The Wolf Intelligencer


Nothwestern Wolf (Canis lupus occidentalis)

Northwestern Wolf (Canis lupus occidentalis) – (Richardson 1829)

Common Names: Mackenzie Valley wolf, Alaskan timber wolf, Canadian timber wolf, or northern timber wolf,

Overall population:

Physical description:

“C. I. Occidentalis Richardson, 1829, Mackenzie Valley wolf. This subspecies ranges from the upper Mackenzie River Valley southward into central Alberta. It represents some of the largest wolves in North America. The color of these animals varyes considerably, as the following description of fifty-nine individuals trapped in Wood Buffalo National Park (and presumably ascribable to this subspecies) shows “In color, the animals varied from black… to nearly white. The two which were lightest in color were cream-colored dorsally, and almost pure white ventrally. Thirty-four were classed as grey, although these had varying amounts of black, particularly on the dorm. Two others were predominantly light brown or buff in color, rather than grey. Twenty-one were black which usually became silvery grey on the flanks and under parts” (Fuller and Novakowski, 1955:3).”

The wolf: The Ecology and Behaviour of an Endangered Species, Natural History Press, Mech, L. David 1970

Original range – “Mackenzie River Valley southward into central Alberta.”
Current range Alaska, Unimak Island of the Aleutians, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Mackenzie River Valley, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Northwestern United States . Reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in 1995-6.,  and so – Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, then to Washngton, Oregon and California.

Habitat / Ecology / Prey:


Preymoose (Alces alces), Bison (Bison bison), Elk (Cervus canadensis), caribou (Rangifer tarandus), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Dall sheep (Ovis dalli), Sitka Black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis), mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus), beaver (Castor canadensis), salmon, vole, lemmings, ground squirrels, snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus)

Interesting behaviors:

“While interactions between wolves and black bears and wolves and grizzlybears appear to be relatively common (see Palomares and Caro,1999), wolf encounters with polar bears have rarely been documented. Ramsay and Stirling (1984) documented the killing of a polar bear cub by wolves in northern Manitoba. The adult female, like the one we observed, was accompanied by two cubs, and presumably one was separated from its mother, leaving her unable to protect it. In contrast to our observation, however, the entire cub was consumed. Derocher and Stirling (1996) mention three additional instances implicating wolves in cub mortality in western Hudson Bay, but do not document the circumstances. Our observation of cub predation, on the sea ice and in a separate geographic location, suggests that predation of polar bear cubs may occur wherever wolves and polar bears are sympatric.”

Wolf (Canis lupus) Predation of a Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) Cub on the Sea Ice off Northwestern Banks Island, Northwest Territories, Canada. RICHARDSON E, ANDRIASHEK D. ARCTIC. 2006 Sep

Legal and Cultural Background:

Alaska Wildlife Alliance (Alaska)
Wolf Song of Alaska  (Alaska)
Cascadia Wildlands (Eugene, Oregon; Cordova, Alaska)
Wolves – Environment Alaska
Raincoast Conservation Foundation
Pacific Wild (Denny Island BC, Canada)
Alberta Wilderness Association
Alberta Wilderness Association
Conservation Northwest (Bellingham, Seattle, Washington)
Pacific Wolf Coalition (Washington, Oregon, California)
Gifford Pinchot Task Force (Vancouver, WA)
Washington Chapter Sierra Club (Washington State)
Pacific Wolf Coalition (Washington State, Oregon, California)
Cascadia Wildlands (Eugene, Oregon; Cordova, Alaska)
Predator Defense (Eugene, Oregon)

Taxonomic/Genetic Information:


Further Reading

Journal Articles / Scientific Publications:

Acute granulocytic anaplasmosis in a captive timber wolf (Canis lupus occidentalis); M Leschnik, G Kirtz, Z Virányi, W Wille-Piazzai… – Journal of Zoo and …, 2012 –

Table listing the 1996 Northwestern wolves introduced into Idaho.  2002

Gray wolf restoration in the northwestern United States. Bangs E, Fontaine J, Jimenez M, Meier T, Niemeyer C, Smith D, Murphy K, Guernsey D, Handegard L, Collinge M, Krischke R. USDA National Wildlife Research Center-Staff Publications. 2001 Jul

Notes on breeding Timber wolves Canis lupus occidentalis at Dresden Zoo;W GENSCH – International Zoo Yearbook, 1968 – Wiley Online Library

The timber wolf in the Rocky Mountain national parks of Canada. Cowan IM. Canadian Journal of Research. 1947 Oct

The names of the large wolves of northern and western North America; GS Miller – 1912 –


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