Great Lakes wolf

Great Lakes wolf


Canis lupus lycaon

The eastern wolf also known as the timber wolf, Algonquin wolf or eastern timber wolf, is a canine of debated taxonomy native to the Great Lakes region and southeastern Canada. It is considered to be either a unique subspecies of gray wolf or a separate species from the gray wolf. Many studies have found the eastern wolf to be the product of ancient and recent genetic admixture between the gray wolf and the coyote, while other studies have found some or all populations of the eastern wolf, as well as coyotes, originally separated from a common ancestor with the wolf over 1 million years ago and that these populations of the eastern wolf may be the same species as or a closely related species to the red wolf of the Southeastern United States. Regardless of its status, it is regarded as unique and therefore worthy of conservation with Canada citing the population in eastern Canada as being the eastern wolf population subject to protection. There are two forms, the larger being referred to as the Great Lakes wolf, which is generally found in Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, southeastern Manitoba and northern Ontario, and the smaller being the Algonquin wolf, which inhabits eastern Canada, specifically central Ontario and southwestern Quebec, with some overlapping and mixing of the two types in the southern portions of northeastern and northwestern Ontario. The eastern wolf's morphology is midway between that of the gray wolf and the coyote. The fur is typically of a grizzled grayish-brown color mixed with cinnamon. The nape, shoulder and tail region are a mix of black and gray, with the flanks and chest being rufous or creamy. It primarily preys on white-tailed deer, but may occasionally attack moose and beavers. In the third edition of Mammal Species of the World published in 2005, the mammalogist W. Christopher Wozencraft listed the eastern wolf as a gray wolf subspecies, which supports its earlier classification based on morphology in three studies. This taxonomic classification has since been debated, with proposals based on DNA analyses that includes a gray wolf ecotype, a gray wolf with genetic introgression from the coyote, a gray wolf/coyote hybrid, a gray wolf/red wolf hybrid, the same species as the red wolf, or a separate species closely related to the red wolf. Commencing in 2016, two studies using whole genome sequencing indicate that North American gray wolves and wolf-like canids were the result of ancient and complex gray wolf and coyote mixing, with the Great Lakes wolf possessing 25% coyote ancestry and the Algonquin wolf possessing 40% coyote ancestry. In the US, a bill is before Congress to remove protections under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 for the gray wolf populations located in the western Great Lakes region. In Canada, the eastern wolf is listed as Canis lupus lycaon under the Species At Risk Act 2002, Schedule 1 - List of Wildlife at Risk. In 2015, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada recognized the eastern wolf in central Ontario and southwestern Quebec as Canis cf. lycaon and a threatened species worthy of conservation. The main threat to this wolf is human hunting and trapping outside of the protected areas, which leads to genetic introgression with the eastern coyote due to a lack of mates. Further human development immediately outside of the protected areas and the negative public perception of wolves are expected to inhibit any further expansion of their range. In 2016, the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario recognized the Algonquin wolf as a Canis sp. differentiated from the hybrid Great Lakes wolves which it found were the result of "hybridization and backcrossing among Eastern Wolf, Gray Wolf, and Coyote ".

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Great Lakes wolf habitat map


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