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North Dakota's Endangered and Threatened Species

Gray Wolf
Canis lupus

JPG -- Picture and Range Map of Species

Status: Endangered


Gray wolves can range in color from white to black although gray is the predominant color. Mature animals generally weigh from 70-115 ponds compared to the coyote usually weighing less than 35 pounds. The track of the wolf will measure about 5" long whereas a coyote's is about 3" long.

The gray wolf had the greatest distribution of any mammal other than man. It was abundant in North Dakota where it was known as the plains wolf. It has been eliminated from the lower 48 states with the exception of small populations in Wisconsin, Michigan, Montana, Idaho, and Washington. All of these wolves live in areas with low densities of roads and people. Most wolves now occupy Alaska, the Northwest Territories, and the Canadian provinces.

There have been documented sightings of wolves in North Dakota in 1985, 1990, and 1991.

Likely habitat in North Dakota would be the forested areas in the north central part of the state such as the Turtle Mountains where unconfirmed reports have been taken.

Gray wolves do not normally breed until they are three years of age. A litter will consist of six pups born in the spring. By October, they will weigh about 60 pounds and travel with the young adults for two years at which time they disperse.

Wolves usually hunt large mammals like moose and deer and key in on old, weak, or injured animals. They are territorial and will keep other wolves or coyotes out of their 50-100 square mile home range.

There are no known gray wolf attacks on humans. They will take livestock but only 1 of every 2,000 cattle was affected on one known wolf range in Minnesota. Some states have programs that pay individuals for damage to livestock.


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