Eastern Wolf (canis lupus lycaon)

Eastern wolf, also called the Algonquin Wolf, is what it claims to be, a wolf of the east. It is chocolate-yellow in coat color and possesses several natural gray-brown tones inside. 

The wolf of the east has a checkered past that began in Ontario, Canada. 

Since their discovery in 1963, there are a great number of opinions as to what an Eastern Wolf is. Some argue that they are a mixture of coyotes and grey wolves while others argue that they are actual wolves.

Even when the wolves have been called both coyotes and wolves, they’re still more accurately called Eastern wolves. The only difference between the Eastern Wolf and the Gray Wolf is their size. With an average length of 39-71 inches, these wolves have a much smaller appearance than the body of a Gray Wolf. They are also smaller than Coyotes. Although some can weigh as much as 50-65 lbs.

Few things can deter the most curious of minds. But with this article, we will answer all your questions about the eastern wolf.

Here’s some quick fact about Eastern Wolves:

  • Ontario is home to the majority of the global range for the Algonquin Wolf. It is also found in Quebec.
  • Eastern wolves have been known to respond to imitations of their howls since the observation in 1963.
  • In Algonquin mythology, the wolf is referred to as Ma-hei-gan or Nah-poo-tee.
  • Algonquin Provincial Park, located in Ontario, Canada, is home to the Algonquin wolf.


The Eastern Wolf is a distinct species. Even though many people mistake it for a subspecies of the Gray Wolf or the Red Wolf. Science has been able to prove that it is closely related to them but not at that level. This is a small to medium-sized wolf with a light brown or reddish coat. They are very close in appearance to the well-loved Husky dogs of Alaska as well. They also have some longer hairs found in the coat that are usually black. As Eastern Wolf gets older, they will develop more of these long black hairs. They are often mistaken for coyotes due to their coloring and their build.


Most of them are found throughout Canada as well as in the United States around Mississippi. Today many of them live as refugees in North Carolina. This is the result of a reintroduction plan that has been very successful so far with this type of wolf as well as several others.

The most common location of Canada where you will find the Eastern Wolf is around the Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. They do have very large home ranges that they follow. It is believed that many packs of Eastern Wolves follow the migration of the White Tail Deer as a way to make sure they have plenty to eat, especially in the winter months.

Eastern wolf in the wild

The eastern wolf is a shy, elusive, and largely nocturnal animal, and most active at dawn and dusk. Eastern wolf is elusive and displays many traits in common with coyotes, dogs, and wolves. Many features of the canid family are shared by the three species, such as the function of their teeth and jaws, their upright stance, a thick tail for communication purposes, as well as the behaviors involved in hunting. 

The Eastern wolf lives in packs. Each pack, or clan, has its own home range that overlaps with the ranges of other clans. A pack has about six to eight animals, usually a mated pair and their offspring from previous years. The parents take care of most of the pups by themselves after they leave the den for the first time at about four weeks old.

Eastern wolves are excellent hunters. They use a variety of strategies to catch prey. Wolves can, for example, track herd animals by their tracks and lay in wait so that they attack at an opportune moment. They often hunt by chasing prey until they are exhausted and then running them down. They also sometimes use the “still hunting” method, staking out a large area and walking in very slowly, stopping frequently to listen and smell for prey. Once they find it, they bite it behind the ears or on the back of the neck and flip it over onto its back. They can run as fast as 70 kilometers.


The Eastern wolf can be found in the wild with packs of other wolves. They are considered socially intelligent. These wolves are very dependent upon the social aspects of their pack. They are quite loyal to each other and will do all they can to keep other packs of wolves out of their territory. The wolf pack primarily consists of a mated pair, their offspring from the current year. And occasionally, one or two adult offspring from the past year with no established territory. 

Teamwork is the only way to ensure their success when hunting prey. This is why you will often hear them howling frequently out there in the wild. They are most active at night, but they can also be seen out during the day. They communicate with howls, barks, and growls.


The Eastern Wolf can consume a diverse type of diet. Sometimes they will hunt on their own. Most of the time, they will hunt with their pack. Some of the items they hunt alone include rodents, beaver, and muskrat. Those animals that they hunt with their packs include deer and moose.

In some instances, they have even been able to successfully kill a Black Bear. While the young are fed regurgitated food like other wolves, the pack doesn’t leave some adults behind to protect them. Instead, the pups are placed into a dent or hidden location to keep them safe until the rest of the pack returns. A free-ranging youth can be exposed to a lot of risks. Out on its own, its chances of succumbing to predators are high.


The alpha and the beta will mate in February, with the young being born about two months later. The female will retreat into a den and not come out until her pups are a couple of months old. She can have from 4 to 7 pups per litter.

The Eastern Wolf has been known to mate with different types of coyotes in their areas. This is a concern because it can affect the overall genetics of this particular species of wolf. This type of behavior is interesting because most species of wolves will aggressively run off coyotes.


Eastern wolves have a complex conservation history. Before being reintroduced into the wild, they were nearly extirpated through the predator-control programs of the early 20th century. 

Today, this species is protected under both provincial and federal laws. It was also listed as endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act in 2002, which provided the animal with further protection.

Most of the conservation efforts for eastern wolves are carried out by the Coalition to Restore the Eastern Wolf, commonly referred to as CREW. Their goal is to ultimately increase the number of Eastern Wolves residing in the United States.

Human interaction

There have been quite a few problems in Canada due to the Eastern Wolf getting into livestock areas and killing them. As a way of retaliating, many farmers and ranchers have started to hunt them even though it is illegal. Others are believed to be intentionally laying poison where these wolves will find it.


With an average life expectancy of 3-4 years, eastern wolves typically outlive similar-sized dogs. However, wolves are very social animals, and their lifestyle typically involves more activity. They will naturally have a shorter lifespan than an equivalent dog living in a controlled indoor environment.


  1. Are eastern wolves dangerous?

Eastern wolves are not inherently dangerous and should not be treated as such. Eastern wolves are very elusive and do not frequently come into contact with humans. With eastern wolves, it all depends on how you look at them. The truth is that humans aren’t on the menu, but they are dangerous in the sense that they can be unpredictable — just like most wild animals. Young, curious pups may chase pets and fight with dogs.

  1. Can Eastern wolves be domesticated?

The wild nature of eastern wolves is likely to prevent them from being fully domesticated. It is possible to train this subspecies of the wolf to follow simple directions, but they are much more likely to keep their wild instincts. The term “domestic” refers to animals that have been raised with people and are familiar with humans.

  1. How do I differentiate a Grey wolf from an Eastern wolf?

Grey wolves and Eastern wolves are both grey mammals. The eastern wolf is smaller than the gray wolf and has black legs with fur covering its eyes. They have a slim and long body with a tail length a little longer than their body height. Their tails are usually curled upwards towards their back in an S-shape curve. The ears are broader with rounded tips, the legs are sturdier, and the muzzle is shorter. The fur on an Eastern wolf is denser than on grey wolves. In winter, it is usually gray, except for the belly that remains white with dark irregularly shaped spots.

  1. Where are eastern wolves mainly found in Canada?

An eastern wolf is like a western coyote. Once spread widely throughout the Great Lakes and eastern Canada, as well as parts of the U.S., populations have declined in recent years – particularly after wolves were almost wiped out in the mid-1900s. Now, eastern wolves exist mainly in Algonquin Provincial Park and on the Eastern coast of James Bay, Quebec.

  1. Are Eastern Wolves the same as timber wolves?

No, Eastern wolves are NOT the same as timber wolves. Researchers have found that these two wolf populations are genetically unique and not closely related. However, they are both members of the larger group of wolves called Canis lupus. In the past, Eastern wolves were mistakenly called grey wolves because their fur had a greying or “tipping” appearance. Compared to other subspecies of Canis lupus like the red fox that tipped with white. The “Eastern wolf” is currently considered a separate species altogether at Canis lycaon.

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