Contrary to popular opinion, dogs and modern wolves are not related. Although they show similarities, current research shows that both species evolved from a common ancestor about 34,000 years ago before splitting into two separate species.
Wolves live in packs of 2-3 animals or 10 times that many and have strong family ties. Wolves usually mate for life and it is, generally, only the alpha female and male that will mate in order to produce the strongest pups and to maintain the population of the pack. The other females are usually so afraid of the alpha female that they often do not go into heat. They do, however, help raise the pups and serve as “baby sitters”. Lower ranking males do not mate at all and suffer from a condition known as “psychological castration”.
Wolf pups are born deaf and blind and weigh one pound. Their eyes are blue at birth and, by 8 months, turn yellow. In order for a newborn wolf to be able to urinate the mother must massage the belly with her tongue.
Unlike other animals, wolves use a variety of facial expressions to communicate and maintain pack unity. They howl to contact separated members of the pack, to rally for hunting, to warn other rival wolves away and to attract mates. Lone wolves will howl simply because they are alone. Wolves will also respond to human howls. A wolf’s howl lasts for 5 seconds though, when other wolves join in, the howls appear to be longer.
Wolves can hear as far as 6 miles away in a forest and 10 miles away in open tundra. They can run about 20 – 40 miles per hour and can travel all day at this speed. Their jaws have the crushing pressure of 1500 pounds per square inch (compared to 750 for a large dog). They have 42 teeth that are specialized for stabbing, shearing and crushing bones and their jaws open farther than a dogs. A hungry wolf can eat 20 pounds of meat in a single meal which compares to a human eating 100 hamburgers.
Wolves are usually non-aggressive and, with good reason, are afraid of humans. It is because of humans that there are likely fewer than 7,000 gray wolves left in the entire lower 48 states. They normally have a lifespan of 6 – 8 years unless cut short by trophy hunters coveting their pelts or farmer’s falsely accusing them of eating their cattle.
Wolves are responsible for less than two tenths of a percent (.2%) of cattle deaths. 94% of losses are due to non-predator related causes such as disease, weather, calving problems, etc.
Unless stricter laws are passed and wolves are protected against ignorant farmers and murdering trophy hunters these majestic animals will disappear from our earth in a matter of years. Please let your State Representatives know that you want wolves to be considered an endangered species and your vote will depend upon the opinion of that reps view on the importance of wolves.