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How long does a gray wolf live?

Learn how long a gray wolf can live.

The gray wolf's life expectancy differs, depending on its circumstances. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
The gray wolf's life expectancy differs, depending on its circumstances.

The gray wolf (Canis lupus), also known as the timber wolf, is the largest and most widespread species of the family Canidae. The gray wolf can live in the wild for less than 10 years, but under human care up to 20 years. However, in many areas it has been hunted and killed because it is believed to pose a threat to humans and domesticated animals (cattle, sheep and reindeer).

It may soon suffer the fate of the red wolf (Canis rufus) that once flourished in the southeast and south central United States. Two of the red wolf's three subspecies are extinct, with the third subspecies found in a small area of the coastal plains and marshes of eastern Texas and western Louisiana.

The endangered gray wolf is declining fast in the Western Hemishpere. In the United States, it is limited to Alaska (10,000), northern Minnesota (1,200) and Isle Royale, Michigan (20), with perhaps a few packs in Wisconsin, northern Michigan and the Rocky Mountain area; in Canada there are 15,000.

Strongly social, living in packs and weighing between 75-175 pounds, in physical appearance the gray wolf resembles a large domestic dog such as the Alaskan malamute.

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