US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Can. J. Zool. 88: 129–138 (2010), doi:10.1139/Z09-129.


U.S. government work.


The taxonomic identity of the historical and current wolf (Canis lupus L., 1758 or Canis lycaon Schreber, 1775 or their hybrids) population in Minnesota (MN) and the Great Lakes region has been, and continues to be, controversial. So too does its legal status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. This review summarizes the morphological and genetic information about that population and concludes that historically the MN population consisted of a gray wolf (C. lupus) in the west and an eastern type (Canis lupus lycaon or C. lycaon) in the east with intergrades or hybrids between the two in most of the state. After extirpation in much of its original MN range, the now-recovered population was infused with gray wolves from Ontario but still consists of hybrid lycaon x gray wolves, probably with higher content gray wolves in the west and higher content lycaon in the east but with most wolves morphologically appearing to be gray wolves. Because the current Wisconsin and Michigan wolf population was derived from MN wolves, they would be primarily hybrids as well. Future research should seek to relate genetic data with morphological measurements in MN wolves. In addition, attempts to breed coyotes (Canis latrans Say, 1823) with gray wolves in captivity would shed considerable light on the controversy over the origin and taxonomic identity of the newly proposed C. lycaon.