Inspired by [link]
As almost all wolf tutorials here seem devoted exclusively to North American timber or arctic wolves, I thought I'd add my two cents. Please note though that I know that there is a great deal of variation in both North American and European wolves. These figures are simply based on which traits are consistently
different in European and American wolves in general.
At the same time, I'd like to dispell some myths about European wolves
:1: They are smaller and weaker than North American wolves.
While it is true for certain populations of European wolves (the small French and Italian specimens for example), it cannot be said for the European population as a whole. According to Barry Lopez in his Of Wolves and Men
, the average American wolf is 80 lbs, while the average European wolf is 85 lbs. Secondly, according to Mammals of the Soviet Union
, Russian wolves do occasionally reach 176 lbs (one lb more than the largest recorded American wolf). According to Wolves in Russia
, the largest wolf shot in the former Soviet Union weighed 86 kg (190 lbs), 15 lbs heavier than the largest recorded American wolf. As for them being weak, Theodore Roosevelt, who hunted both European and American wolves, commented that overall the European wolves were stronger and more ferocious.2. European wolves are heavily hybridized with dogs:
WRONG! According to Carles Vila in his Hybridization between wolves and dogs
, hybridization has not occurred in any significant scale in European wolf populations. In fact, it is likely that North American wolves have more dog genes than their European counterparts, considering that there are more black wolves in America than in Europe (black wolves are descended from wolf-dog hybrids). Another thing to take into account is the fact that European wolves actually have larger brains than American wolves (as shown by Hemmer (1990)). Dogs and hybrids invariably have smaller brains than pure wolves, so it makes no sense to claim that the largest brained specimens are in fact genetically polluted.3. European wolves are on the verge of extinction!:
Not true at all. While it is true that wolves are scarce in central Europe, they are flanked by Spain and Eastern Europe. Spain alone has something like 2000 wolves, while Eastern Europe (especially Russia) has the largest wolf population in the world, which continues to migrate into Central and Northern Europe. Even if these "migrants" were killed, they'd be quickly replaced by new Russian or Spanish wolves.