Mackenzie Valley Wolf (''Canis lupus occidentalis'')
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North American Wolf Subspecies Map
See also: world species map
Mackenzie Valley Wolf, Mackenzie Tundra Wolf, Alaskan Tundra Wolf or Canadian Timber Wolf
Parts of the western United States, much of western Canada, and Alaska.
Canis lupus occidentalis, from frank-wouters@Flickr
The Mackenzie Valley Wolf is the most common subspecies in North America. They are one of the larger North American subspecies, typically standing 32 - 36 inches (81 - 91 cm) at the shoulder, with a typical weight of 100 - 145 pounds (45 - 65 kg). Its thick, long limbs are proportionally built for traversing through rough terrain such as deep snow or the cliffy edges of the Rocky Mountains. Its deep chest hosts large lungs, letting the wolf breathe more efficiently at higher altitudes, and allowing it to exert huge amounts of stamina traveling up to 115 km (~70 miles) in one day. Its powerful neck is a very important adaptation: it has to be strong to support the wolf's large head and is crucial for bringing down prey.
Though the typical coloration is usually black, a blended gray, or brown, the full Gray Wolf colour spectrum is represented within the Mackenzie Valley Wolf. All-white wolves are not common in this subspecies, however.
In 1992, the Mackenzie Valley Wolf (canis lupus mackenzii) was re-classified as Canis lupus occidentalis, common with wolves in Alaska and Western Canada.2
Canis lupus occidentalis, from Wikimedia Commons
These canines were not in terrible danger prior to 1988; they reclaimed some of their old range and territory after humans died off, but they did not experience any great advantage as a result of human extinction. In fact, increased competition from other recovering subspecies may have threatened them more. They share their range with a number of other canines, including several subspecies of coyote.
Many of these wolves are Luperci; their central range means many canines have passed through and spread the virus throughout this subspecies. Humanized lifestyles, however, remain out of the norm; most of these canines prefer a more feral lifestyle, keeping to their four-legged traditions and retaining their old ways.