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Sunday, 13 October 2019

Grey Wolf

The wolf (Canis lupus), also known as the gray/grey wolf, is a canine native to the wilderness and remote areas of Eurasia and North America. It is the largest extant member of its family, with males averaging 43–45 kg (95–99 lb) and females 36–38.5 kg (79–85 lb). It is distinguished from other Canis species by its larger size and less pointed features, particularly on the ears and muzzle. Its winter fur is long and bushy and predominantly a mottled gray in color, although nearly pure white, red and brown to black also occur. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed., 2005), a standard reference work in zoology, recognises 38 subspecies of C. lupus.
The wolf is the most specialized member of the genus Canis in the direction of cooperative big game hunting, as demonstrated by its morphological adaptations to tackling large prey, its more gregarious nature, and its highly advanced expressive behavior. It is nonetheless closely related enough to smaller Canis species, such as the coyote and golden jackal, to produce fertile hybrids. It is the only species of Canis to have a range encompassing both Eurasia and North America, and originated in Eurasia during the Pleistocene, colonizing North America on at least three separate occasions during the Rancholabrean. It is a social animal, travelling in nuclear families consisting of a mated pair, accompanied by the pair's adult offspring. The wolf is typically an apex predator throughout its range. It feeds primarily on large wild ungulates, though it also eats smaller animals, livestock, carrion, and garbage. A seven-year-old wolf is considered to be relatively old, and the maximum lifespan is about 16 years.
The global wolf population is estimated to be 300,000. The wolf is one of the world's best-known and most-researched animals, with probably more books written about it than any other wild species. It has a long history of association with humans, having been despised and hunted in most pastoral communities because of its attacks on livestock, while conversely being respected in some agrarian and hunter-gatherer societies. Although the fear of wolves is pervasive in many human societies, the majority of recorded attacks on people have been attributed to animals suffering from rabies. Non-rabid wolves have attacked and killed people, mainly children, but this is rare, as wolves are relatively few, live away from people, and have developed a fear of humans from hunters and shepherds.
The wolf population in Europe is divided along a north-south axis and forms five major clusters. Three clusters occupy Italy, the Dinaric-Balkans, and the Carpathians. Another two clusters occupy north-central Europe and the Ukrainian steppe. The Italian wolf consisted of an isolated population with low genetic diversity. Wolves from Croatia, Bulgaria, and Greece form the Dinaric-Balkans cluster. Wolves from Finland, Latvia, Belarus, Poland and Russia form the north-central Europe cluster, with wolves from the Carpathians cluster coming from a mixture of wolves from the north-central cluster and the Dinaric-Balkans cluster. The wolves from the Carpathians are more similar to the wolves from the Pontic-Caspian Steppe than they are to wolves from north-central Europe. These clusters may be the result of their expansions from glacial refugia, an adaptation to local environments, or landscape fragmentation and the killing of wolves in some areas by humans.The population structure of East Asian wolves includes the three main groups of northern Asia, southern China, and Tibetan.
Wolves move around their territory when foraging using the same trails for extended periods. After snowfalls, the wolves find their old trails and continue using them. The trails follow the banks of rivers, the shorelines of lakes, through ravines overgrown with shrubs or through plantations, and following roads and human paths.Wolves are nocturnal predators in both summer and winter. During the winter a pack will commence hunting in the twilight of early evening and will hunt all night, travelling tens of kilometres. Sometimes hunting for wild ungulates occurs during the day. During the summer, wolves generally tend to hunt individually, ambushing their prey and rarely giving pursuit.
Like all land mammals that are pack hunters, the wolf predominantly feeds on herbivorous mammals that have a body mass similar to that of the combined mass of the pack members.The wolf specializes in preying on the vulnerable individuals of large prey with a pack of timber wolves being capable of bringing down a 500 kg (1,100 lb) moose. Wolves can digest their meal in a few hours and can feed several times in one day, making quick use of large quantities of meat. A well-fed wolf stores fat under the skin, around the heart, intestines, kidneys, and bone marrow, particularly during the autumn and winter.
Across their range, wolves predominantly feed on wild ungulates that can be divided into large size 240–650 kg (530–1,430 lb) and medium size 23–130 kg (51–287 lb). The variation in diet between wolves living on different continents is based on the different varieties of ungulate species and of smaller and domestic prey that are available. In North America, the wolf's diet is dominated by wild large ungulates and medium-sized mammals. In Asia and Europe, their diet is dominated by wild medium sized ungulates and domestic species. The wolf depends on wild ungulates, and if these are not readily available, as in Asia, the wolf is more reliant on domestic species. Across Eurasia, wolves prey mostly on moose, red deer, roe deer and wild boar. In North America, important prey rangewide are elk, moose, caribou, white-tailed deer and mule deer.
Although wolves primarily feed on medium to large sized ungulates, they are not fussy eaters. Smaller sized animals that may supplement the diet of wolves include rodents, hares, insectivores and smaller carnivores. They frequently eat waterfowl and their eggs. When such foods are insufficient, they prey on lizards, snakes, frogs, and large insects as available. Wolves in northern Minnesota prey on northern pike in freshwater streams.The diet of coastal wolves in Alaska includes 20 percent salmon, while coastal wolves in British Columbia includes 25 percent marine sources and those on the nearby islands 75 percent.
In Europe, wolves eat apples, pears, figs, mellons, berries and cherries. In North America, wolves eat blueberries and raspberries. Wolves also eat grass, which may provide some vitamins. They are known to eat the berries of mountain ash, lily of the valley, bilberries, cowberry, nightshade, grain crops, and the shoots of reeds.
In times of scarcity, wolves will readily eat carrion. In Eurasian areas with dense human activity, many wolf populations are forced to subsist largely on livestock and garbage. The prey animals of North American wolves have largely continued to occupy suitable habitats with low human density, and cases of wolves subsisting largely on garbage or livestock are exceptional. Cannibalism is not uncommon in wolves during harsh winters, when packs often attack weak or injured wolves, and may eat the bodies of dead pack members.

 

(latin. Canis lupus)

Sunday, 13 October 2019
created by: Marek Sarvas