Genetic findings suggest that 2 types of wolves, Canis lupus (Gray Wolf) and C. lycaon (Eastern Wolf), and/or their hybrids occupy Minnesota (MN), and this study examines adult wolf ear lengths as a possible distinguisher between these two. Photographic evidence suggested that the Eastern Wolf possesses proportionately longer ears than Gray Wolves. Ear lengths from 22 northwestern MN wolves from the early 1970s and 22 Alaskan wolves were used to represent Gray Wolves, and the greatest length of the sample (12.8 cm) was used as the least length to demarcate Eastern Wolf from Gray Wolf influence in the samples. Twenty-three percent of 112 adult wolves from Algonquin Park in eastern Ontario and 30% of 106 recent adult wolves in northeastern MN possessed ears >12.8 cm. The northeastern MN sample differed significantly from that of current and past northwestern MN wolves. Ear-lengths of wolves in the eastern half of the northeastern MN wolf population were significantly longer than those in the western half of that study area, even though the mean distance between the 2 areas was only 40 km, and the mean length of my 2004–2009 sample was significantly longer than that of 1999–2003. These findings support the hypothesis that Eastern Wolves tend to possess longer ears than do Gray Wolves and suggest a dynamic hybridization process is still underway in MN.
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Vol. 18 • No. 3