Promoting wolf conservation since 1999

Eastern (Algonquin) Wolf Information


Eastern Wolf (Algonquin Wolf) Description:

» Scientific Name: Canis lycaon (According to recent genomic research, eastern wolves, previously considered a subspecies of gray wolf, Canis lupus lycaon, actually represent a separate species.)

» Status in Canada: Threatened. 

» Status in Ontario: "Threatened" means the species lives in the wild in Ontario, is not endangered, but is likely to become endangered if steps are not taken to address factors threatening it.

Name Change: Eastern Wolf renamed "Algonquin Wolf"on June 14, 2016

» The Eastern Wolf was listed as special concern when the Endangered Species Act took effect in 2008, and was renamed Algonquin Wolf and re-classified as threatened on June 15, 2016. Status assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and by the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO) refer to the same taxonomic entity (group of animals). However, COSSARO concluded that Eastern Wolf is no longer the appropriate common name. Although there was once a distinct species called Eastern Wolves, a long history of hybridization among Eastern Wolves, Grey Wolves, and Coyotes, has led to a hybrid taxon that is evolutionarily distinct from other canids. As a result, COSSARO believes that a new name, the Algonquin Wolf, is most appropriate. 

» Read the assessment report.

Season Closures for Hunting and Trapping Wolf and Coyote

» September 15, 2016, the very day Ontario's hunting and trapping seasons opened, the Ontario government announced that despite the its new "threatened" status, the province is limiting protection of Algonquin wolves to three small, disconnected ‘islands’, keeping all others areas open to hunting and trapping. These islands constitute less than 10% of the wolves’ habitat in Ontario. Under Ontario's ESA, all threatened and endangered species and their habitat are automatically protected. Yet the threatened Algonquin wolves will remain unprotected from hunting and trapping in the majority of their range. 

» View Ontario's decision notices here and here.

» Threats: 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.

» Population:  Less than 500 (Most Eastern wolves live in central Ontario and western Quebec, and with the highest population densities found in Algonquin Provincial Park.)

» Weight: 55-65 pounds

» Color/Appearance: Fur is thick and can be variations of redish-brown with black and gray guard hairs.



Eastern wolves are classified as carnivores, they white-tailed deer, moose and beaver.



Eastern wolves communicate in a number of ways. They use body language, scent marking and varied vocalizations to express themselves. Ask anyone about wolf vocalizations, however, it will be the howl that comes to mind. Howling helps keep family members (or pack-mates) together. Because a pack territory range over sometimes vast areas, it’s not unusual for members of the pack to become separated from one another. Wolves can call to one another over great distances by howling. A howl’s low pitch and long duration is well suited for transmission on the wild landscape – a wolf’s howl can be heard miles away in open terrain. Free Public Wolf Howl Programs with Park naturalists have been drawn thousands fo tourists from around the world to Algonquin Provincial Park, the stronghold of eastern wolves, to hear the the howl of these elusive wolves. Wolves have been known to respond to human imitations of wolf howls from almost 3 miles away.



The Eastern wolf lives in forests – deciduous and mixed forests in the southern part of their range, and mixed and coniferous forests further north. Home ranges can be as large as 300+ square miles.


Family Life:

Eastern wolves live in family packs, typically consisting of an unrelated breeding pair and their pups from previous litters. Average pack saize is three to six animals. 


Portions excerpted from Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry website.

Photo: Steve Dunsford, Impressions of Algonquin