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gray wolf

Fact File

Scientific Name: Canis lupus

Classification: Mammalia, Order Carnivora, Family Canidae

Identifying Characteristics

This is a large canine with a long bushy tail and large ears with a whitish belly. Its coloration is very similar to that of a coyote, but is a much larger animal. The color of the back of the wolf is a mixture of gray, brown and black. Males are typically between 66-96 cm high at the shoulders, and weigh between 27 and 45 kg – females usually weigh approximately 25% less than the males.


Although this species once ranged throughout most of North America and Mexico, it is now fairly rare in the United States with most of the individuals found in Alaska. There are still small populations in Isle Royale National Park and areas bordering Lake Superior as well as in parts of the Rocky Mountains and Cascade-Sierra Nevada Mountains. This species used to occur throughout Virginia, but is now considered extirpated from the state.

Last updated: August 18, 2023

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Species Profile Database serves as a repository of information for Virginia’s fish and wildlife species. The database is managed and curated by the Wildlife Information and Environmental Services (WIES) program. Species profile data, distribution information, and photography is generated by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, State and Federal agencies, Collection Permittees, and other trusted partners. This product is not suitable for legal, engineering, or surveying use. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources does not accept responsibility for any missing data, inaccuracies, or other errors which may exist. In accordance with the terms of service for this product, you agree to this disclaimer.