The gray wolf is found in all habitats except tropical forests and arid deserts, mostly in wilderness and remote areas, particularly in Canada, Alaska and northern USA, Europe, and Asia.
North American – Canis lupus lycaon (Eastern wolves)
The species’ modern range in North America is mostly confined to Alaska and Canada, with populations also occurring in northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and portions of Washington, Idaho, northern Oregon, and Montana. Canadian wolves began to naturally re-colonize northern Montana around Glacier National Park in 1979, and the first wolf den in the western U.S. in over half a century was documented there in 1986. The wolf population in northwest Montana initially grew as a result of natural reproduction and dispersal to about 48 wolves by the end of 1994. From 1995 to 1996, wolves from Alberta and British Columbia were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and Idaho. In addition, the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) was reintroduced to Arizona and New Mexico in 1998. The gray wolf is found in approximately 80% of its historical range in Canada, thus making it an important stronghold for the species.
Canada is home to about 52,000–60,000 wolves. In Alaska, the gray wolf population is estimated at 6,000–7,000, and can be legally harvested during hunting and trapping seasons, with restrictions. The gray wolf received Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan in 1974, and was re-classed from Endangered to Threatened in 2003.
Reintroduced Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico are protected under the ESA and, as of late 2002, number 28 individuals in eight packs.