I chose to write about the gray wolf today because I just finished reading Jodi Picoult’s latest novel Lone Wolf. There is so much to learn about this endangered species and although her book is fiction, she intersperses fascinating data about the wolf throughout the story.
The gray wolf is the largest of the canines and can reach a weight of 80 pounds and 5 to 6.5 feet in length, often living up to 13 years. It is also known as the timber wolf, the arctic wolf and the tundra wolf. It can reach up to 45 mph in a short sprint and can also run up to 25 mph for several miles. They have an excellent sense of smell and hearing.
When in packs, they seek large prey such as moose, elk, bison or deer and when alone they hunt hare or beavers. They’re well known for their howling which they do to help members of the pack keep in touch and communicate over long distances as well as a way to summon pack members to specific locations, as a declaration of territory, or to claim fresh kills.
A wolf pack consists of two parents, their offspring, and a few other non-breeding adults. The females give birth to five or six pups who remain with the pack for up to three years, later leaving to search for their own life-long mates and to develop their own packs.
There are an estimated 11,000 to 13,000 wolves in the fifty states with perhaps 200,000 worldwide. In earlier times there were over 2 million. The main threat to their survival is hunting and trapping because certain people think they are a nuisance and they’ve also lost much of their habitat due to human encroachment into their natural territories.
Interested in hearing their howl?