Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Misunderstood Wolf

One of the most misunderstood animals in my opinion is the wolf. 
We met these amazing creatures at the Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Sanctuary
In North America there were 24 different species of wolves--the Alaskan Tundra Wolf, Alexander Archipelago Wolf, Arctic Wolf, Baffin Island Wolf, Bernard’s Wolf, British Columbia Wolf, Cascade Mountain Wolf, Eastern Timber Wolf, Great Plains Wolf, Greenland Wolf, Hudson Bay Wolf, Interior Alaskan Wolf, Kenai Peninsula Wolf, Labrador Wolf, Mackenzie Tundra Wolf, Mackenzie Valley Wolf, Manitoba Wolf, Mexican Wolf, Mogollon Mountain Wolf, Newfoundland Wolf, N. Rocky Mountain Wolf, S. Rocky Mountain Wolf, Texas Gray Wolf, and the Vancouver Island Wolf.  Sadly, the Texas Gray, S. Rocky Mountain, Newfoundland, Mogollon Mountain, Manitoba, Kenai Peninsula, Greenland, Cascade Mountain, British Columbian and the Bernard’s Wolf are all extinct, due mostly to indiscriminate hunting.

The Vancouver, N. Rocky Mountain, Mackenzie Valley, Labrador, Hudson Bay, Great Plains, and the Eastern Timber Wolf are all subspecies to the Gray Wolf.  The Interior Alaskan is the largest wolf species in North America at 5-7 feet from nose to tip of tail. 
Wolves can be very affectionate with those accepted into their pack
This past summer I went to Divide, Colorado where I came across an amazing sanctuary called Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Sanctuary.  The staff not only taught my husband and I all about wolves, but they showed us the animals’ great “personalities.”

One thing that made a big impression on me is that they mate for life, which a number of other animal species do also.  However, if a wolf loses its mate it mourns for life and very rarely finds another mate.  They will also mourn for other wolves that have died in the pack.  I am a huge family person, so this hit me hard. 
Wolves live in a family called a pack 
One of the wolves at CWWS lost her mate due to an illness.  It is believed she howled every night for six months for her lost mate.  It was noted that all the other wolves in the sanctuary never howled when she was howling.  In this six month period the sanctuary tried to put other wolves in her enclosure that she got along with previously to see if that would help her.   However, she would fight any other wolf that came near her.  This behavior continued until the day the sanctuary received an orphaned wolf pup.  They were looking for a wolf to foster the pup and to their surprise the lonely she wolf took him in instantly.  The people at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Sanctuary never thought their girl would ever accept another wolf, but this orphaned pup seemed to steal her heart.  To this day they are inseparable, and she is very protective of him.  

Wolves are a very important part of our environment and have a lot to teach us if we just observe.

Submitted by Christina McAlpin, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

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