occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure
The northwestern wolf (Canis lupus occidentalis), also known as the Mackenzie Valley wolf, British Columbia wolf or northern timber wolf is a subspecies of gray wolf which ranges from the upper Mackenzie River Valley, southward into central Alberta. Along with C. l. nubilus, C. l. occidentalis is the most widespread member of the five gray wolf subspecies in North America, with at least six different synonyms.
The subspecies was first written of by Scottish naturalist Sir John Richardson in 1829. He chose to give it the name occidentalis in reference to its geographic location rather than label it by its color, as it was too variable to warrant such. Phylogenetic analyses of North American gray wolves show that there are three clades corresponding to C. l. occidentalis, C. l. nubilus and C. l. baileyi, each one representing a separate invasion into North America from distinct Eurasian ancestors. C. l. occidentalis, the most northwestern subspecies, is descended from the last gray wolves to colonize North America. It likely crossed into North America through the Bering land bridge after the last ice age, displacing C. l. nubilus populations as it advanced, a process which has continued till present times.
The northwestern wolf is one of the largest gray wolves in North America, and varies greatly in color from black to pure white. The average weight of 147 wolves captured in Denali National park between 1986 and 1994 was 40 kilograms (88 lb) for females and 47 kilograms (104 lb) for males. The heaviest recorded specimen was killed on 70 Mile River in east-central Alaska on July 12, 1939 and weighed 79.4 kilograms (175 lb). Sir John Richardson described the northwestern wolf as having a more robust build than the European wolf, with a larger, rounder head and a thicker, more obtuse muzzle. Its ears are also shorter, and its fur bushier.
The northwestern wolf has been responsible for a few, but notable attacks on humans, with at least two fatal attacks in the 21st century in which both victims were partially eaten: in 2005, a man was killed in Saskatchewan, Canada, while in 2010, a woman was killed whilst jogging near Chignik Lake in Alaska.
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- Mech, L. David (1981), The Wolf: The Ecology and Behaviour of an Endangered Species, University of Minnesota Press, p. 352, ISBN 0-8166-1026-6
- Snyder, S. A. 1991. Canis lupus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [2013, November 27].
- Chambers SM, Fain SR, Fazio B, Amaral M (2012). "An account of the taxonomy of North American wolves from morphological and genetic analyses". North American Fauna 77: 1–67. Retrieved 2013-07-02.
- Richardson, J. (1829) Fauna boreali-americana, or, The zoology of the northern parts of British America, London : J. Murray [etc.], pp. 60-65
- Mech, L. D. (2003). The Wolves of Denali. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 39-40. ISBN 0816629595.
- Lopez, Barry H. (1978). Of Wolves and Men. J. M. Dent and Sons Limited. p. 18. ISBN 0-7432-4936-4.
- McNay, M. E. (2007) "A Review of Evidence and Findings Related to the Death of Kenton Carnegie on 8 November 2005 Near Points North, Saskatchewan". Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Fairbanks, Alaska.
- Butler, L., B. Dale, K. Beckmen, and S. Farley. 2011.Findings Related to the March 2010 Fatal Wolf Attack near Chignik Lake, Alaska. Wildlife Special Publication, ADF&G/DWC/WSP-2011-2. Palmer, Alaska.
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