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Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat


Circumpolar range

  • Most widely distributed land mammal, prior to human transport (Mech and Boitani 2003; Mech and Boitani 2010)
    • Extant in nearly 70 countries on 4 continents
  • 75oN to 12oN latitude
    • Primarily in wilderness and remote areas
  • Largest numbers in northern regions
    • Primarily Canada and Russia
    • Migrant wolves from Russia sustain populations in surrounding regions (Harrington and Paquet 1982)

Sub-specific distributions

  • North America (Nowak 2003)
    • Arctic wolf (C. lupus arctos): extreme northern Canada; Greenland
    • Eastern wolf (C. lupus lycaon): southeastern Canada near the eastern Great Lakes
    • Mexican wolf (C. lupus baileyi): southern Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas; Mexico
    • Northwestern wolf (C. lupus occidentalis): Alaska, portions of Montana; western Canada
    • Plains wolf (C. lupus nubilus): western and central U.S.; eastern Canada
  • Eurasia (Nowak 2003)
    • Arabian wolf (C. lupus arabs): Arabian peninsula
    • Indian/Desert wolf (C. lupus pallipes): Middle East west through the Indian sub-continent
    • Tundra wolf (C. lupus albus): northern Siberia
    • Russian wolf (C.lupus communis): north-central Asia
    • Caspian Sea wolf (C.lupus cubanensis): Caucus region
    • C. lupus hodophilax: northern Japan, extinct
    • C. lupus hattai: southern Japan, extinct
    • Italian wolf (C. lupus italicus): Italian peninsula
    • Egyptian wolf (C. lupus lupaster): Egypt
    • Eurasian wolf (C. lupus lupus): widespread through central Eurasia

Regions where extinct or possibly extinct

  • Japan
  • Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland, United Kingdom
    • Very few individuals in Austria and Switzerland
  • Bangladesh

Habitat generalist

  • Forests, prairies, tundra, deserts, and swamps (Harrington and Paquet 1982; Mech and Boitani 2003)
  • Not only in remote regions: found near large cities, such as Rome, Italy (Harrington and Paquet 1982)

Temperature range

  • -56o to +50o C (-70o to +120o F) (Mech and Boitani 2003)

Mexican Wolf (C.l. baileyi)


  • Southern Arizona, New Mexico, and southwestern Texas to mountains of south-central Mexico (78 FR 35664 2013; Kelly et al. 2001; McBride 1980)
  • United States
    • Extinct in the wild by mid-1900's (78 FR 35664 2013)
    • Last wild refuges were in the Sierra Madre Mountains, in the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Durango (McBride 1980)
    • Reintroduced populations within the United States; releases began in the late 1990s
      • 1998 - Blue Range Wolf Recovery Areas (BRWRA), located west of the Arizona-New Mexico border
        • Population increased to c. 50 individuals by 2004
        • Currently > 131 individuals (as of Aug 2019) (USFWS 2019)
  • Mexico
    • Extinct in the wild by the mid-1980's

Habitat (McBride 1980; USFWS webpage)

  • Mountain woodlands preferred
  • Not found in the low desert
  • Recovery area (BRWRA) encompasses the Apache and Gila National Forests

Distribution Map

Grey wolf distribution map
Gray wolf distribution.

Adapted from according to IUCN fact sheet. Click here or on map for detailed distribution (IUCN).

Page Citations

78 FR 35664 (2013)
Harrington and Paquet  (1982)
Kelly et al. (2001)
McBride (1980)
Mech and Boitani (2003, 2010)
Nowak (2003)
USFWS webpage

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