The Eastern Wolves of Algonquin Park

Algonquin Provincial Park is home to 30-35 eastern wolf packs. Sadly, there are less than 500 of these animals left in the wild, with Algonquin Park seeing the largest population.
Algonquin Provincial Park is home to 30-35 eastern wolf packs. Sadly, there are less than 500 of these animals left in the wild, with Algonquin Park seeing the largest population. | Source

Quick Facts About Algonquin Provincial Park

  • Algonquin Provincial Park was first established in 1893. It is the oldest Provincial Park in Canada.
  • The Park is 7,725 square kilometres in size. It is approximately one and a half times the size of Prince Edward Island.
  • Over half a million people, from all over the world, travel to Algonquin Provincial Park every year.
  • The Park is home to approximately 2000 Black Bears, 3000-4000 Moose, 150-170 Eastern Wolves and over 1,000 species of plants.

Have You Ever Visited Algonquin Park?

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One of the best places in Canada for wildlife viewing

Encompassing approximately 7, 725 square kilometres, Algonquin Provincial Park is one of the premiere wildlife destinations in Canada.

Originally established as a wild life sanctuary in 1893, under the name Algonquin National Park, it was renamed to what it is now known as, Algonquin Provincial Park in 1913. It is also affectionately called "The Gonq" by frequent visitors. Algonquin Park is the oldest Provincial Park in Canada.

Over one million people travel from all over the world to this breathe taking destination each year in hopes of sighting one of the three major wildlife attractions: Black Bears, Moose and the Eastern Wolf. Algonquin Provincial Park is home to approximately 2000 Black Bears, 3000-4000 Moose and 30-35 packs of Eastern Wolves (approximately 150-170 Wolves in total).

I have had some of the best wild life experiences of my life within the park boundaries. For several years my husband and I have travelled to Algonquin Park each summer to explore the beautiful trails and experience the wildlife. I am quite proud to say that I have finally (after eight years of trying) experienced, what I like to call, the Algonquin Park Triad. The Algonquin Park Triad consists of spotting all three of the major animals in Algonquin: The Black Bear, The Moose and The Eastern Wolf.

In this three part series, we'll learn a bit about these wonderful animals and take a look at some beautiful photographs of each. I have also included video that I was fortunate enough to take of each animal, including a chilling video of the eastern wolves of Algonquin Park Howling. We'll start with one of the most popular animals found in the park (and hardest to spot!): The Eastern Wolf.


The Highway 60 that runs through Algonquin Provincial Park is a hot spot for wildlife activity. My first eastern wolf sighting was along this highway, near Brewer Lake in Algonquin Park.
The Highway 60 that runs through Algonquin Provincial Park is a hot spot for wildlife activity. My first eastern wolf sighting was along this highway, near Brewer Lake in Algonquin Park. | Source

Quick Facts About Eastern Wolves

  • Contrary to popular belief, the Eastern Wolf is not a subspecies of the Grey Wolf.
  • Adult Eastern Wolves weigh between 25-30 kilograms. They are smaller than the Grey Wolf.
  • Visitors to Algonquin Park often mistake Eastern Wolf sightings for Coyotes, as they are similar in size and colour. There are no Coyotes in Algonquin Park. Coyotes are unable to compete with Eastern Wolves for food sources.

Algonquin Park Eastern Wolves

Eastern Wolves live primarily in Central Ontario and Western Quebec, with Algonquin Provincial Park seeing the largest population. Historically these animals once occupied a much wider range within North America, including areas north of the Great Lakes in Ontario. Due to loss of habitat, human intervention and ignorance these rare animals were once hunted in an attempt to eradicate them completely. There are fewer than 500 Eastern Wolves left.

Algonquin Park is the largest protected area for Eastern Wolves. For this reason, many visitors journey to the park each year hoping to catch a glimpse of an Eastern Wolf. The Eastern Wolf is especially reclusive, making a sighting during a trip to the park difficult, but not unlikely. Many visitors to Algonquin Park often mistake Eastern Wolves for Coyotes. Due to competition for food, coyotes do not live within Algonquin Park boundaries.

Originally thought to be a subspecies of the Grey wolf, genetic testing has proved differently. The Eastern Wolf has genes from both Red Wolves and Coyotes. It is a member of the dog family, similar to other wolves in North America.

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Due to previous attempts to exterminate the eastern wolf population, many eastern wolves now call animals parks, like Park Omega in Quebec home.The eastern wolf is often mistaken for coyotes when spotted by Algonquin campers. They typically have a reddish brown coat, similar to that of the coyote.Algonquin Provincial Park is the largest protected area for the eastern wolf. Sanctuaries like Algonquin help to grow the wild population.
Due to previous attempts to exterminate the eastern wolf population, many eastern wolves now call animals parks, like Park Omega in Quebec home.
Due to previous attempts to exterminate the eastern wolf population, many eastern wolves now call animals parks, like Park Omega in Quebec home. | Source
The eastern wolf is often mistaken for coyotes when spotted by Algonquin campers. They typically have a reddish brown coat, similar to that of the coyote.
The eastern wolf is often mistaken for coyotes when spotted by Algonquin campers. They typically have a reddish brown coat, similar to that of the coyote. | Source
Algonquin Provincial Park is the largest protected area for the eastern wolf. Sanctuaries like Algonquin help to grow the wild population.
Algonquin Provincial Park is the largest protected area for the eastern wolf. Sanctuaries like Algonquin help to grow the wild population. | Source

Facts & Figures About the Eastern Wolf

Also called
Appearance
Habitat & Food Sources
Common Name: Eastern Wolf
Average adult weight: 25-30 kilograms
Primary Prey: white tail deer , Moose & Beavers
Scientific Name: Canis lycaon
Average Height: 60-68 cm tall
Average Territory size: 200 sq km
Other names: Eastern Grey Wolf, Algonquin Wolf, Eastern Timberwolf
Typical Colours: Reddish Brown & Grey
Habitat: Forest ecosystems. Primarily Central Ont. & Western Que.
Sources: Eastern Wolf Survey & The Science Behind Algonquin Animals
Though very reclusive, you may get lucky and see one during one of your first visits, like wild life photographer/pilot Mario Nonaka who travelled to the Park from Germany and saw one on the side of the highway. Photo 1a.
Though very reclusive, you may get lucky and see one during one of your first visits, like wild life photographer/pilot Mario Nonaka who travelled to the Park from Germany and saw one on the side of the highway. Photo 1a. | Source
This is a view of Brewer Lake, located along the highway 60, within Algonquin Park. This is the lake directly adjacent to where I spotted my first Algonquin Park Wolf.
This is a view of Brewer Lake, located along the highway 60, within Algonquin Park. This is the lake directly adjacent to where I spotted my first Algonquin Park Wolf. | Source
Algonquin Park Public Wolf Howls' begin with a slide show presented by Algonquin Park Naturalists, located at the park's Outdoor theatre.
Algonquin Park Public Wolf Howls' begin with a slide show presented by Algonquin Park Naturalists, located at the park's Outdoor theatre. | Source

Why Wolves Howl

Wolves howl for a number of reasons. Biologist believe a single howl is how wolves keep tabs on each other when their pack is spread out. When an entire pack howl's together, it is to defend their territory. Biologist also believe wolves howl as a bonding measure to help maintain unity within their pack.

Public Wolf Howl #114. Held on August 1st, 2013. There were a total of 300 cars and approximately 1200 people in attendance, myself included.
Public Wolf Howl #114. Held on August 1st, 2013. There were a total of 300 cars and approximately 1200 people in attendance, myself included. | Source

The Best Way To Experience Wolves in Algonquin Park

Visitors to Algonquin Park should not be disheartened if they don't spot an Eastern Wolf during their first visit. It may take several visits to the park before you experience your first wolf sighting. Or you may be one of the lucky ones and spot a wolf on your first day! That is the joy of being out in nature, you never know what you'll experience.

It wasn't until my fifth trip to Algonquin that I spotted an Eastern Wolf on the side of the highway. However, if you are looking for a more reliable way to experience wolves in Algonquin Park, consider planning your trip around one of Algonquin Park's Public Wolf Howls. Presented by The Friends of Algonquin Park, Wolf Howls take place every Thursday in August (provided Biologist are able to find a wolf pack close by to communicate with).

An Algonquin Park Public Wolf Howl is truly a one of a kind experience. The evening begins with a slide show and educational talk about the Eastern Wolf, presented by Algonquin Park Naturalists. This takes places at Algonquin's beautiful outdoor theatre, located just before km 35 on the highway 60. (Around the bend from Pog Lake Campground). After the slide show, campers then return to their cars and are lead to a pre-determined spot along the highway. The park naturalists and volunteers who work to co-ordinate this event are exceptionally organized and do a tremendous job ensuring everyone respects the safety of the other vehicles and campers. I was truly amazed how organized the event was. Leading several hundred cars out of one parking lot is a logistical nightmare, but the staff ran it like a well oiled machine.

After everyone has parked their cars along the side of the road (no idling allowed) campers are encouraged to get out of their vehicles and stand on the highway. The highway is shut down for this event. Naturalists then recreate a wolf howl in hopes the wolf pack closest by will respond in kind. The events staff venture's out the evening before to determine the best spot along the highway in which to have the event, to best ensure they will receive a response during the actual public howl.

The magic of this evening is so thrilling, it brought tears to my eyes when I first heard the wolves call back to us. Imagine standing in pitch darkness, surrounded by nature and hundreds of fellow campers. Everyone stands completely silent, waiting, holding their breathe and listens... To hear the chilling call of the Algonquin Park Eastern Wolf.

Algonquin Park Public Wolf Howl

5 out of 5 stars from 2 ratings of APP Public Wolf Howl

The video above is from my personal library. It was taken during Public Wolf Howl #114, on August 1st, 2013. Have you ever attended an Algonquin Public Wolf Howl? How would you rate your experience?

We Need to Protect the Eastern Wolf

An exhibit of eastern wolves from the Algonquin Park Visitors Centre. There are fewer than 500 of these animals left. Charities like CPAWS are helping to ensure the eastern wolf will continue to have a protected habitat long into the future.
An exhibit of eastern wolves from the Algonquin Park Visitors Centre. There are fewer than 500 of these animals left. Charities like CPAWS are helping to ensure the eastern wolf will continue to have a protected habitat long into the future. | Source

How You Can Help

If you're interested in learning more about the Eastern Wolf and how you can help protect it and other species/habitats at risk, The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is a wonderful organization to consider supporting. Originally founded in 1963, they are a national charity with 13 chapters operating across Canada, more than 60,000 supporters and hundreds of volunteers.

They have lead the charge in creating protected lands in Canada. Since it's inception they have worked to preserve over half a million square kilometres of land within Canada (this is equal to a landmass larger than the Yukon Territory). The Ottawa Valley Chapter of CPAWS has multiple campaigns dedicated to the protection of the Eastern Wolf.

If you are passionate about protecting wild life and want to help maintain the beauty of Canada's wilderness, I urge you to consider supporting this organization. You can do so by providing a donation, or simply by finding the closest CPAWS chapter in your area and volunteering your time.

A Species of Special Concern

Eastern Wolves are found year round within Algonquin Park. Though they have been known to venture outside of the park to find food. They have been spotted in townships outside of Algonquin Park, hunting white-tail deer. In previous years, when Eastern Wolves were spotted outside the boundaries of Algonquin Park, they were trapped or killed. For this reason, The Eastern Wolf is now protected under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. This means Eastern Wolves cannot be hunted in provincial parks (including Algonquin).

In 2002, the Government of Canada adopted the Species at Risk Act, with the aim to identify wild life species at risk and provide protection and recovery for species currently endangered or threatened. The Eastern Wolf is listed as a species of Special Concern under this act.

Despite this, there are still several ways the federal and provincial governments are failing to protect the Eastern Wolf. Thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers and wild life organizations like CPAWS, in 2004 hunting and trapping of these wolves was also banned, year round, in the 39 townships surrounding Algonquin Park. Though there is still much work to be done to help preserve the habitat and future of the Eastern Wolf. Despite a population of fewer than 500 left, hunters are still able to acquire licenses to kill these animals in other areas outside of Algonquin Park and the surrounding townships.

If you would like more information about the Species at Risk Act, Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act, you can follow the links above to their official web-sites.

Source: The Species at Risk Public Registry.

Black Bears are the second largest mammals found in Algonquin Provincial Park. Part two of this series features this often misunderstood animal.
Black Bears are the second largest mammals found in Algonquin Provincial Park. Part two of this series features this often misunderstood animal. | Source

A Final Note

Thank you for stopping by to read about Algonquin Park and the magnificent wolves that call the park home. I hope you found it informational as well as enjoyable to read. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please don't hesitate to post them below.

If you'd like to continue learning about the big three mammals of Algonquin Park, check out part two of this series, "The Black Bears of Algonquin Park"

A special thank you as well to wild life photographer Mario Nonaka for graciously allowing me to include his photograph of the eastern wolf (photo 1a, located above). If you would like to see more of Mario's beautiful photographs, you can follow him on Flickr, username fascinationwildlife or visit his web-site.

The author, Jessica, taking a break from mountain biking to enjoy the view. Taken along the bike trails of Mew Lake campground, Algonquin Park.
The author, Jessica, taking a break from mountain biking to enjoy the view. Taken along the bike trails of Mew Lake campground, Algonquin Park. | Source

About the Author

An enthusiastic and passionate fan of Algonquin Park & it's wild life, Jessica instantly fell in love with Algonquin Provincial Park during her first visit eight years ago. She has spent every winter since looking forward to the summer months so she can travel to the park again. She has experienced camping in almost all of the camp grounds along the highway 60 and completed all of the trails. Finally armed with a canoe of her very own, she hopes to finally complete a back country portage of Algonquin Park in the summer of 2014.

If you're interested in supporting this beautiful provincial park, please consider donating to The Friends of Algonquin Park.
If you're interested in supporting this beautiful provincial park, please consider donating to The Friends of Algonquin Park. | Source

For more information

If you're considering planning a trip to Algonquin Provincial Park, reservations can be made through Ontario Parks. If you'd like more information about Algonquin Park, including how you can help support the park, please pay a visit to The Friends of Algonquin Park web-site.

If you'd like to learn more about the Eastern Wolf, The Eastern Wolf Survey and The Science Behind Algonquin's Animals are excellent sources of information.

More by this Author


7 comments

Efficient Admin profile image

Efficient Admin 2 years ago from Charlotte, NC

They are beautiful creatures. We have a small protected population of red wolves near the oceans of North Carolina and unfortunately a few of them were shot and killed because they closely resemble coyotes. So to protect the red wolves, the state has banned killing coyotes. This has so far remedied the situation because no more red wolves have been shot.

Canada is a beautiful country and I hope to visit there someday. I wouldn't want my dog to have a wolf encounter on a camping trip though! Very informative and interesting hub, thanks for sharing.


JessBraz profile image

JessBraz 2 years ago from Canada Author

@jtrader-

Algonquin Park is a great family camping trip! I've gone with just my husband and I, my best friend and I for a girls trip and a couple of times as a big family trip. I so look forward to the day when I have my own little ones to take to the Park. It's such a special place to my husband and I, it'll be exciting to take our own little family there someday!

Thanks for stopping by to read and comment!


jtrader profile image

jtrader 2 years ago

Seems like an interesting place to visit with family.


JessBraz profile image

JessBraz 2 years ago from Canada Author

@Jodah- Thank you so much for your kind words, I'm glad you enjoyed reading about the eastern wolf. :)

The Algonquin Park Wolf Howl truly is an amazing experience. I cried when I first heard the wolves howling. I can't wait to go back. My husband and I are already planning our next trip to Algonquin for this coming summer!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

This is a wonderful hub Jess, a great tribute to the Eastern wolf. I am thankful for reserves like Algonquin Park for protecting species like this that would otherwise be in danger of extinction. The wolf howl would be an awesome experience. I can see why you enjoy visiting and camping in the park regularly. Can't wait to read more. Voted up.


JessBraz profile image

JessBraz 2 years ago from Canada Author

@Alphadogg16- Thank you so much for stopping by to read my hub and comment. Sincerely appreciated! :D

There is no difference between a grey wolf and a timberwolf.. Two different names for the same animal.

Eastern wolves are different from grey wolves (timberwolves) - but because it was once believed the eastern wolf was a subspecies of the grey wolf (which we now know to be incorrect) it also got the nickname "timberwolf" ... Now because we know the eastern wolf is not a subspecies of the grey wolf, we distinguish it from the "timberwolf" by nicknaming the "eastern timberwolf" .

Hope that helps to clarify!

Thanks again for reading!

Warm regards,

Jessica.


Alphadogg16 profile image

Alphadogg16 2 years ago from Texas

As an avid animal lover, the wolf has always been an animal that I have been fascinated with, along with many others. I always thought the Grey Wolf was called the Timberwolf. Thumbs up on your hub JessBraz.

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