The Eastern Wolf is a smaller subspecies of wolf that is a mix between the Grey Wolf and the Coyote. They are sometimes very difficult to visually distinguish compared to the Eastern Coyote and require proper genetic data to accurately identify. Females are generally 24 kg, and males are 29 kg. They have thick fur with variations of colour, from reddish-brown to black, white, or grey. The Eastern Wolf is also sometimes referred to as the Algonquin Wolf. The Algonquin Wolf may also be a subspecies that is a cross between the Eastern Wolf, Grey Wolf, and Western Coyote, but more research needs to be done to determine if they should be their own subspecies.
The Eastern Wolf mainly preys on ungulates like moose, caribou, elk, and deer, but their primary source is white-tailed deer. They will also prey on smaller mammals like beavers. Their diet is very dependent on what is available either seasonally or regionally. While they mainly catch live prey, they have also been known to scavenge if necessary.
Biology and Behaviour:
Mating generally happens in February and pups are born in late April/ early May. The main breeding pair in the pack will give birth to 4-6 pups, but generally only 1-2 will make it to adulthood. Pups are nursed in the den for 6-8 weeks, and the whole pack will help feed and raise the pups. Food is chewed up by the adults and regurgitated into their mouths until they are old enough for solid food. Pups will start to hunt around 18 weeks of age, going with the pack to learn how to hunt as a group. Pups will be raised by the pack for 2-3 years, and then they will either disperse from the pack and try to establish themselves elsewhere, or they will remain with the pack to help raise the next litter of pups. Wolves have very slow reproduction and recruitment rates, which helps regulate populations, but can also be detrimental to populations that are struggling. While wolves do not have many predators, they are often hunted and trapped by humans, hit on roads, and impacted by starvation and disease.
The Eastern Wolf is very similar in appearance to the Eastern Coyote or the Grey Wolf. While genetic testing is needed to accurately determine the subspecies, Eastern Wolves are slightly larger than the Eastern Coyote, and slightly smaller than the Grey Wolf. Their general appearance is a cross between a coyote and a wolf. They have similar facial features to a coyote, but a larger body size like a wolf.
Conservation and recovery strategies:
While Eastern Wolves and their habitat are protected in protected areas, the most important recovery strategy would be to determine best habitat types in the undeveloped north, and protect them for wolf habitats. Since there is not much intact wilderness left, other areas should be rehabilitated and re-naturalized in order to limit the amount of fragmentation. Development should be halted in the north unless absolutely necessary.
While there are already scattered hunting and trapping bans, all hunting and trapping should be banned for the time being until populations are at a sustainable level. More research should also go into genetic analysis and how we can mitigate the threats of hybridization with the coyote. Recovery strategies should include collaboration with government, organizations, hunters and trappers, and the public.
COSEWIC. 2015. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Eastern Wolf Canis sp. cf. lycaon in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. xii + 67 pp. (Species at Risk Public Registry website).
COSSARO. 2016. Ontario Species at Risk Evaluation Report for Algonquin Wolf (Canis sp.), an evolutionarily significant and distinct hybrid with Canis lycaon, C. latrans, and C. lupus ancestry. Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO). Retrieved from: http://cossaroagency.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Accessible_COSSARO-evaluation-Algonquin-Wolf.pdf
Government of Ontario. 2021. Algonquin Wolf. Retrieved from: https://www.ontario.ca/page/algonquin-wolf
Beacon Environmental Limited and Wildlife 2000 Consulting. 2018. DRAFT Recovery Strategy for the Algonquin Wolf (Canis sp.) in Ontario. Ontario Recovery Strategy Series. Prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, 5 Peterborough, Ontario. viiii + 62 pp.https://www.ofah.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/algonquin-wolf-draft-recovery-strategy.pdf
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