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What Is the Great Plains Wolf?

A small population of Great Plains wolves can be seen around the Great Lakes.
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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 07 August 2014
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The Great Plains wolf is a subspecies of gray wolf that was once abundant in parts of North America. These animals were often perceived as dangerous, and they were nearly eradicated. It wasn't until the 1970s that the United States government passed a law protecting these animals. Today, a small population of these wolves can be found around the Great Lakes, which lie on the border of Canada and the United States. Like most other wolves, they typically hunt and live in small groups called packs, and they also have a complicated social hierarchy.

At one time, the Great Plains wolf was recognized as its own species, Canis nubilus. Today, however, the Great Plains wolf is now believed to be a subspecies of the gray wolf. Its scientific name is Canis lupus nubilus, and it is also sometimes referred to as the buffalo wolf.

The Great Plains wolf was once found all over parts of the western half of North America. It was particularly abundant in the area known as the Great Plains. This is a large semi-arid grassland east of the Rocky Mountains and west of the Mississippi River. It could also be found in Alaska and some parts of Canada.

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During the 19th century, the abundant Great Plains wolf population began to decline rapidly. These animals were thought of as very dangerous, and it was generally considered acceptable to kill Great Plains wolves. Farmers often shot or poisoned these animals because they feared the wolves would kill their livestock. By the 1920s, this wolf was almost completely wiped out, and scientists feared that they may have been extinct.

It wasn't until 1974 that the Great Plains wolf was recognized as endangered. By the end of the 1970s, the Great Plains wolf population began to increase. Today, the majority of these wolves can be found around the Great Lakes. Minnesota has the largest wolf population, with more than 3,000 Great Plains wolves.

Great Plains wolves are usually gray with white and black markings. These animals may range in color, however, depending on their habitats. Some may be brown or rust colored, for example.

The adult male Great Plains wolf can grow to be around 6 feet (1.8 meters) long. They may also weigh up to roughly 110 pounds (45.5 kilograms). Females are generally a little smaller.

Like most other types of wolves, Great Plains wolves typically live and travel in small groups known as packs. Each pack typically has one dominant male and one dominant female, known as alphas. These animals demonstrate their dominance through body language, sounds, and scent marking. As a pack, these animals will often hunt for food and raise their young.

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