Gray Wolf (Timber Wolf)
The Gray Wolf is the largest wild member of the dog family. They generally have grizzled coats, with gray, black, and light brown fur covering their head and upper body. They have yellowish white fur on their legs and belly. Some subspecies have white or black coats. During winter their undercoats become thick to offer protection against the cold and this gives them a stocky appearance. They shed this winter coat in spring, which leaves them looking much slender. Their tails are bushy, their legs longer than those of coyotes and dogs and they have oversized paws. The Gray Wolf's head and body length ranges between 40-58 inches/1-1.5 meters and its tail adds an additional 13-20 inches/33.0-50.8cm. Their average body weight is between 60-100 pounds/27-45kg. Gray Wolves are relatives of the domestic dog and resemble German Shepherds or Malamutes.
Gray Wolves were once abundant over much of Eurasia, North Africa and North America, Today, Gray Wolves can be found in Alaska, Canada, some northern U.S. states, particularly Minnesota, as well as Russia and a few eastern European countries. Mexican wolves were reintroduced in New Mexico and Arizona. They are making a comeback in the Great Lakes, northern Rockies and Southwestern United States. The Grey Wolves can survive many different conditions and has the largest range of any land mammal, except humans. They have lived in all habitats in the Northern Hemisphere except for tropical forest.
Gray Wolves are carnivores that often prey on larger animals than themselves. This includes the elk, caribou, and deer, as well as beavers, hares, and other small animals. Grey Wolves are also scavengers and often feed on dead animals.
Grey Wolf meat is considered a bizarre delicacy and as a result it is very valuable and quite expensive. It tastes similar to chicken, having the same nutritional value as chicken. People living in extreme cold climates such as Eskimos usually feed on Gray Wolves for its nutritional value.
Gray Wolves are known to live in packs of 2- 12 wolves, although even larger packs have been witnessed. A pack of Gray Wolves usually consist of a breeding pair, offspring from the previous year and the current year, and on rare occasions an unrelated Wolf. After a gestation period of 2 months, a litter between 1-11 pups are born. The regular average is however 5-6 pups. The average life span of Grey Wolves in the wild is about 6-8 years but they can live up to 13 years of age. They are vulnerable to humans who hunt them for different reasons including conflict over the loss of livestock. Lack of sufficient food is another reason for their early cause of death. Gray Wolves have a complex system of communication that ranges from barks and whines to growling and howling. Many fairy tales and myths are told that tend to misrepresent wolves as villainous and dangerous creatures.
Wolf hunting elk
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