Absolute Predator

 

 

Timber Wolf Howling

North American Timber Wolf

 

The North American Gray Wolf, also known as the timber wolf, is the largest wild member of the dog family. A large male wolf can be over three feet tall at the shoulder and weigh as much as 130 pounds. Females are generally about 20% smaller. Their thick double-layered coats might be white, gray, brown, red, or black.

 

When measured from nose to the tip of the tail, adult gray wolves are generally between 40 and 80 inches long, with narrow chests and powerful legs that can propel them to 40 miles per hour.


History of the Timber Wolf
Timber wolves once ranged much of North America, but now only Canada, Alaska, and a few pockets in some of the northern US states sustain healthy breeding populations. As human populations have expanded, the wolves’ habitat has become smaller and smaller. Seen as a threat to domestic stock, many of the carnivores have been killed by man.


Timber Wolf Behavior
Wolves are social animals and live in packs made up of several animals that are usually related. The average size pack is comprised of 6 or 7 individuals, but some packs might have almost 20 members. Each pack has a leader called an alpha, usually the biggest, strongest male. The alpha determines hunts and makes other critical decisions for the pack.


Each pack has its own territory, with a range of over 250 square miles. If food and water sources are abundant, a pack’s range will be smaller. In some areas, one pack’s territory might overlap another pack’s hunting range, but wolf packs prefer not to encounter each other. When they do, a fight ensues. In some areas, half of all wolf deaths are caused by other wolves. Wolves will also kill members of their own pack when one is injured or ill.

 

New packs are started when a wolf breaks from the group and becomes a “lone wolf” until it finds a mate and begins its own family group.


Timber Wolf Breeding
Wolves mate for life and breed in late winter or early spring, depending on the region. Usually only the alpha male and the alpha female are allowed to breed, but the entire pack helps in the raising of the young. Occasionally, the alpha male will mate with one or more subordinate females in addition to the alpha female.

 

In spring and summer, while the pups are small, the pack’s hunts center near the home den. By autumn, the pups are strong enough to join the adults on hunts.


Hunting
Wolves are apex predators and are typically at the top of the food chain. Hunting is usually a group affair and takes place at night. Timber wolves are opportunistic feeders and hunt elk, deer, moose, caribou, bison, Dall sheep, birds, beaver, rabbits, fish, and even insects. Many hunts are relatively short – about 100 yards – but some can be over 3 miles long. When there is a proper balance between hunter and prey, the wolf helps keep prey animal populations healthy by killing the old and sick, which are generally the easiest targets. Wolves also target young animals and pregnant females, since they’re not as swift as the rest of the heard. When food is scarce, wolves will resort to cannibalism in order to survive.

 

  

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