Nature Canada

The Algonquin Wolf

Image of Valerie Assinewe

Valerie Assinewe,
Guest Blogger

The howl of a wolf. No other sound instantly evokes that powerful sense of the wild. But there’s much more to the Algonquin Wolf than its iconic call.

Where do they live?

The Algonquin Wolf is found in the mixed coniferous-deciduous forests of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence regions of Ontario and Quebec. A pack’s territory, which is dependent on the abundance of prey, can be 500 km2. The den and rendezvous sites are always near a permanent water source.

What do they look like?

The Algonquin Wolf is considered an intermediate-sized canid weighing an average of 24 kg for females and 29 kg for males. Compared to the closest relatives, the Algonquin Wolf is larger than the Coyote and smaller than the Grey Wolf.

Their pelage (coat) tends to reddish-brown/tawny.

What do they eat?

Image of Algonquin Wolf by Erika Squires

Algonquin Wolf by Erika Squires

Deer is the primary prey of the Algonquin Wolf, but moose and beaver are secondary food sources. An opportunistic carnivore, it will predate on cow, sheep and even pets.

How do they reproduce?

Like other wolves, the Algonquin Wolf lives in family-based packs comprised of a breeding pair—the alpha male and female—and their offspring from the current and previous years. The pack leaders mate in February, and 4-7 pups are born ~63 days later.

Did you know?

  • Howling allows communication among pack members when they are apart, and warns other packs away.
  • The mother nurses pups in the den for 6-8 weeks. During this period, pack members bring her food. Once weaned, the pups are relocated to a rendezvous site where they are cared for and fed by pack members—initially regurgitated food, and eventually solid food. By autumn, the juveniles hunt with the pack.
  • An important facet of the “pack” lifestyle is cooperative hunting. Members either take turns chasing the prey to tire it, or split up a herd to ambush the selected target.

As a big game hunter, the Eastern Wolf came into conflict with farmers as they settled eastern North America. Over time, the hunting and trapping of the wolves caused the extirpation of the American population and significantly reduced the Canadian population. However, there are now wolf management regimes that protect the wolves. For example, the seasonal protection of the  Algonquin Wolf against hunting in and around Algonquin Park introduced in 1994 was extended in 2004 to a permanent ban on wolf harvest in Algonquin Park and the surrounding forty townships. In addition in May 2015, the Eastern Wolf/Algonquin Wolf was upgraded from a Threatened status to a Species of Special Concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

Along with hunting and trapping by humans, the loss of habitat due to human activity, e.g. urbanization, road networks, resource development, is the main threat to not just the Algonquin Wolf survival but to all wolves generally. You can do your part to help mitigate those threats by contributing to continuing efforts to protect the wolves and their habitats, and through your ongoing and valued support to the many conservation initiatives of Nature Canada. Human activity has brought the wolf to a point of extinction; human action can ensure that its howls continue to echo through our forests for years to come.

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