Almost every continent of the world has a native species of wolf. They are prevalent in northern latitudes and once dominated Canada, the northern U.S., Russia, Finland, Greenland, the arctic and Siberia. Warmer climates, including the Middle East, Europe, Mexico and even Florida, also claim native wolves but these tend to be smaller in size. Today, almost all varieties of wolf are extinct or extremely endangered due to excessive hunting.
The North American Grey Wolf was once the most diverse and populous of the world’s wolves. It inhabited most of North America, including Canada and Mexico. Of the original 24 documented species of North American Grey Wolf, 5 remain in the wild and are starting to make a comeback because of the efforts of conservation organizations. Red Wolves were native to the southeastern United States and some northern areas of South America; they became extinct in the wild in 1980. The maned wolf still lives in the wild in South America and resembles a large red fox.
Europe and Asia
Eurasian wolves include the tundra wolf and the European gray wolf of the farthest northern regions of Finland, Russia and the arctic. These wolves are large in size and feed on large game animals such as deer. The Iberian wolf and the Italian wolf are native to temperate forests of Italy, Spain and Portugal. The world’s smallest wolf is from Hanshu Island, Japan. The Hanshu wolf measures only 35 inches from the nose to the tip of the tail. The Tibetan wolf is a midsize wolf native to China, Mongolia, Southern Russia and Tibet.
India and Middle East
The Indian wolf is one of the smallest, only slightly larger than the Hanshu at 40 to 60 lbs. Even though the Indian wolf shares much habitat with the Himalayan wolf, they have not interbred in 400,000 years, according to “Wolves of the World,” making them separate species. Arabia’s largest species of wolf is the 40-lb. Arabian wolf, which feeds mainly on birds, insects, lizards and small rodents. The Iranian wolf is another Middle Eastern native that lives in the desert regions of Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia.
Most of Africa is without wolves except for a few pockets in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian wolf is a very rare animal long believed to be a different type of canine. DNA evidence, according to “Wolves of the World”, suggested that the Ethiopian wolf was closer to a common grey wolf and a coyote than any other African dog. They were the second most endangered wolf until the red wolf’s extinction, when the Ethiopian wolf moved to the top of the list.