There are two species of wolves in North America. The smaller red wolf (canis rufus) was once found throughout the southeastern United States. By the late 1960's, their numbers had dwindled to small populations in Texas and Louisiana and they could not find enough mates of their own species they started interbreeding with coyotes. The US fish and wildlife Service captured a number of animals and selected ones they believed to be pure red wolves. They started a captive breeding program to increase their numbers, and then reintroduced red wolves in the Alligator River National Park in southern Tennessee.

The larger gray wolf (canis lupus) can actually range in color from almost pure black to almost completely white, and ofter is golden brown, but the individual guard hairs are banded light-dark-light-dark. this is called agouti banding, and is found in a number of wild species.

there are a number of different races or subspecies of gray wolf living in various terrain from the frozen tundra of the Arctic wolves to the dense forests where wolves live in Minnesota, and even in the mountainous southwest, where the Mexican wolf (canis lupus baileyi) once lived.

Most adult male wolves weigh between 80 to 110, with females usually weighing 10 to 20 pounds less. They may stand up to 32 inches high at the shoulder, and are often 6 to 6 1/2 feet from nose to tail. They usually weigh 15 to 20 pounds more in the winter than in the summer dues to a heavier fur coat, among other things.

wolves are social animals, living together in family groups called paackes. In order to live together peacefully, they have an elaborate system of rank order.Low-ranking wolves must defer or submit to higher-ranking ones, this keeps order within the pack and minimizes fighting.

Each pack has a top male, called the alpha male, who submits to no one and to whom all the other males defer. Likewise, there is an alpha female, to whom all other females must submit. Next in rank to the alphas are the beta male and beta female. For each gender, very wolf has a rank or place in line where they must submit to anyone higher than they are, but can bully or dominate the wolves lower in rank. At the bottom there is an omega male and omega female. These wolves have no one under them and may be harassed to the point where they disperse, or leave the pack. If they are very lucky and find a mate, and if there is enough territory available for them, they might be able to start a new pack of their own.

Whithin the pack, wolves will costantly demonstrate their rank. When two wolves in the pack meet, the higher-ranking one will show aggression and confidence by raising its tail. putting its ears forward, lifting its lips in a snarl, and making itself look as big and threatening as possible. The hackles, the fur along the top of its back, will go up automatically when a wolf is threatening alower-ranking one. The subordinate, or lower-ranking wolf, tries to make itself look small and non-threatenin. its tail will be tucked under its belly, ers laid back flat, and it will roll over and submit to the higher-ranking wolf, licking its muzzle and "letting it know that it's boss". In almost all cases, this ritual substitutes for actual fighting. If wolves often fought and hurt each other, they might be too injured to be able to hunt and survive.

Wolves are very shy animals, and are afraid of people, avoiding us whenever possible. Even though people are expanding into the few remaining areas where wolves are found in large numbers, there has *never* been a documented case of a healthy wild wolf deliberately attacking a person in North America.

In the United States, both red and gray wolves are listed as an endangered species, except in Minnesotaa where the gray wolf is listed as threatended, and in Alaska where the gray wolf is not currently listed at all.

Of all the subspecies of gray wolves, the Mexican wolf is the most endangered. Unlike many animals whose decline was due mostly to habitat loss from human settlement, the Mexican wolf was the target of a deliberate trapping and poisoning campaign carried out in the early part of the 20th century by the federal government, which considered them pests. This has been the fate of many subspecies of gray wolves and has resulted in their status as endangered in many areas.