote areas and wilderness. Their range includes different habitats such as forest, arctic tundra, arid terrain and prairie.
Grey wolves are social animals, living, hunting and travelling in packs. An average wolf pack consists of 7-8 individuals, including the alpha male and female with their young as well as older offspring. The alphas are the leaders of the pack, establishing the group's territory, selecting the den sites, tracking down and hunting prey.They live in close ties with the members of their pack, communicating with each other through a wide variety of calls, including barks, whine, howls and growls.They are most active at sunrise and sunset. As a matter of fact, Grey wolves do not actually howl at the moon: they simply tend to howl, when the night is lighter, which usually happens during the full moon.Throughout the year, these animals undergo a stationary and nomadic phases: stationary phase takes place in spring and summer months, when they grown up the young, while nomadic phase lasts from the autumn to winter. Grey wolves prefer moving at night, being able to travel up to 200 km per day.
Within a pack, only the alpha male and female breed. The alphas are monogamous, mating for life, until one of the mates dies, after which a new alpha male of female is determined, and the pair is re-established. Grey wolves breed from January to April. The female is responsible for digging a den, where she further gives birth and raises the pups. The gestation period last about 60-63 days, after which 1-14 pups are born with an average of 6-7. For the first 45 days, all members of the pack participate in feeding the pups through regurgitation. The mother stays with the young for the first 3 weeks, after which the pups continue living in the den, until they reach the age of 8-10 weeks. Females are sexually mature at 2 years old, and males - at 3 years old.
Primary threats include loss and fragmentation of their habitat, leading to considerable reduction of their population. Due to being considered as livestock predators, these animals are frequently killed both individually and in whole packs. In some areas of its range, the species is not legally protected, and thus is widely hunted and trapped.
They Grey wolf is fairly widespread throughout its range. The overall population of the species is presently stable, estimated at about 400,000 animals. On the IUCN Red List, the Grey wolf is classified as Least Concern (LC).
Feeding upon wide variety of animal species such as deer or elk, they control the numbers of their populations, thus benefiting different animal and plant species of their range. Carcasses of prey, left by these wolves, are an important source of nutrients and food for other animals of the area, including scavengers and grizzly bears.