The eastern timber wolf (Canis lupus lycaon) was the first subspecies
of the gray wolf, Canis lupus, to be recognized in the United
States. Canis lupus lycaon inhabited the eastern portions
of the United States and southeastern parts of Canada. Like all
wolves, the eastern timber wolf is a very social animal which communicates
using body language, scent marking, and vocalization.
The eastern timber wolf was virtually exterminated by the early
1900s throughout its historic range in the northeastern United States.
Although there are unconfirmed sightings of wolves in Vermont and
Maine, and a confirmed shooting of a wolf in Maine in 1993, there
is no evidence of breeding activity in the region.
The northeastern United States provides suitable wolf habitat with
over 26 million acres of northern forest from Adirondack State Park
in Upstate New York through the North Woods of Maine. In fact, the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 1992 Eastern Timberwolf Recovery
Plan identified Adirondack State Park and 2 areas of New England
as possible recovery areas for this subspecies. Despite the availability
of habitat and prey, natural recolonization is unlikely due to many
landscape barriers, including the St. Lawrence Seaway and extensive
A study recently completed by the Conservation Biology Institute
(CBI) in Corvallis, Oregon determined that Adirondack Park could
hold a small population of wolves, but they recommended that a wolf
reintroduction program for the Adirondacks not be pursued at this
time. The reason for this recommendation is that they were concerned
about the long-term viability of a wolf population in this area
and the possibility that eastern timber wolves might hybridize with
coyotes. The complete results of the study can be found at
Attitudes on the reintroduction of the wolf in the northeastern
United States vary. In early 2000, Cornell completed and released
a study of residents' attitudes and beliefs on wolf recovery. Researchers
polled 422 Adirondack residents and another 501 residents from throughout
the state. They found that Adirondack residents are fairly evenly
split in their attitudes towards potential wolf restoration. The
results from this report can be obtained by calling Defenders of
Wildlife. (202) 682-9400.
Clark, Jeff. Return of the Native? Down East; November
Fascione, Nina. New York Wolf Recovery: Garnering Community Input.
International Wolf Center. Canis lupus: Meet the Gray Wolf. Ely,
Minnesota: International Wolf Center; 1996.
Timber Wolf Alliance. 1998. Wolves: An American Native. Ashland,
Wisconsin: Northland College.