The wolves, as do most other predators use rivers and the long icy creeks as a road system. We, here in Chisana are visited by three different wolf packs. Our most local pack averages between 7-10 wolves, whose route brings them home to us every 10 days or so. Each different pack has its own pattern of travel.
The Timber Wolf is a beautiful sight to see in the wild. That said, wolves have one purpose in life. That purpose is to reproduce and that takes a lot of meat.
Every once in a while, you get lucky, just being out and about. What you may be lucky enough to witness is more than one of the packs intersecting with each other. When more than one pack comes into the vicinity with another, it is quite the sight to see. At one point in the not so distant past, I saw 27 wolves within a one mile area.
The three wolf packs that live here in the Chisana Valley and Flats, usually and typically keep a substantial distance from each other’s turf. We have three major rivers that are within 50 miles of each other. The wolves use these as highways and cross roads. At times, they do cross paths.
There is so much more to know about these animals!
As a professional guide, a resident of the critter’s domain, and the personal need to “know,” I started pulling out the research. One of my favorite places to go when I have specific questions about a certain critter here in Alaska is Alaska’s Fish and Game website. Another place is the Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve website.
The Alaska Wildlife Notebook Series is a remarkable source of real-time and historical information. (I have these in my reading to study for my Registered Guide Test.)
I pulled out a lot of this information from both places and put together what I would want to know about any critter.
The Timber Wolf or The Grey Wolf
- Wolves are members of the family Canidae. Early taxonomists recognized about 24 New World and eight Old World subspecies of Canis lupus, with four subspecies thought to occur in Alaska.
- The pelt color of Alaska wolves ranges from black to nearly white, with every shade of gray and tan in between. Gray or black wolves are most common, and the relative abundance of each color phase varies over time and from place to place.
- Most adult male wolves in Interior Alaska weigh from 85 to 115 pounds, but they occasionally reach 145 pounds.
- Females average 10 to 15 pounds lighter than males and rarely weigh more than 110 pounds. Wolves reach adult size by about 1 year of age.
- Wolves are social animals and usually live in packs that include parents and pups of the year. The average pack size is six or seven animals, and pack members often include some yearlings and other adults.
- Packs of 20 to 30 wolves sometimes occur, and these larger packs may have two or three litters of pups from more than one female. In some cases a pair of wolves may not form a pack or belong to a pack, and will bring off a litter of pups.
- The social order in the pack is characterized by a separate dominance hierarchy among females and males.
- In most areas wolf packs tend to remain within a territory used almost exclusively by pack members, with only occasional overlap in the ranges of neighboring packs.
- Despite a generally high birth rate, wolves rarely become abundant because mortality is also high. In much of Alaska, the major sources of mortality are: predation by other wolves; hunting; and trapping.
- Predation by other wolves is a major cause of death because wolves defend their territories from other wolves.
- Wolves are carnivores, and in most of mainland Alaska moose and/or caribou are their primary food, with Dall sheep, squirrels, snowshoe hares, beaver, and occasionally birds, fish and in our case, horses as supplements in the diet.
- The rate at which wolves kill large mammals varies with prey availability and environmental conditions. A pack may kill a deer or moose every few days during the winter. At other times, they may go for several days with almost no food. Since wolves are opportunistic, young, old, or debilitated animals are preyed upon more heavily than healthy middle-age animals. Under some circumstances, however, such as when snow is unusually deep or prey is scarce, even animals in their prime may be vulnerable to wolves.
- Their range includes about 85 percent of Alaska’s 586,000 square-mile area. The wolf occurs throughout mainland Alaska, on Unimak Island in the Aleutians, and on all of the major islands in Southeast except Admiralty, Baranof, and Chichagof. Wolves are adaptable and exist in a wide variety of habitats extending from the rain forests of the Southeast Panhandle to the arctic tundra along the Beaufort Sea.
- Wolves have never been threatened or endangered in Alaska. They are found in nearly all of their historic range, excepting the center of urban areas, although they are found on the outskirts of Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau.
- Alaska is home to an estimated 7,000 to 11,000 wolves. Wolves have never been threatened or endangered in Alaska.
- Wolves are often seen and heard in most parts of Alaska by those willing to spend time in remote areas.
- The long term future of the wolf in Alaska is secure, and Alaska will probably continue to deal with the challenges related to the effects of wolf predation on big game populations for a long time.
~The cloud photo came from Face Book. I do not remember who shared it or who took it, but it wasn’t me ~ sadly!! It is wonderful, I thought and still do think!