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Wolves in MN. Minnesota Wildlife. Physical Characteristics. Conformation Largest member of dog family Weight – adult males 95-100 lbs., females 80-85 lbs.  Height – most adult wolves stand 26-32 inches, reaching as tall as 3 feet at the withers.

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Wolves in mn

Wolves in MN

Minnesota Wildlife

Physical characteristics
Physical Characteristics

  • Conformation

    • Largest member of dog family

    • Weight – adult males 95-100 lbs., females 80-85 lbs.

    •  Height – most adult wolves stand 26-32 inches, reaching as tall as 3 feet at the withers.

    • Length – males are 5-6 1/2 feet nose to tail tip, females are 4 1/2-6 feet.

    •  muscular, powerful and strong

    •  Long legs and large blocky feet

    •  Long furry tail

    • Long powerful muzzle to crush bones

Physical characteristics1
Physical Characteristics

  • Coat

    • 2 layers of fur

      • Underfur: short, soft and thick; insulation

      • Outerfur: long stiff hair; repels water

    • Variety of colors

      • White, buff, tawny, grayish, black

      • Black is dominant color in the north

Physical characteristics2
Physical Characteristics

  • Senses

    • Acute Smell

      • Detect over 1 mile away

      • 100 times better than human

      • Helps locate food (for survival)

    • Acute Hearing

      • Hear up to 4 miles

    • Sharp Vision

      • Detects movement

Species of wolf
Species of Wolf

  • Red Wolf (Canis Rufus)

  • Preferred habitat is Mexico, Southern India and Southeast and Southwest United States

  • Hybrid between the gray wolf and a coyote

  • Shorter, reddish outer coat and they live in warmer climates

  • An endangered species and protected by law.

  • Reintroduced back into the wild at the North Carolina Wildlife Refugee

Species of wolf1
Species of Wolf

2. Gray Wolf (Canis Lupus)

  • Also known as the Timber Wolf, Tundra Wolf, Arctic Wolf or Lobo.

  • Lives in the Northern Hemisphere.

    • Approximately 2500+ live in northern Minnesota.

  • Long pointed canine teeth or “fangs.”

  • Highly intelligent.

Relationship to dog
Relationship to Dog

  • Similarities

    • Original dog

    • Cross breeds: demiwolf (dog-wolf cross)

    • “Canidae” family: fox, dog, wolf and jackal

    • Same gestation, teeth, shed, vocalization

Relationship to dog1
Relationship to Dog

  • Differences

    • Scent gland: precaudal tail gland not in dogs

    • Wolves carry tail low; dogs have curled or high

    • Gait: hind legs swing in line with front legs

    • Wolves breed once/year; dogs breed twice

    • Skull: longer, wider and flatter than dogs

Relationship to dog2
Relationship to Dog

  • Population

    • Gray wolves “endangered” in most of US

    • “Threatened” in MN, WI, and MI

      • Threatened – approaching danger of extinction

      • Endangered: edge of being extinct

    • 15 million dogs unwanted and euthanized each year

    • About 5,250 wolves in lower 48 states (6,000-8,000 in Alaska)

Social structure
Social Structure

  • Pack

    • Highly structured

    • Partnership to hunt if prey is large/strong

    • One breeding pair and offspring (1 pack)

    • Pack size: 2-20

    • Average size: 6

Social structure1
Social Structure

  • Social System

    • Pecking Order/Dominance Order-individual ranking

    • Social ladder-each member has rank

    • Alpha male/female-highest male/female

    • Others:

      • Mature Subordinates

      • Juveniles

      • Outcast/Omega-lowest

    • Rank established when pups: 3 weeks old

Wolf communication
Wolf Communication

  • Purpose

    • Pack presence

    • Maintain territory

    • Assert dominance

  • Methods

    • Audible: howl, bark, whimper, or growl

    • Visual: posture, tail movement, and facial expression

    • Olfactory: body rubbing, rolling and ritual displays (urine and gland excrements)

Wolf communication1
Wolf Communication

  • Howling

    • Use to:

      • Keep track of wolves within a pack

      • Assemble the pack

      • Declare territory

      • Announce a kill

      • Declare unification of a pack

        *Prey animals generally ignore howling

See overhead

Reproductive stages of the wolf
Reproductive Stages of the Wolf

  • Courtship

    • February-April

    • Male initiates: bows down to female, shows interest through wagging tail, nipping, or mounting

    • Female returns affection by lifting tail (indicates receptivity)

Reproductive stages of the wolf1
Reproductive Stages of the Wolf

2. Mate Preference

  • Alpha male will only breed alpha female

  • Female will seek other mate if alpha male not available

  • One female (alpha) gives birth to pups

    • If something happens to her, the next in line will be bred

Reproductive stages of the wolf2
Reproductive Stages of the Wolf

3. Denning

  • Gestation: 60-63 days

  • Female digs den 3 weeks prior to birth

    • Burrow type den – underground

  • Dens has tunnel as entrance with chamber at the end (6-14 feet)

  • Placed near water on high plane (for lookout post)

  • Pups remain in den until 8-11 weeks old

Reproductive stages of the wolf3
Reproductive Stages of the Wolf

4. Whelping and pup development

  • Litter size: 4-7 pups

  • Whelping: 2-3 hours (giving birth)

  • Entire pack raises pups

  • Mortality high: 50% in 1st year

  • Pups begin hunting at 3-5 months

  • Yearlings join pack or leave

Hunting and feeding
Hunting and Feeding

  • Digestive system

    • Carnivore – “Meat eater”

    • Simple stomach – easily digest fat and protein

    • Storage – storage; 95% will be digested

Hunting and feeding1
Hunting and Feeding

2. Feeding habits

  • 20 pounds of prey at once

  • Does not eat daily (consumes entire prey)

  • Females feed pups meat with regurgitation

  • Immediately eat catch; may bury large pieces of meat

  • 6-10 hours to consume

Hunting and feeding2
Hunting and Feeding

3. The Hunt

  • Primary prey is white tailed deer

  • Target weak, crippled, or old prey-easier to catch

  • Locate prey by:

    • Scent

    • Chance encounter

    • Tracking

Hunting and feeding3
Hunting and Feeding

The Hunt continued…

  • Four stages to hunt

    • Stalking: the first method of attack

    • Encounter: prey detects the predator

    • The rush: critical stage because determines if wolf catches prey

    • The chase: only lasts a few miles or minutes

      *Wolf quickly decides if prey is worth the chase

Purpose of wolf protection
Purpose of Wolf Protection

  • Effects of Predation

    • Food chain reaction

      • Carcass of prey decomposes adding nutrients to soil

      • Vegetation grows from nutrient rich soil

      • Vegetation attracts small rodents and animals (rabbits, etc)

      • Small animals provide food for predators (fox, etc)

      • Remains of prey provide food (ravens, eagles, weasels, etc)

Purpose of wolf protection1
Purpose of Wolf Protection

  • Scientific research

    • Study ecology of natural communities and predator-prey relationships

      • Sociology

      • Behavior sciences

  • Aesthetic and Economic Value

    • Tourism

    • Enjoy watching nature (beauty)

History of wolf protection
History of Wolf Protection

  • Early settlement and livestock were killed

  • Bounty hunting became popular (1900-1950’s)

  • Federal protection laws established (1960’s)

  • Wolves research and not the enemy

  • Yellowstone Park re-introduction to control elk population

  • Minnesota controversy

    • Should wolf remain as “threatened”

Minnesota wolf population
Minnesota Wolf Population

  • 1973: 500 to 1,000

  • 1979: 1,235

  • 1989: 1,500 to 1,750

  • 1998: 2,450

  • 2004: 3,020 (485 packs)

What habitat is favored by wolves
What habitat is favored by wolves?

1. Wolves prefer forested areas that are remote, and inaccessible by humans.

2. Prefer an area that has prey availability. The higher the prey supply the higher the population.

3. Wolves’ primary habitat in Minnesota is in the northeast and north central forested areas.

What habitat is favored by wolves1
What habitat is favored by wolves?

  • Wolves utilize dens dug into sandy hillsides for raising pups. They also may use large trees, hollow logs, or caves for denning.

  • Adult wolves prefer bedding sites that allow them to over look the den. This kind of habitat allows the wolves to detect intruders.

What habitat is favored by wolves2
What habitat is favored by wolves?

6. Wolves are very territorial and will chase or kill any outside wolf intruders that come into the pack’s established territory. Their ranges may overlap but territories are well established and will never overlap intentionally.