Canis Soupus: Eastern Wolf Genetics and Its Implications

for Wolf Recovery in the Northeast United States

Nina Fascione

Defenders of Wildlife, 1101 14th St. NW, Suite 1400, Washington DC 20005;

Lisa G. L. Osborn

Defenders of Wildlife, P.O. Box 756, Shelburne, VT 05482;

Stephen R. Kendrot

USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services, P.O. Box 130, Hull Street Rd., Mosely, VA 23120;

Paul C. Paquet

Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada;


Efforts to restore wolves to the northeastern United States have been confounded by a new

taxonomic proposal: that the wolf historically inhabiting this region was not, as previously

thought, a subspecies of gray wolf commonly called the eastern timber wolf (Canis lupus lycaon),

but rather a separate species closely related to the red wolf (Canis rufus) of the southeast United

States. This hypothesis raises numerous biological, legal, policy, and management questions

about potential wolf restoration. While restoring wolves could complete a broken food chain by

providing a natural predator for moose in the northern forest ecosystem, the process of wolf

restoration in the Northeast is in its infancy. Further studies must address biological, sociological,

and economic impact questions, as well as answer the basic question of what wolf originally

inhabited the northeastern forests?