We examined weights and hematologic profiles of gray wolf (Canis lupus) pups and the associated wolf density in the east-central Superior National Forest of northeastern Minnesota (USA) during 1970 to 1988. We collected weight and hematologic data from 117 pups (57 females, 60 males) during 1 September to 22 November each year. The wolf density (wolves/800 km2) trend was divided into three phases: high (72 ± 7), 1970 to 1975; medium (44 ± 2), 1976 to 1983; and low (27 ± 2), 1984 to 1988. Wolf numbers declined (P = 0.0001) 39 and 63% from 1970 to 1975 to 1976 to 1983 and from 1970 to 1975 to 1984 to 1988, respectively. Weight was similar between male and female pups and did not vary as wolf density changed. Mean hemoglobin (P = 0.04), red (P = 0.0001) and white blood cells (P = 0.002), mean corpuscular volume, mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration and mean corpuscular hemoglobin (P = 0.0001) did differ among the multi-annual phases of changing wolf density. Weight and hematologic data also were compared to values from captive wolf pups. The high, but declining wolf density was associated with macrocytic, normochromic anemia in wolf pups, whereas the lowest density coincided with a hypochromic anemia. Although hematologic values show promise for assessing wolf pup condition and wolf population status, they must be used cautiously until data are available from other populations.
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Vol. 27 • No. 4