Wolves are the largest members of the dog-like family known as canidae. There is some debate over how many species of wolves exist. There are two universally recognised species, the grey wolf and the red wolf.
Grey wolves are the most populous and wide ranging wolf, found across much of the northern hemisphere. There are numerous subspecies of grey wolf, such as the Arctic wolf and Italian wolf. Although the overall grey wolf population is classed as of least concern, there are certain subspecies that are under serious threat. The Mexican wolf is the most at risk of these, with only around 160 remaining in the wild.
The red wolf is found only in North America. It is classed as critically endangered, with fewer than 30 individuals remaining in the wild, found in North Carolina.
Ethiopian wolves are a close relative of the wolf, found only in the highlands of Ethiopia. The species is classed as endangered, with fewer than 500 remaining in the wild.
Due to demonisation over the years, wolves have often been victims of hunting and this is the main reason for their decline. Wolves are actually very shy animals and direct attacks on humans are extremely rare.
As top predators, wolves carry out a very important role in maintaining a healthy environment. Therefore, if any subspecies were to go extinct, then those ecosystems would suffer as a result.