Wolves are the largest members of the dog family. Wolves are the ancestors of all domestic dogs. They used to be found all over the Northern Hemisphere, but in the lower 48 states they were hunted to near extinction. With breeding programs and protection, they have been reintroduced to some areas. Now they can be found in some areas of North America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa.
There are 1 to 3 species of wolf. There is debate whether two of them are their own species or if they are a subspecies of Canis lupus. Including the two debated subspecies, there are 38 subspecies of Canis lupus listed, but some of them have now gone extinct. Visit this page on Wikipedia to see a listing of all the subspecies: Subspecies of Canis lupus.
A wolf pack size can range from 3 to 20 wolves. They are usually made up of the male and female parents (the alpha pair) and their pups from previous years. The pack has a social structure and all wolves have a certain rank in the pack. Sometimes a lower wolf may challenge the alpha for leadership or it may leave and start its own pack.
The pack works together to hunt for food. They prefer to hunt larger animals like deer, moose, elk, and bison, but they will also eat hares, beavers, birds, fish, and other small animals.
Wolves are a keystone species, which means they play an important role in the ecosystem. It’s amazing what happened in Yellowstone Park when wolves were reintroduced after being gone for 70 years.
Watch this video to see what happened.