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Wildlife in Canada

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Details about: Grey Timber Wolf
 
Gray wolf on CanadianWildlife.comThe Gray Wolf, also known as a Timber Wolf, is woven into our own history through stories, folklore and fantasy. During the mid-1900’s there were many records and stories of wolves attacking people, however in recent times there have been very few North American reports of people being killed by wolf attacks. According to statistics, more people are killed by hippopotamuses every year than by wolves.

Gray Wolves stand up to 37” (95 cm) tall at the shoulders, measure up to 80” (200 cm) from nose to the tip of the tail and have a maximum average weight of 80 lb (36 kg). Usually a grizzled gray, the coloration range includes white, beige, red, brown and black.

DNA research has shown that wolves have undergone very little evolutionary change in the last 300,000 years. Well adapted to their environment, slight webbing between the toes, special blood vessels in the pads and strong claws allow them to walk through snow and on ice with relative ease. Additionally, a two layer coat keeps wolves protected from the environment. Tougher, longer hairs repel dirt and water while the undercoat, being water-resistant, is the insulator that keeps them warm. This two layer coat is such a good insulator that even during snow and blizzard conditions a wolf will curl up, covering its nose and paws with its tail and wait out the storm warm and content. During the spring and summer, this undercoat is shed by rubbing against trees and rocks.

In late spring to early summer, female wolves will give birth to an average litter of 5 - 6 wolf pups. When born, these pups weigh less than 1 lb (450gr), are deaf, blind and completely dependent on the mother. By 5 weeks of age, they are venturing up to 1 mile (1.6 km) from the den entrance and by 4 months, some of the stronger pups accompany the adult wolves on hunts. Wolves are very family oriented living in packs averaging 4 - 7 wolves, usually consisting of parents, new pups and immature wolves between 1 – 3 years old. Once reaching maturity (between 3 - 4 years old) most wolves will break away from the pack and find a mate to start their own pack.
 
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Lone wolves are either usually older wolves driven from the pack or young wolves that have broken away from the pack and are looking for a mate.

In most areas in the Canadian wilderness, the wolf pack territory is about 80 sq. mi (210 sq km). As a pack, they usually travel and cover about 10% of this area every day, however almost 50% of their time is spent and is focused on only about 15 sq mi (38 sq km). While capable of sprinting at up to 40 mph (km/h), their main reliance, both when travelling their territory and when hunting prey is on their stamina. Rarely will wolves give a high speed chase to potential prey for more than 1,000 yards (915 m). With such a large territory to cover, special scent glands in a wolf’s paw leaves a scent trail on the ground so they know if they’ve been at a spot already. Combined with howling, it is these scent markings that tell other wolves that this is a claimed territory.

Wolves exhibit hunting traits that are unique to their species. Communication amongst a single pack is achieved through the use of a variety of barks, growls, yelps and howls, however, unlike other carnivorous pack animals, they generally do not use sounds to organize and work together on a hunt. Furthermore, when chasing & hunting prey, wolf packs with more males tend to hunt larger, slower animals while packs with more females tend to hunt faster, smaller animals. While being primarily carnivorous, it is found that wolves tend to evolve towards a more vegetarian based diet with reports of wolf packs attacking watermelon patches and plantations.

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