Extinct Wolves

For a long time, mostly until the 1970s, wolves were considered a threat to humans and their livestock. This led to them being persecuted on a regular basis. As a result, some wolves became extinct in certain countries, like Japan and England. However, not all wolves became extinct due to hunting by humans. Some prehistoric wolves could not adapt to changing environments and died out.

Extinct Wolves

List of Wolves That Went Extinct

WolfCharacteristicsWhere Did It Live?When Did It Go Extinct?Reason for Extinction
Bernard’s Wolf (Canis lupus bernardi)1. White fur with black tips

2. Like other gray wolves, it was a social creature
The Arctic Archipelago, specifically Banks and Victoria IslandsBetween 1918-1952The exact reason is unclear, but most likely reasons include a limited range combined with occasional hunting by humans
Cascade Mountains Wolf (Canis lupus fuscus)1. Cinnamon-colored fur

2. Approximately 5 feet long and weighed between 79 and 108 lbs
Pacific Northwest (British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington)Around 1940Exterminated by European settlers
Cave Wolf (Canis lupus spelaeus)1. Their legs were quite small compared to the rest of their bodies

2. It is closely related to the domestic dog
EuropeLate Pleistocene (between 129,000 and 11,700 years ago)Inability to adapt to the drop in temperature caused by the Last Glacial Maximum
Dire Wolf (Aenocyon dirus)1. Similar proportions to the Yukon and Northwestern wolves even though it’s from a different genus

2. Hunted and fed on large prey like bison, camels, ground sloths, horses, mastodons, etc.
Eastern Asia and the AmericasEarly Holocene (between 125,000 and 9,500 years ago)Changes in temperatures caused its primary sources of food to die out, and it was unable to compete with other carnivores when it came to hunting smaller prey
Hokkaido Wolf (Canis lupus hattai)1. One of two wolves that were native to Japan

2. Similar in size to other gray wolf sub-species

3. Light gray fur with dark guard hair running along its back
Hokkaido, JapanAround 1889, possibly even earlierExtermination by local farmers in the Meiji Restoration period, with the help of strychnine-laced baits
Japanese Wolf (Canis lupus hodophilax)1. Smaller compared to the Hokkaido Wolf

2. Feral domestic dogs are often confused for this wolf due to the close similarities between them
Japan (Honshū, Shikoku and Kyūshū)Around 1905Combination of persecution as a result of Meiji Era policies and the introduction of viral diseases like canine distemper and rabies
Late Pleistocene Wolf (Canis lupus)1. Varied coat color

2. Preyed upon the megafauna of the time like bison, mammoths, and musk oxen
Throughout the Northern HemisphereLate Pleistocene (between 129,000 and 11,700 years ago)Unclear, but potentially because of the loss of prey and habitat with changing environment
Newfoundland Wolf (Canis lupus beothucus)1. Mostly possessed white fur, but some specimens were known to change the color of their fur with the passing season

2. It hunted the Newfoundland Caribou for food

3. It is closely related to the Labrador Wolf, though the ranges of the two sub-species did not overlap
Newfoundland, Canada Around 1911Population decline of its primary food source – the Newfoundland Caribou, which almost halved over a decade from 120,000 to 6,000

Also, it is worth noting that the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) is very likely to become extinct, with only 200 individuals recorded living in Mexico.