Udpated August 2005
The Rocky Mountain wolf (Canis lupus occidentalis) is also sometimes called the Alaskan or Mackenzie Valley wolf. This subspecies inhabits parts of the western United States, much of western Canada, and Alaska, including Unimak Island in the Aleutians, and is the subspecies which was reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park (YNP) and central Idaho.
Legal shooting and trapping of wolves occurs throughout Alaska. Over the past decade 11 to 20 percent of Alaska's wolf population has been harvested each year. Studies indicate that wolves could sustain an annual harvest of 30 to 40 percent without decreasing the population. The wolf population in Alaska is estimated at 7,500-11,000 wolves. The population in the northern Rocky Mountains (Greater Yellowstone Area, NW Montana and Idaho) is estimated to be around 800 and increasing.
The Rocky Mountain wolf has a coat of black, white, gray, tan, and even blue-ish. Gray or black wolves are the most common. Wolves typically stand about 30 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 85 and 115 pounds, although they can weigh as much as 145 pounds.
Pack sizes are generally 6-12 wolves, with some packs as large as 20-30 with one in YNP documented at 37. Territory size in Alaska averages 600 square miles. Wolf packs in YNP average 9.2 wolves with an average territory of 348 square mile, while wolf packs in Idaho average 11.1 and 364 square mile territories.
The prey base of the Rocky Mountain wolf is moose, bison, elk, caribou, Dall sheep, Sitka black-tailed deer, mountain goats, beaver, salmon, vole, lemmings, ground squirrels and snowshoe hare.
USFWS Mountain-Prairie Region
Timber Wolf Alliance. Wolves: An American Native. Ashland, Wisconsin: Northland College; 1998.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Wolves in Alaska. Juneau, Alaska: Alaska Department of Fish and Game; 1993.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game. About Wolves in Alaska. Juneau, Alaska: Alaska Department of Fish and Game; 1993.
USFWS Rocky Mountain Recovery 1999 Annual Report