Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)
- Texas Status
- U.S. Status
- Endangered, Listed 3/11/1967
- Protection Status Notes
- Originally listed as Endangered March 11, 1967. Mexican gray wolf listed as an endangered subspecies April 28, 1976. Reintroduced population of Mexican gray wolf listed as experimental nonessential in portions of AZ and NM on Jan. 12, 1998. Minnesota population reclassified as threatened March 9, 1978. Currently extirpated from Texas.
- The Gray Wolf is a close relative of domestic dogs. Its thick fur ranges in color from creamy white, reddish-brown, to shades of gray and black. Gray wolves are the largest species of wolf and range between 50 - 90 pounds and 4 - 5 feet long. Adult males are larger than adult females.
- Life History
- Gray wolves breed once a year. They mate in late winter and pups are born in the spring. Dens are usually ground burrows excavated in slopes where rocks will function to support the roof of the tunnel and burrow. Both parents and other pack members, if present, will bring food to the young, which average about 5 pups in a litter. The bond between mated wolves is very strong and commonly lasts their lifetime. Gray wolves can live up to 15 years.
Gray wolves are carnivores which prey on large herbivores such as deer and Pronghorn antelope, but will also eat rabbits, ground squirrels, and mice. The decline of the Gray Wolf has been attributed mostly to predator control by humans. In the late 1800's and early 1900's, ranchers killed wolves to prevent loss of livestock and wild ungulates such as deer. In those days, even people living in the towns and cities feared wolves and applauded their demise. Predator control was so successful that few individuals remained. Reintroduction efforts of captive-bred individuals have been difficult to initiate due to residual fears for livestock and people, as well as a lack of large, remote tracts of suitable habitat.
- Gray wolves are found in forests, brushlands, or grasslands where suitable cover and denning sites are available.
- Gray wolves were once found throughout North America. Historically, gray wolves were found over the western 2/3 of the state. Today, none remain in Texas. Its status in Mexico is unknown, and it may be extirpated (no longer exists in Mexico).