The wolf is distributed throughout the northern hemisphere, with the exception of North Africa, and lives in a variety of different habitats: the frozen landscapes of Alaska, the tundra of Siberia, the forests of North America and Eurasia, and the semi-desert regions of the Middle East.
Currently the range of the wolf is very small. In Europe, wolf populations are usually fragmented into smaller nuclei, with the largest populations in the eastern European countries. In recent years, in central Europe, the wolf population has increased in number and distribution area, returning to recolonize areas where it had disappeared. Wolves of the eastern European countries have expanded to the west (Germany and Czech Republic) and Italian populations of wolves have also migrated north (Switzerland, Austria and France).
This change is the result of changing public attitudes towards the wolf and the change of land use by man.
In north and central America there has been a large decrease in the wolf populations but in the eastern United States and border areas with Canada, there is now an expansion of the species.
The last census conducted worldwide, in 1998, mentions the presence of the wolf in 43 countries: in 83% of these countries wolf numbers are stable or tending to increase, and in 17% the number of wolves is shrinking.