Alexander Archipelago wolf (Species; Canis lupus ligoni), also known as the Island’s wolf, is actually a sub-species of the Rocky Mountain Wolf.
Facts on the Alexander Archipelago Wolf
1. The Alexander archipelago Wolf is found in Archipelago group of Islands (1100 in number) located in Southeast Alaska.
2. In 1993, a petition was filed about Alexander Archipelago wolf as being threatened to being extinct under the US Endangered Species Act. In March 2014, further research over the years lead to EPA deciding to perform a ‘status review’ to decide if the Alexander Archipelago was threatened or endangered.
3. Alexander Archipelago wolf was determined as a unique subspecies of the Northwestern wolf, due to its common cranial characteristics. It was recently suggested by the taxonomists that they may have originated from another subspecies which is known as C. I. nubilis.
4. Using Mitochondrial DNA, it was studied that the wolves native to coastal Southwest Alaska are genetically different from the inland gray wolves.
5. The Alexander Archipelago Wolf has an average weight between 30 and 50 lb, they are about 2 ft tall at the shoulder and 3 ½ ft long.
6. These coastal wolves are generally darker in fur color with alternating lighter shades, when compared with the typical gray wolf. Individual Archipelago wolves differ a bit in their fur color from each other and also from island to island, ranging from pure black all the way up to bright cinnamon.
7. Alexander Archipelago wolves prey mostly on Sitka black-tailed deer which fulfills around 90% of their diet. The remaining 10% of the wolf’s diet is the North American beaver.
8. In the 1990s, their population was estimated to be 750-1100. Let me give you a modern example. In 2014, the population of the Archipelago Wolves fell from 200 to just 60! This amounts to 70% loss of population in just a year.
9. The Alexander archipelago wolf is considered one of the world’s rarest wolves and the islands that are in Tongass national forest are their only home which is in the United states.
“The Alexander Archipelago wolf is one of the world’s rarest wolf subspecies, and the islands that make up the Tongass National Forest are its only home in the United States. They’re severely threatened”
U.S DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, FOREST SERVICES.
10. These wolves arrived in Alaska around 7000-8000 years ago after the end of the Wisconsin glaciation period, from where they migrated to different areas along the coast following the Sitka deer migration patterns.
11. The USDA forest service sponsored an inter-agency committee which was the first one to observe the possible instability of the population of Alexander Archipelago wolves. This came to happen when the committee was reading into the effects of the Tongass Land Management Plan.
12. Pups of these wolves are born during the last two weeks of April. The wolves usually build dens 4-5 weeks prior to the birth of the pups. Also, these dens are only present in natural forests since archipelago wolves don’t easily adapt in reforested areas to build new dens or habitats.
13. These wolves are more sensitive towards human activity and the disturbance of habitat as compared to other species in natural forests. So as i just discussed archipelago habitats should not be disturbed and conserved as much as possible!
Most recently, as of first few weeks of April, 165 of the 170 (Almost 97%) Alexander Archipelago wolves have been killed by poachers.