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About The Wolves

This section of my site is to let people know a bit more about the misconceptions of the wolf.
Here is some information I have found about the wolves, that I hope you read,
in order to understand them a little better. They are the most wonderful animals I have ever known!

Please take the time to scroll to the bottom of the page and watch the video. It is worthy of your time. :-)

Wolf families (called packs) usually consist of a set of
parents (alpha pair), and generations of their offspring.
Alphas are the leaders of the other pack members with all males
falling under the order of the Alpha male
and all females under the Alpha female.

Their strictly established hierarchy serves to create an extraordinary
social order which is maintained through complex
non-verbal (body, ear and tail posture, eye contact, spatial distance)
and verbal communication (whines, growls, barks and howls).
Wolves are noted for their distinctive howl.

Biologists do not know all of the reasons why wolves howl,
but they may do so before and after a hunt, to sound an
alarm, and to locate other members of the pack when separated.

Wolves howl more frequently in the evening and early morning,
especially during winter breeding and pup-rearing.
Wolf packs appear to take great pleasure in howling together
- often howling when they first greet each
other when they wake or before sleeping.
These groups howls apparently serve to socially bond pack members.

Alpha wolves begin mating when they are 2 to 3 years old,
often establishing life-long mates.
The Alpha female digs a den or uses an existing shelter,
sometimes with chambers and connecting tunnels, in which
to rear her pups for the first 6 weeks of their lives.
An average of six pups is born in early spring.

Pups are born blind and unable to
regulate their body temperature - helpless without their mother.
Other pack members help the Alpha female by bringing her food
and protecting the den site during this time.

As the pups mature, other packs members
care them for when the Alpha female leaves the den
or rendezvous site to hunt or rest.

By 7 to 8 months of age, when they
are almost fully-grown, the young wolves begin hunting
with the adults.
Often after 1 or 2 years of age, a young wolf will
leave and try to form its own pack.
These wolves are called "dispersers."

Wolf packs usually hunt within a specific territory.
Their territory size depends on food availability, external pressure
(human and other predator competition) and climate.
The average wolf territory is about 10 square miles
multiplied by the number of pack members.

The wolf's great hunting skills lies in its
determination and ability to seek out vulnerable prey.
Wolves often cover large areas to do so,
travelling as far as 30 miles in a day.
Although they usually trot along at 5 mph, wolves can
attain speeds as high as 45 mph.

Wolves prey on ungulates - elk, deer, moose, bison and caribou.
Wolves focus their hunt on the weakest among these animals
- culling the old, sick, injured or young from ungulate herds,
which helps keep these herds healthier as a whole.

Of course, wolves are opportunists and
will sometimes kill healthy animals if safe opportunities arise.
Hunting elk and moose is dangerous as one kick can
result in a broken leg or other injuries leading to the death of the wolf.

Wolves support a wide variety of other animals.
Ravens, foxes, coyotes, martins, wolverines, vultures, and
even bears and eagles feed on the remains of animals killed by wolves.

Raven and wolves appear to have developed a special relationship
- ravens scavenge from wolf kills and also serve to
alert wolves when they sense danger nearby.

Wolves are also scavengers -
eating winter killed prey in addition to hunting their food.

Early settlers moving westward severely depleted most
populations of bison, deer, elk, and moose --
animals that were important prey for wolves.

With little alternative, the wolf then turned to the sheep
and cattle that had replaced its natural prey.

To protect livestock, ranchers and government agencies
began a campaign to eliminate the wolf.
Bounty programs, initiated in the 19th Century,
continued as late as 1965, offering $20 to $50 per wolf.
Wolves were trapped, shot from planes and snowmobiles,
and hunted with dogs.

Animal carcasses salted with strychnine were
left out for wolves to eat.
This practice killed millions of wolves and, indiscriminately,
also eagles ravens, foxes, bears, and other animals,
which also fed on the poisoned carrion.

These practices are still used today in areas
where wolves are not legally protected.

The gray wolf is listed under the Endangered Species Act
as a threatened species in Minnesota, and as an endangered species
elsewhere in the lower 48 states.

"Endangered" means a species is considered in danger of extinction
throughout all or a significant portion of its range, and
"threatened" means a species is considered in danger of becoming endangered.

In Alaska, wolf populations number 5,900 to 7,200
and are not considered endangered or threatened.

The Canadian wolf population is estimated 50,000.

Wolves seldom kill livestock.

In areas where wolves and livestock
co-exist, losses due to wolves is less than .5%
of total livestock losses.
Many more cows and sheep die of disease,
weather, attacks from dogs, or abandonment.

However, efforts are made to prevent or control
wolf related livestock losses.

In Minnesota, where the largest wolf population in lower
48 states resides, a special state program provides
compensation for livestock confirmed to be killed by wolves,
and a federal program provides for trapping, moving or
removing of individual wolves guilty of depredation.

Defenders of Wildlife established a private fund to reimburse
ranchers fair market value for livestock
losses due to wolf depredations.

Wolf recovery and management are very polarized, controversial, and
emotional issues often involving human attitudes
based more on myth than real wolves themselves.

Attitudes are often based on inaccurate information, making
wolf management perhaps more difficult than
any other wildlife management program.

For example, some people continue to carry the
unfounded fear that wolves attack people or
threaten outdoor activities.

In fact, wolves generally avoid humans.
There are no verified reports of healthy wild wolves
ever killing a human in North America.

Wolves could easily kill a human and perhaps will some day
- like other predators have on occasion
- but the threat of a wolf attack is much
less than being struck by lightning or killed by a cow.

Native Americans admired the gray wolf's cunning and
hunting abilities - and close family bonds.

However European settlers had another view...

Instead of respect and understanding,
many of these settlers feared and persecuted
wolves leading the species to near extinction in the
lower 48 states by the early part of the 20th Century.

Under large scale, government funded predator control programs;
wolves were hunted and killed with more malevolence and violence
than any other animal in United States history.

Second only to humans in its adaptation to climate extremes,
the gray wolf (Canis Lupis) was equally at home in the
deserts of Israel, the deciduous forests of Virginia, and the
frozen Arctic of Siberia.

The wolf was at one time, the most widely distributed
large land mammal in the world.

Within North America, gray wolves formerly ranged from
coast to coast throughout Canada down through Mexico.

The wolf is the ancestor of today's domestic dogs.

So next time you look at your cute puppy and loyal “best friend”, remember, his or her ancestor was the beaultiful, majestic, and often mis-understood animal, known as the Wolf.

Help Save the Alaskan Wolves!
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Support a National Wolf Recovery Plan
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