The grey wolf is the largest wild member of the Canidae family and is one of two wolf species in British Columbia (the second is the Coyote or Prairie Wolf
). They live in packs but are elusive and are not often seen. The pack is comprised of a male, a female, and their offspring.
Grey Wolf weight and size can vary greatly worldwide, tending to increase proportionally with latitude (Wikipedia 2012). "The gray wolf's head is large and heavy, with wide a forehead, strong jaws and a long, blunt muzzle. The ears are relatively small and triangular. The teeth are heavy and large...On average, adult wolves measure 105–160 cm (41–63 in) in length and 80–85 cm (32–34 in) in shoulder height. The tail is two-thirds the length of the head and body, measuring 29–50 cm (11–20 in) in length. The ears are 90–110 millimeters (3.5–4.3 in) in height, and the hind feet are 220–250 mm. The skull averages 9–11 inches in length, and 5-6 inches wide." (Wikipedia 2012).
The Grey Wolf may be confused with the Coyote, but is more variable in colour and larger and heavier, while the Coyote is fairly uniform in colour. The two species do hybridize in the northeastern US and southeastern Canada, however (Wikipedia 2012).
View a video of wolves feeding along the shoreline of Vancouver Island.
A pack usually produces a singe litter of five or six pups in a year. Diet is primarily deer, elk and moose but they are opportunistic feeders and will feed on a variety of species. Some wolf packs in Alaska and Western Canada have been observed to feed on salmon (Darimont et al. 2003).
Wolves are found in a variety of habitats, including temperate forests, deserts, mountains, tundra, taiga, grasslands, and even urban areas (Wikipedia 2011).
Though once abundant over much of Eurasia and North America, the gray wolf inhabits a very small portion of its former range because of widespread destruction of its territory, human encroachment of its habitat, and the resulting human-wolf encounters that sparked broad extirpation.
The Grey Wolf is found throughout British Columbia.
According to Hatler et al. (2008), taxonomy and subspecies of Grey Wolf are presently unresolved; two subspecies are recognized in BC, pending further research:
1) Canis lupus nubulis (coastal and southern BC)
2) Canis lupus occidentalis (eastern and northern parts of BC).
See Hatler et al. 2008 for further information.