The Wolf

Alaska’s Big Five: 

 

The wolf, Canis lupus, has two distinct subspecies in Alaska.  Wolves in Southeast Alaska tend to be somewhat darker in color, and smaller physically than their northern Alaska counterparts.  Gray or black wolves are the most common, but pelts can be black to near white, with every shade of gray and tan in between.

The adult, male wolves of Interior Alaska normally weigh between 85-115 pounds.  Officially, the largest male wolf from Alaska was 179 lbs., although there have been claims of wolves over 200.  Females weigh 10-15 pounds less than the males, but rarely weigh more than 110 lbs.

Being social animals, wolves tend to live in packs.  On average a pack contains 6-8 wolves, although they can reach numbers much higher than that.  Moose and caribou make up the majority of their diet, although squirrels, rabbits, beaver, birds and fish will supplement their diet.  In Southeast Alaska, wolves primary prey are Sitka Black-tailed deer, mountain goat, beaver and salmon in season.

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Photo credit: Claire Dal Nogare, Flickr; Park Ranger Denali NP&P

Normally, one female in a pack has a liter of 4-6 pups in a year, on average.  Mortality rate is extremely high for the pups.  Few will make it to adulthood.  The lifespan for an Interior Alaskan wolf is 4-10 years, with the oldest known at 12 years old.

The wolf population is estimated to be between 7000-11,000 in Alaska, with a range that covers 85% of the state.  The population has never been declared threatened or endangered in Alaska.  Population density can vary greatly due to food source availability.

 

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About icefogger

Just a basic, down to Earth, laid back type of guy here, who loves the outdoors, the indoors, jazz on the turntable, a fire in the woodstove, the northern lights blazing across the sky, and the company of good friends. View all posts by icefogger

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