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Gray Wolves are a large species of canid and are native to much of the northern hemisphere. Males may weigh in excess of 45kg (100 lbs.) with females being on average slightly smaller. The fur is typically thick, especially in the more northerly part of its range and can vary widely in color from white to black with most wolves being a grizzled gray above and lighter below.
At one time, wolves were arguably the most widespread mammal in the world, exceeded only by humans. As a result, they are considered widely adaptable animals and were once found in many different habitats ranging from tundra to desert. Their range has been widely restricted due to human persecution and habitat loss. Wolves were once considered wilderness obligates able only to live in wilderness conditions. They are, however, extremely adaptable as mentioned above and here in Minnesota have expanded their range out of the northern wilderness and are now living in close proximity to humans. For instance, we have wolf packs whose territories now well overlap agricultural zones in Minnesota and Wisconsin. It appears that they need room to roam, deer on which to prey, and less persecution as prerequisites to surviving in human-dominated areas. Some research seems to indicate that road density may play an important determinant in which wolves may live (in terms of being struck by cars and in hunting of this large predator by humans).
I took this photo while in northern Minnesota photographing black bears. I was driving back to my campsite to catch some sleep when this young wolf emerged from the forest and stood in the road. I stopped and slowly got out of my car with camera in hand. Unfortunately, it was impossible to focus in the dark and the focus is soft on this photo, plus it took me an inordinate amount of time to ratchet the ISO up to 4000 and to make other settings adjustments. I thought the wolf was alone, but when I got home and uploaded the photos the "eyeshine" of another wolf is visible in the upper right of the photo. Ironically, I took this photo one year ago today.