The Arctic wolf's survival is a long-term concern

The IUCN classifies the Arctic wolf as Near Threatened. The reduction of its natural habitat, climate change and consequent global warming are the greatest threats to the survival of this beautiful specimen.

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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The Arctic wolf's survival is a long-term concern

The Arctic wolf can still be found throughout its native range. In fact this is due to the fact that in its natural habitat men are encountered only very rarely. The IUCN classifies the Arctic wolf as Near Threatened. The reduction of its natural habitat, climate change and consequent global warming are the greatest threats to the survival of this beautiful specimen.

The White Wolf Sanctuary is an Arctic wolf refuge located in Tidewater, Oregon. The average wolf population at the sanctuary is 8-10 per 40 acres, and these animals also include some injured, sick, or abandoned individuals who have been rescued.

Normally, only the alpha male and female are allowed to mate, but in large herds other specimens can also do so. Because of the permafrost soil of the Arctic and the difficulty of burrowing in it, Arctic wolves often use rocky outcrops, caves, or any shallow depressions as dens; the mother gives birth to two to three pups in late May and early June, about a month later than the gray wolves.

The Arctic wolf's survival is a long-term concern

It is generally believed that the number of pups lower than the average of 4 or 5 of gray wolves is due to the scarcity of prey in the Arctic. They are born after about 63 days.

Cubs stay with their mother for 2 years. Arctic wolves, like all wolves, hunt in packs; they mainly prey on musk oxen, but also kill large numbers of arctic hares and lemmings, as well as other smaller animals. Their common prey is also moose.

Their long legs make these animals slower, which, in soft snow, can also become trapped, thus becoming vulnerable to attacks by wolf packs. Due to the scarcity of grazing plants, these animals are forced to roam over areas as large as 2,600 km² to find prey and follow the migrating caribou south during the winter.

Recent footage from a BBC documentary shows that Arctic wolves also hunt ducks. Arctic wolves are generally smaller than gray wolves, having roughly 1.5 to 1.8 m in length including tail. Males are larger than females. Their height at the withers varies between 63/79 cm; arctic wolves are more robust than gray wolves and often weigh more than 45kg.

Adult males reach weights of up to 70kg, females 45/50kg. Arctic wolves usually have small ears, which helps them retain body heat. Their life expectancy is generally between 7-10 years.