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Entry 1 of 4 1 plural also wolf a : any of several large predatory canids genus Canis that are active mostly at night, live and hunt in packs, and resemble the related dogs especially : gray wolf Note: Wolves have long been viewed as threats to livestock and people resulting in significant worldwide declines in their numbers and range size due to persistent eradication efforts as by hunting, trapping, and poisoning.
Levy, Smithsonian Magazine , "These Non-Lethal Methods Encouraged by Science Can Keep Wolves From Killing Livestock," 11 Dec. But should they?
Arambula, San Diego Union-Tribune , "An elevated riff on traditional chile verde," 16 Sep. Send us feedback. See More First Known Use of wolf Noun before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a Verb , in the meaning defined above History and Etymology for wolf Noun Middle English, from Old English wulf ; akin to Old High German wolf wolf, Latin lupus , Greek lykos Keep scrolling for more Learn More about wolf Share wolf Post the Definition of wolf to Facebook Share the Definition of wolf on Twitter Time Traveler for wolf.
See more words from the same century From the Editors at Merriam-Webster. Sly Fox, Fat Cat: Animal Names for Sly Fox, Fat Cat: Animal Names for People From 'lame duck' to 'lounge lizard' Dictionary Entries near wolf wold mouse woldsman Wolds, The wolf Wolf wolf's-head wolf's-milk.
Accessed 6 Jan. Keep scrolling for more More Definitions for wolf wolf. Entry 1 of 2 : a large wild animal that is similar to a dog and that often hunts in groups wolf.
Please tell us where you read or heard it including the quote, if possible. Test Your Vocabulary Name that Thing: Toys and Games Edition Name that thing: pente Chinese checkers go reversi Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?
Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way. See also: Attachment behaviour in wolves.
See also: Canine reproduction. Play media. Further information: List of gray wolf populations by country.
Main article: Wolves in folklore, religion and mythology. See also: List of fictional wolves. Main article: Wolves in heraldry.
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They tend to live in the remote wilderness, though red wolves prefer to live in swamps, coastal prairies and forests. Many people think wolves live only in colder climates, but wolves can live in temperatures that range from minus 70 to degrees F minus 50 to The Eastern wolf — also known as Great Lakes wolf, Eastern timber wolf, Algonquin wolf or deer wolf — has been deemed a distinct species from their Western cousins, according to a review by U.
Fish and Wildlife Service scientists. Eastern wolves used to live in the northeastern United States, but now remain only in southeastern Canada.
In , the Center Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect red wolves in the United States.
According to research published in the journal Science Advances in , though, there is only one type of wolf in North America.
DNA testing found that only gray wolves are found on the continent. The research also found that red wolves and Eastern wolves may be hybrids of grey wolves and coyotes.
Wolves hunt and travel in packs. Packs don't consist of many members, though. Usually, a pack will have only one male and female and their young.
This usually means about 10 wolves per pack, though packs as large as 30 have been recorded. Packs have a leader, known as the alpha male.
Each pack guards its territory against intruders and may even kill other wolves that are not part of their pack. Several subspecies occur throughout North America, Eurasia, and Africa; however, classifications disagree on the number of wolf subspecies.
Wolves were domesticated several thousand years ago, and selective breeding produced dogs. The wolf is built for travel.
Its long legs, large feet, and deep but narrow chest suit it well for life on the move. Keen senses, large canine teeth, powerful jaws, and the ability to pursue prey at 60 km 37 miles per hour equip the wolf well for a predatory way of life.
A typical northern male may be about 2 metres 6. Standing 76 cm 30 inches tall at the shoulder, it weighs about 45 kg pounds , but weight ranges from 14 to 65 kg 31 to pounds , depending on the geographic area.
Females average about 20 percent smaller than males. The largest wolves are found in west-central Canada, Alaska, and across northern Asia. The smallest tend to be near the southern end of their distribution the Middle East , Arabia, and India.
Fur on the upper body, though usually gray, may be brown, reddish, black, or whitish, while the underparts and legs are usually yellow-white.
Light-coloured wolves are common in Arctic regions. Early human societies that hunted for survival admired the wolf and tried to imitate its habits, but in recent centuries the wolf has been widely viewed as an evil creature, a danger to humans especially in Eurasia , a competitor for big game animals, and a threat to livestock.
Depredation of livestock was the primary justification for eradicating the wolf from virtually all of the United States, Mexico, and most of Europe.
Wolves in the United States were killed by every method imaginable in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and by they remained only in the northeastern corner of Minnesota.
In the late 20th century, greater tolerance, legal protection, and other factors allowed their range to expand in portions of North America and Europe.
Wolves are probably more popular now than at any other time in recorded history. In wolves from Canada were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and Idaho, and captive-reared Mexican wolves a subspecies were released to their former range in eastern Arizona beginning in At the beginning of the 21st century, an estimated 65,—78, wolves inhabited North America.
Canada had the largest population although the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia , and Prince Edward Island had no wolves , followed by Alaska and Minnesota.
Some of the western states as well as Michigan and Wisconsin have smaller but recovering wolf populations. Canadian wolves are protected only within provincial parks, whereas all wolves in the contiguous United States receive some level of legal protection by federal and state governments.
Populations in southern Europe and Scandinavia are relatively small but are increasing. The Eurasian population probably exceeds , and is stable or increasing in most countries, and most afford the wolf some degree of legal protection.