Grey wolves are one of the most iconic animals on earth. Their howl mystifies us. Their nature leaves us in aw and wonder. Some people view the wolf as a savage killer, others a misunderstood friend. There is more to the grey wolf than meets the eye.
Depending on the location, grey wolves eat a wide variety of animals. They eat bison, deer, moose, musk oxen, rodents, birds, and carrion. Wolves generally hunt in packs, using teamwork too score a meal. They locate their prey using their acute sense of smell and hearing. The larger the pack, the more successful the odds of eating. Solitary wolves eat more rodents and less large animals. A pack of wolves can occupy a territory of up to 200 square miles. All of the prey in their territory is theirs for the taking.
Gray wolves have a strict hierarchy. The pack is made up of the alpha male and female, lesser wolves and the alpha pair’s young, and then members that are weakest at the bottom of the pecking order. Only the alpha pair can breed, and they are not afraid to show who is boss. Lesser wolves may have bits of their ear missing, and intruding wolves are often killed. But wolves are not bloodthirsty killers. When they are not hunting, wolves will often snuggle or play with their pack mates.
Grey wolves were nearly pushed to extinction because people wanted to protect themselves and their livestock. Wolves began to hunt sheep and cows because they were much easier to kill than deer or bison. Ranchers killed wolves with guns, poison, explosives, and traps. Wolves only began to make a comeback as recently as 1990, when conservation groups began re-introducing them to areas that they once occupied.