Species At Risk

Eastern Wolf

(Canis lupus lycaon)

Special Concern

Eastern Wolf


The Eastern Wolf is a member of the dog family, a distinct form of the wolf living in central Ontario and western Quebec. The Eastern Wolf is smaller than other subspecies of Grey Wolf in Canada – about 60 to 68 centimetres tall at the shoulders and weighing 25 to 30 kilograms. It typically has a reddish-brown muzzle, and is reddish-brown behind the ears and on the lower legs, with a black, white, and grey back. Prior to European contact the Eastern Wolf and the Red Wolf (Canis rufus) were likely the same species and part of the same continuous distribution. Owing to near extirpation, habitat fragmentation, hybridization with the Coyote (and Grey Wolf), and genetic drift, the Eastern Wolf and Red Wolf exhibit clear genetic differences and their con-specific (belonging to the same species) status is now debatable.

The Eastern Wolf lives in packs, typically numbering three to six animals which generally consist of an unrelated breeding pair and their pups from previous litters. Each pack has a home range that is defended from neighbouring packs.

Action we are taking:


There are probably fewer than 500 Eastern Wolf in Canada, with most living in central Ontario and western Quebec, and with the highest population densities found in Algonquin Provincial Park.


The Eastern Wolf lives in forests – deciduous and mixed forests in the southern part of their range, and mixed and coniferous forests further north. Wolf packs require relatively large areas of unbroken forest, with home ranges as large as 500 square kilometres.


The Eastern Wolf has disappeared from almost all of southern Ontario, largely as a result of loss of habitat through forest clearance and farmland development. Hybridization could also be a potential long-term threat to the genetic integrity of Eastern Wolf populations.


The Eastern Wolf is listed as a species of Special Concern under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. Although species of Special Concern do not receive legal protection under this act, this species is protected under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. Wolves cannot be hunted in provincial parks and Crown Game Preserves, including Algonquin Provincial Park, the largest protected area for the Eastern Wolf. Hunting and trapping of wolves is also banned in the townships around Algonquin Provincial Park.

To help ensure the long term sustainability of wolves in Ontario, as part of a balanced and diverse ecosystem, the Ministry of Natural Resources released Ontario’s Wolf Conservation Strategy in 2005. At the same time, some wolf and coyote hunting restrictions (i.e. shortened hunting season, limited harvest opportunities) were implemented.

What You Can Do to Help the Eastern Wolf

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Eastern Wolf. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species recovery. You may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.

Did you know?

Eastern Wolves prey primarily on white-tailed deer and moose.

Did you know?

Genetic testing of Eastern Wolves has shown that they contain both Red Wolf and Coyote genes.

Did you know?

Biologists believe wolves use howling for a variety of functions. The single howl may be used to keep in contact with other members of the pack while spread out and not in visual contact. A pack howl is probably used to defend a pack's territory from possible intruders. Wolves may also howl as part of maintaining the unity of the pack.

Did you know?

In Algonquin Provincial Park, collars with global positioning system (GPS) technology are attached to several animals, allowing researchers to collect locations where the wolves have been, as well as other information such as temperature, animal activity and even sound. For more information, visit:www.sbaa.ca/projects.asp?cn=314.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.