Great Plains wolf
|Great Plains wolf|
|Subspecies:||C. l. nubilus|
|Canis lupus nubilus
|Great Plains wolf range|
The Great Plains wolf (Canis lupus nubilus), also known as the Buffalo wolf, is the most common subspecies of the gray wolf in the continental United States. It currently inhabits the western Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada. A typical Great Plains wolf is between 4½ and 6½ feet long, from snout to tail, weighs from 60 to 110 pounds, and may have a coat of gray, black or buff with red-ish coloring. Like all wolves, the Great Plains wolf is a very social animal that communicates using body language, scent marking and vocalization with an average pack size of five to six wolves. The territory size for the Great Plains wolf depends on the type and density of prey. Typical prey for the Great Plains wolf consists of white-tailed deer, moose, beaver, snowshoe hare, and smaller birds and mammals.
The historic range of the Great Plains wolf was throughout the United States and the southern regions of Canada. By the 1930s, Great Plains wolves were extirpated almost eliminated completely, in much of the western United States.
In Wisconsin and Michigan, the Great Plains wolf was eradicated by the mid- 1960s. Only a small group of wolves survived in northeastern Minnesota along the Ontario border. In 1974, the Great Plains wolf in the Great Lakes region became fully protected as an endangered species. By 1978, Minnesota's wolf population had increased enough that the wolf was reclassified as threatened in Minnesota. The Great Plains wolf is found in the Eastern distinct population segment (DPS) categorized under the Endangered Species Act which is now awaiting new legislation to completely remove it from the endangered species list.
The estimated population for Great Plains wolves for 2004 in the United States was over 3,700 wolves. The population was distributed as follows:
- Michigan 360
- Isle Royale 30
- Wisconsin 425
- Minnesota 3,020
North and South Dakota officials have noted lone wolves but evidence indicates that the wolves were dispersers from populations outside the Dakotas, and that a breeding population probably does not exist there.
Interbreeding with coyotes
In the Animal Planet program, reports in Virginia have suggested that many of the Great Plains wolves in parts of the United States, including those migrating into said state, are diminishing in population due to a recent increase of crossbreeding with coyotes. In the Journal of Mammalogy by Christine Bozarth of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, DNA studies revealed that coyotes moving into Northern Virginia stopped along their route to breed with the Great Plains wolves migrating south. Bozarth and her colleagues also suspect that humans might have a hand for indirectly causing these crossbreedings by suggesting that the changes inflicted on North American ecosystems over the past 150 years, due to hunting, habitat encroachment, pollution and other causes, have pushed the coyotes out of their native homelands of the plains and southwestern deserts. As a result, many are migrating north into the wolf habitats, a factor that opens more chances for encounters between grey wolves and the southern coyotes allowing both species to hybridize.
- Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Viegas, Jennifer (2011-10-25). Wither the Wolf, Behold the Coywolf : Discovery News. News.discovery.com. Retrieved on 2012-12-29.
- Are Wolves Interbreeding Themselves to Extinction? : 80beats. Blogs.discovermagazine.com (2008-10-16). Retrieved on 2012-12-29.
|Wikispecies has information related to: Canis lupus nubilus|