The grey wolf - otherwise known as the timber wolf, white wolf or 'common' wolf - lives in a variety of habitats, from the Arctic tundra and open steppes of Russia, to the mountainous regions and forests of the northern hemisphere. It has a highly organised social structure which enables it to enjoy the maximum cooperation when hunting, communicating, and defending its territory. So successful was it that the grey wolf was once the world's most widespread mammal.

However, the grey wolf has always been feared by man and has been persecuted more than any other animal, but its cunning, intelligence, and flexibility have saved it from extinction.

Once widespread throughout North America, Canada, Europe and the Far East, the grey wolf is sadly now only found in large numbers in specific parts of Russia, North America and Eastern Europe. Small numbers also occur in the Abruzzi mountains in Italy.

The main reason for the wolf's continuing decline has been the dramatic reduction of its natural prey. This has largely been replaced by farm stock which is protected by the use of poisons, traps and even guns. It is still shot in Europe despite legal protection.

The final fate of the wolf will depend on whether mankind can allow the animal the co-exist alongside him.

The grey wolf lives in packs of between five and ten animals. Each pack contains a family unit,consisting of a dominant male and female, and the offspring from several years.

The hierarchy that exists within each pack is maintained by dominant or submissive body posturing, as well as other behavioural patterns such as the communal care of the young.

The size of the pack's territory depends on the availability of prey, but usually covers several hundred square kilometres. The grey wolf is fiercely territorial. It scent marks boundaries and makes its presence known by howling to other members of the pack. Calls may be answered by rival wolf packs.

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