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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.