Gray wolf populations in the Western Great Lakes region probably represent the most secure and highly connected gray wolves in the Lower 48 US States. The wolf population is about 2 ½ times as large as the wolf population in the Northern Rockies. The Great Lakes wolf population is also highly connected to the much larger Canadian wolf population of 60,000 wolves, with Minnesota sharing most of its northern border with Ontario wolf range. The wolves among the 3 states are highly interconnected and dispersers readily travel throughout the area, and several pack territories overlap Wisconsin and Michigan or Michigan and Wisconsin.
The Mexican gray wolf population in New Mexico and Arizona consists of only about 50 wolves in the wild and continues to be a highly endangered population. Intense management and reintroductions of individual wolves is continuing to occur in the region.
Unlike western wolves, Great Lake wolves have a fairly simple ungulate prey base, consisting mainly of White-tailed deer. Wolves in extreme northeast Minnesota feed on some moose, and small elk herds in northwest Wisconsin and Minnesota provide some limited food for wolves. Great Lakes wolves are also not exposed to livestock on public forestlands and encounter livestock only on small private pastureland, thus there is much greater clumping of areas with livestock depredation, and the vast majority of wolf packs do not depredate on livestock.
Physically Great Lake wolves are somewhat smaller than wolves of the western Rocky Mountains, and have a lot more tan, cinnamon and rufus colors, but less melanistic or black individuals. Mexican wolves are similar or slightly smaller in size. Great Lakes wolves have been closely connected to the smaller eastern wolf (Canis lycaon) to the east, and recent genetic analysis suggests there has been some hybridization between gray wolves and eastern wolves in the region.