GRAY WOLF, ART PICTURE
Though once abundant over much of North America and Eurasia, the gray wolf inhabits a very small portion of its former range because of widespread destruction of its habitat; in some regions it is endangered or threatened. Considered as a whole, however, the gray wolf is regarded as of least concern for extinction according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Wolves are still hunted in many areas for sport or as perceived threats to livestock. Kazakhstan is currently thought to have the largest wolf population of any nation; it has as many as 90,000, versus some 60,000 for Canada.
Gray wolves play an important role as apex predators in the ecosystems they typically occupy. Gray wolves have been known to thrive in temperate forests, deserts, mountains, tundra, taiga, and grasslands; this diversity reflects the wolf's adaptability as a species.