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Canis lupus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CARNIVORA CANIDAE

Scientific Name: Canis lupus
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name/s:
English Gray Wolf, Tundra Wolf, Arctic Wolf, Grey Wolf, Mexican Wolf, Plains Wolf, Timber Wolf, Common Wolf, Wolf
French Loup, Loup Gris, Loup Vulgaire
Spanish Lobo, Lobo

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2008-07-01
Assessor/s: Mech, L.D. & Boitani, L. (IUCN SSC Wolf Specialist Group)
Reviewer/s: Sillero-Zubiri, C. & Hoffmann, M.
Justification:

Originally, the Grey Wolf was the world's most widely distributed mammal. It has become extinct in much of Western Europe, in Mexico and much of the USA, and their present distribution is more restricted; wolves occur primarily but not exclusively in wilderness and remote areas. Their original worldwide range has been reduced by about one-third by deliberate persecution due to depredation on livestock and fear of attacks on humans. Since about 1970, legal protection, land-use changes and rural human population shifts to cities have arrested wolf population declines and fostered natural recolonization in parts of its range and reintroduction in three areas of USA. Continued threats include competition with humans for livestock and game species, exaggerated concern by the public regarding the threat and danger of wolves, and fragmentation of habitat, with resulting areas becoming too small for populations with long-term viability.

Although the Grey Wolf still faces some threats, its relatively widespread range and stable population trend mean that the species, at global level, does not meet, or nearly meet, any of the criteria for the threatened categories. Therefore, it is assessed as Least Concern (LC). However, at regional level, several wolf populations are seriously threatened. In North America, some of the reintroduced populations are still threatened; and in Europe, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/3746/1, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/3746/3, the species is classified as LC globally but several regional populations, such as the Western-Central Alps population, are classified as Endangered (http://www.lcie.org/).

History:
2004 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern (IUCN 2004)
1994 Vulnerable (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Vulnerable (IUCN 1990)
1988 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
1986 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
1982 Vulnerable (Thornback and Jenkins 1982)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Originally, the Grey Wolf was the world's most widely distributed mammal, living throughout the northern hemisphere north of 15°N latitude in North America and 12°N in India. It has become extinct in much of Western Europe (Boitani 1995), in Mexico and much of the USA (Mech 1970). Their present distribution is more restricted: wolves occur primarily in wilderness and remote areas, especially in Canada, Alaska and northern USA, Europe, and Asia from about 75°N to 12°N.
Countries:
Native:
Afghanistan; Albania; Armenia (Armenia); Azerbaijan; Belarus; Bhutan; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Canada; China; Croatia; Czech Republic; Estonia; Finland; France; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Greenland; Hungary; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Italy; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Kyrgyzstan; Latvia; Libya; Lithuania; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Mexico; Moldova; Mongolia; Montenegro; Myanmar; Nepal; Norway; Oman; Pakistan; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Russian Federation; Saudi Arabia; Serbia (Serbia); Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Syrian Arab Republic; Tajikistan; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; United States (Georgia); Uzbekistan; Yemen
Possibly extinct:
Bangladesh
Regionally extinct:
Austria; Belgium; Denmark; Ireland; Japan; Luxembourg; Netherlands; Switzerland; United Kingdom
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Because of the diversity in climate, topography, vegetation, human settlement and development of wolf range, wolf populations in various parts of the original range vary from extinct to relatively pristine. Wolf densities vary from about one/12 km² to one/120 km².

Sillero et al. (2004) provide details, for each range country, on subspecies present, population status, approximate numbers, the percentage of former range occupied at present, main prey (where known), legal status, and cause of decline.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Ranges in all northern habitats where there is suitable food (Mech 1970), densities being highest where prey biomass is highest (Fuller 1989). Food is extremely variable, but the majority comprises large ungulates (moose, caribou, deer, elk, wild boar, etc.). Wolves will also eat smaller prey items, livestock, carrion, and garbage.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Their original worldwide range has been reduced by about one-third, primarily in developed areas of Europe, Asia, Mexico, and the United States by poisoning and deliberate persecution due to depredation on livestock. Since about 1970, legal protection, land-use changes, and rural human population shifts to cities have arrested wolf population declines and fostered natural recolonization in parts of Western Europe and the United States, and reintroduction in the western United States. Continued threats include competition with humans for livestock, especially in developing countries, exaggerated concern by the public concerning the threat and danger of wolves, and fragmentation of habitat, with resulting areas becoming too small for populations with long-term viability. There is sustainable utilization of the species' fur in Canada, Alaska, and the former Soviet Union and Mongolia.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species is included in CITES Appendix II, except populations from Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan, which are listed on Appendix I. There is extensive legal protection in many European countries; however, enforcement is variable and often non-existent.

The species now receives legal protection in Afghanistan, having been listed by the Afghan Government on the country's 2009 Protected Species List. This prohibits all hunting and trade of C. lupus within Afghanistan.

It occurs in many protected areas across its range.

Occurrence in captivity:
The species lives and breeds well in captivity and is common in many zoological gardens.

Gaps in knowledge:
One of the most important questions still remaining about wolves involves the nature of their interaction with prey populations. The conditions under which wolves limit, regulate, or control their population is still open and important (Mech and Boitani 2003). Of more academic interest are questions involving wolf genetics, scent-marking behaviour, pseudo pregnancy and diseases (Mech 1995).
Citation: Mech, L.D. & Boitani, L. (IUCN SSC Wolf Specialist Group) 2010. Canis lupus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 17 April 2014.
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