gray wolf, also known as the timber wolf, looks a bit like a shaggy
German Shepherd. They usually have a bushy tail and pointy ears.
Their fur can range from white to gray-brown to black. They can
weigh between 50 and 100 pounds, but average about 65 pound. The
wolf is currently on the Endangered Species list, but lives throughout
Michigan's Upper Peninsula. After almost becoming extinct by 1910,
a survey by Department of Natural Resources in 2001 found that at
least 278 wolves live in the UP.
April, wolves have litters of six to ten pups. The pups are born
in a den, usually a cave or underground burrow. The female Gray
wolves takes care of them for the first few weeks. After they are
weaned, the pups spend part of their day on their own at a "rendezvous
site" which is usually in a grassy meadow. Here they practice
their hunting on bugs and small rodents like mice. When the adult
wolves return from hunting they disgorge meat they have eaten so
that the pups can have it. They live in family units called packs.
These usually include an alpha (leader) male and an alpha female,
their pups, and a few other unrelated wolves. The average pack size
is about six, but this depends on how much
prey is available in its area.
A pack of wolves has a territory of about 100 square
miles. Wolves can trot without stopping for up to 20 hours, helping
them to cover large distances in a short amount of time. Wolves
hunt both alone and in packs. They prey mainly on deer, beaver,
rodents and other small animals. They eat their kill as quickly
as possible to keep other animals from stealing it. After eating
the best parts, wolves sometimes try to hide the rest for later.
They can eat up to 20 pounds of meat at one time and can go as long
as a week without eating again. Their digestion system is very efficient
so that they can eat again after only a few hours. Bits of sharp
bone in their stomachs become wrapped in hair that has also been
swallowed so that it doesn't poke or puncture their intestines.
They also eat berries, bugs, and grasses when prey is hard to find.
communicate with each other in many ways. They mark their territory
and use body language such as a lowered head or tail to let other
wolves know who is in charge or how they are feeling. Scientists
believe that they howl for many reasons such as calling the rest
of the pack after a kill or helping to reunite the pack as it roams
over its large territory. The low pitch of a howl helps it to travel
find out more about the gray wolf, check out the following links:
to Ecosystems of the Upper Peninsula