|Copyright: Petra van der Linden (lovebirds)
|Date Taken: 2010-12-30|
|Camera: CANON 1Ds Mark III|
|Exposure: f/13.0, 1/40 seconds|
|Details: Tripod: Yes|
|More Photo Info: [view]|
|Photo Version: Original Version|
|Date Submitted: 2011-03-14 9:46|
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
The European wolf's] head is narrower, and tapers gradually to form the nose, which is produced on the same plane with the forehead. Its ears are higher and somewhat nearer to each other; their length exceeds the distance between the auditory opening and the eye. Its loins are more slender, its legs longer, feet narrower, and its tail, is more thinly clothed with fur. The shorter ears, broader forehead, and thicker muzzle of the American Wolf, with the bushiness of the hair behind the cheek, give it a physiognomy more like the social visage of an Esquimaux dog than the sneaking aspect of a European Wolf.
The size of Eurasian wolves is subject to geographic variation with animals in Russia and Scandinavia being larger and bulkier than those residing in Western Europe having been compared by Theodore Roosevelt to the large wolves of north-western Montana and Washington. Adults from Russia measure 105160 cm in length, 8085 cm in shoulder height and weigh on average 3250 kg (70.5-110 lbs), with a maximum weight of 6980 kg (152-176 lbs). One of the largest on record was killed after World War II in the Kobelyakski Area of the Poltavskij Region in the Ukrainian SSR, and weighed 86 kilograms (190lb). Larger weights of 9296 kg (202.8-211.6 lbs) have been recorded in Ukraine, though the circumstances under which these latter animals were weighed are not known. Although similar in size to central Russian wolves, Swedish and Norwegian wolves tend to be more heavily built with deeper shoulders. One wolf killed in Romania was recorded to have weighed 72 kilograms (158 pounds). In Italian wolves, excepting the tail, body length ranges between 110148 cm, while shoulder height is 5070 cm. Males weigh between 2535kg (55-77 lbs) and rarely 45 kg (99 lbs). The now extinct British wolves are known to have reached similar sizes to Arctic wolves.
Because of widespread habitat reduction and displacement of large prey, European wolf packs are usually smaller than North American ones, and generally form territorial ranges of 100500 km², as opposed to North American packs whose territories encompass 80-2,500 km². Because of their longer association with urban civilizations, Eurasian wolves tend to be more adaptable than North American wolves in the face of human expansion; Southern European wolves successfully live in areas with much higher human densities than what North American wolves will tolerate.
Unlike wolves in North America, many Eurasian wolf populations are forced to subsist largely on livestock and garbage in areas with dense human activity, though wild ungulates such as moose, red deer, roe deer and wild boar are still important food sources in Russia and the more mountainous regions of Eastern Europe. Other prey species include reindeer, mouflon, wisent, saiga, ibex, chamois, mountain goats, fallow deer and musk deer.
In Scandinavia, moose are their most frequent prey in forested areas, while roe deer predominate in agricultural lands. Wild reindeer are the primary food source for wolves living in the tundra regions of Siberia, while moose are targeted in the taiga zones. Wild boar are an important prey item for wolves in the Kyzyl-Agash Reserve near the Caspian Sea, southern Spain and the Apennines in Italy, constituting 12-52% of their dietary intake in the latter area. In the Białowieża Forest, wolves primarily feed on red deer; 75% of red deer mortality there was attributed to wolf predation. Mouflon and chamois are the most frequent prey in France's Mercantour National Park. In northern Finland, wolves subsist largely on domesticated reindeer herds. In northwestern Spain, they feed almost entirely on livestock.
Populations and threats
With the exception of Great Britain and Ireland, wolves were widespread in Europe during the 18th century. Wolves were exterminated from all central and northern European countries during the 19th century and the post WWII period. Remnant populations remain in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece and Finland, though Eurasian wolves have been recovering naturally in several parts of Europe; recolonising France, Germany, Sweden and Norway. The largest populations now occur in Eastern Europe, primarily in Romania, the Balkans and Poland.
Wolf populations generally seem to be stable or increasing in most, but not all, Bern Convention nations. Limiting factors in member nations include a lack of acceptance of wolves (particularly in areas where they have made a comeback) due to concerns on livestock and dog predation and competition with hunters. Although properly regulated wolf harvests and control have been largely accepted as compatible with maintaining wolf numbers to economically acceptable levels, over hunting and poaching are recognized as the main limiting factor in European wolf populations. With the exception of Russia, European wolf populations number 18,000-25,000.
Although there are concerns that European wolf populations have extensively mixed with dogs, with records of wolf-hybrids being present in Albania, Bulgaria, Germany, Latvia and Serbia, an analysis on the DNA sequences show that introgression of dog genes into European wolf populations does not pose a significant threat. Also, as wolf and dog mating seasons do not fully coincide, the likelihood of wild wolves and dogs mating and producing surviving offspring is small. In some cases, the presence of dewclaws (which do not occur in pure wolves) has been shown to be a reliable, but not foolproof way of identifying hybrids. In pre-revolutionary France, wild wolf-dog hybrids were occasionally hunted, and were termed Lycisca to distinguish them from ordinary wolves.
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