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For nearly 100 years, the forests of the State of Maine have seen close to none eastern timber wolves. The animals that once roamed the woods are gone and may never return. This is why in 1969 the eastern timber wolf was placed on the endangered species list. With great efforts, maybe someday, the eastern timber wolf may inhabit the woods of Maine again.
The eastern timber wolfs scientific name is Canis lupus lycaon. It is a sub-species of the Canis lupis, or Gray Wolf. Its taxonomic group is the mammal, and it is a part of the canine family. The eastern timber wolves are the largest of the canine family. Its height is from 26 to 32 inches at the shoulders. They can be 5-6.5 ft. long, and can weigh between 55-115 lbs. Eastern timber wolves come in a variety of colors. The most common are gray, black and white.
The eastern timber wolf diet includes mainly deer and moose. They also smaller animals like beaver and rabbits. When wolves were not endangered in the North East, they would help keep the larger herbivores in balance with the ecosystem, and by reducing the pressure the deer and moose place on forest, the eastern timber wolf played an important role in preserving biodiversity in the state of Maine. On average, a wolf will kill 18 deer in a year.
The eastern timber wolf is a social animal that lives in packs. A pack consists of two parents, their offspring, and a few adults that do not breed. The parents are called the alpha male and female. The alpha male is usually the largest and strongest in the pack. The two parents keep other wolves from breeding by physical harassment. The parents usually produce on litter a year, consisting of five or six pups. After the pups have matured to adults, which takes two years, they have a choice. They can either leave the pack and look for a mate, trying to start their own pack. The other option is to stay with the pack, and maybe work its way up the "dominance hierarchy" (parents at the top, non-breeding adults in the middle, and pups at the bottom.)
The eastern timber wolf is extremely territorial. A wolf pack's territory may cover from 20 to 120 square miles.
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The eastern timber wolf once ranged from the Great Lakes region to Maine and also up into Canada. Now, they have been nearly wiped out in New England and only exist in some parts of New York, Wisconsin and Minnesota. One reason for their destruction was when in the 1800's, many settlers killed the wolves to protect their farms. Another reason for their demise is the over hunting of deer and moose, which is the main food supply of the eastern timber wolf.
Since the 1970's, there has been an effort to help bring back the eastern timber wolf population. Laws have been passed to protect the wolf. In the late 90's, four sights were proposed for areas which eastern timber wolf would be put in the wild to try to increase its population in the Northeast. The sights are in Northern Maine, Southern Maine, New Hampshire, and in New York. If this project succeeds, eastern timber wolves might be removed from the endangered species list in 2002 when a new list is made.