The Wolf Page

Some facts about my favorite animal.

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Wolf Eyes First deer of season Along the border Wolves    

Wolf Eyes

Two of Bonnie's favorite things - wolves and cats

First Deer of the Season   

From our friends at the Gunflint Pines

Sunset on the Gunflint   

Looking into Canada on the border of the BWCAW

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Wolves from Wolf Park

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Some information on Wolves!

The following information came from  ...Web Wolf

     There has been no other animal so misunderstood, feared, hated, and persecuted through-out time as the wolf. The gray wolf, also called the timber wolf, is the largest of about 41 wild species within the dog family, Canidae, of the order Camivora. With the exception of the red wolf of southeastern Texas and southern Louisiana, all living wolves are considered a single species, Canis lupus. The red wolf, Canis rufus, is similar to but smaller than the gray wolf and is intermediate in many characteristics between wolves and coyotes; it has been suggested that the red wolf is a fertile cross between gray wolves and coyotes.

Characteristics of the wolf

Wolves vary in size depending on their geographic location. The gray wolf size is about 5 to 6.5 feet from nose to tip of tail and they can weigh 40 to 175 pounds. Their coat colors can vary from pure white, which is most common in the far north, to mottled gray to brown or black. The red wolf is often a reddish tan color.

Habitats and Range

Wolves can live in a variety of habitats, ranging from arctic tundra to forest and prairie. They are absent from deserts and the highest mountains. At one time the wolf ranged throughout most of the northern hemisphere, north Africa, and south Asia. In the Old World wolves still roam throughout many regions of Asia, eastern Europe and, in very small numbers, western Europe and Scandinavia. Most New World wolf populations are in Canada and Alaska, where they are relatively stable; a small population exists in Mexico. Of the 48 contiguous states only Minnesota has a wolf population large enough to maintain itself. Wolves have been reported at scattered locations around the United States, including Isle Royale, in Lake Superior, and in Michigan, Montana, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Government plans to reintroduce wolves into what was once their native habitat have met with opposition from ranchers and hunters.
 The den, or lair, of the wolf may be a cave, a hollow tree trunk, a thicket, or a hole in the ground dug by the wolf.

Social Behavior

The basic social unit of wolf populations is the pack, which usually consists of a mature male and female plus offspring one or more years of age. Pack size can reach 36, but usually two to eight individuals are present. Each pack ranges over its own area of land, or territory--which may vary from 50 to 5,000 sc mil and will defend all or much of this area against intruders. Members form strong social bonds that promote internal cohesion. Order is maintained by a dominance hierarchy. The pack leader, usually a male, is referred to by behaviorists as the alpha male. The top-ranking (alpha) female usually is subordinate to the alpha male but dominant over all other pack members.

When two wolves meet, each shows its relationship to the other by indicating dominance or submission through facial expression and posture. Additional modes of wolf communication are howling and other vocalizations and scent marking. One function of howling is to communicate position or assemble the pack; advertisement of territory to neighbors is probably another. Scent marking involves deposition of urine or feces on conspicuous objects along travel routes, usually by dominant wolves. This behavior appears to function in territory maintenance and in intrapack communication.

During the course of each year wolf packs alternate between a stationary phase from spring through summer and a nomadic phase in autumn and winter. Activities during the stationary phase involve caring for pups at a den or home site. During summer most movements are toward or away from the pups, and adults often travel and hunt alone.

By autumn pups are capable of traveling extensively with the adults, so until the next whelping season the pack usually hunts as a unit throughout its territory. In tundra areas wolf packs follow herds of caribou in their annual migrations.

The Life Cycle

Usually only the highest ranking male and female in a pack will breed. The breeding season can vary from January in low latitudes to April in high latitudes. Pups are born about 63 days after breeding; an average litter is six pups. The mother wolf stays close to her young for the first two months while other pack members bring food. Pups are weaned at about the fifth week. The pups approach adult size by autumn or early winter. Sexual maturity usually is attained at two years.

The major prey for the wolves are large hoofed mammals, including deer, moose, elk, caribou, bison, musk-oxen, and mountain sheep. Beaver is eaten when available. In summer a variety of smaller foods, such as small rodents and berries, supplement the diet. Animals killed are usually young, old, or otherwise weaker members of their populations because they are easiest to capture. Healthy wolves rarely, if ever, attack humans. Mortality factors affecting wolves include persecution by humans, killing by other wolves, diseases, parasites, starvation, and injuries by prey. Probably few wolves live more than ten years in the wild.


Myth and Reality

     Although the wolf is still cast as a blood-thirsty villain in folklore and children's stories, the public's image of wolves is improving; interest in their preservation is growing. Several scientific studies have disclosed the wolfs role in natural ecosystems and have done away with some of the misconceptions that have surrounded this colorful and complex animal for centuries.

Feral children are those said to have been nurtured and reared by animals in the wild. There have been more than 40 recorded cases of children being reared by animals, from a 14th-century Hessian wolf child to such 20th-century cases as a gazelle boy in the Western Sahara and a wolf boy in Sultanpur, India. Most of the evidence for these cases, however, has been secondhand and lacking in essential detail, and no one case has afforded conclusive proof.

The best documented account of feral children is that of the wolf children of Midnapore, India, who were dug out of a wolf den by an Anglican missionary, the Reverend J.A.L. Singh, in 1920. Singh claimed that he personally rescued the children after having seen them living with the wolves. Although the children developed some social skills and the rudiments of language, they never became completely normal, and they died young.

Fictionalized accounts of feral children have recurred throughout history, from the legend of ROMULUS AND REMUS to the more recent fictions of Mowgli in Rudyard Kipling's JUNGLE BOOK(~894) and TARZAN OF THE APES in several works by Edgar Rice Burroughs. They have been the themes of the films The Wild Child 1970) by Francois Truffauit and The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser(1974) by Werner Herzog. The latter, derived from the novel by Jakob WASSERMAN, is also based on a true case.

In European folklore, is a man who at night transforms himself or is transformed into a wolf (a process called lycanthropy) and roams in search of human victims to devour. The werewolf must return to human form at daybreak by shedding his wolfs skin and hiding it. If it is found and destroyed, the werewolf dies. A werewolf who is wounded immediately reverts to his human form and can be detected by the corresponding wound on his body. Similar creatures exist in folklore worldwide: the tiger, boar, hyena, and even cat are were-animals in areas where wolves are not found.

The following came from the International Wolf Center

The International Wolf Center supports the survival of the wolf around the world by teaching about its life, its association with other species and its dynamic relationship to humans.

Are Wolves Dangerous to Humans?

There has been much debate on whether or not wolves are dangerous to humans. Some 19 million visitor days have been recorded in Minnesota's Superior National Forest without any wolf attacks. Millions of safe visitor days are recorded at parks and wilderness areas in Canada and Alaska as well.

Historically, wolves were persecuted by humans throughout much of their range. Probably because of this, most wolves are shy and avoid humans. This has given rise to the quote that "there has never been a documented case of a healthy, wild wolf killing a human in North America" - a quote which is still true. Yet, in some rare cases wolves have become fearless of humans and the result has led to serious injury and in some countries, even death.

In September 1998, at Canada's Algonquin Provincial Park, a 19-month-old boy was grabbed around the chest by a wolf and tossed three feet. The infant received minor injuries and was treated at a hospital and released the same day. This situation was preceded that summer by other encounters with this wolf which had become fearless of humans and frequented campsites.

Also in Algonquin, in August 1996, an 11-year-old boy was grabbed around the head by a wolf while the boy was sleeping out on the ground. The boy was seriously injured and received 80 stitches. However, the wolf may have been attempting to simply grab the boy's sleeping bag. There was a tear in the sleeping bag that suggests the wolf had tried unsuccessfully to tug the bag away before taking another try and grabbing the boy's head. While studying wolves on Ellesmere Island, wolf biologist Dr. L. David Mech has had arctic wolves on two occasions try to grab empty sleeping bags. Wolves, like dogs, seem attracted to soft, fluffy or fur-like items, which they enjoy playing with and ripping apart. The same wolf that grabbed the 11-year-old boy had been seen days earlier taking tennis shoes and food from people in the area. Here again a wolf had become fearless of humans and may have been rewarded (fed) during his exploits near campsites.

Fearless wolves have also been a concern in India. Wolves there roam freely around remote villages. In 1996, 64 children were seriously injured or killed on the outskirts of small villages in one area of the country. In some of the cases, evidence collected by a U.S.-trained Indian wolf biologist points to one or more wolves being involved. In 1997, another 9 or 10 children fell prey to wolves in the same region. Some authorities believe there may even be an incentive for parents to neglect their children. When children are killed by wild animals in India, parents are compensated at a rate higher than an average annual salary. Also, the density of wild prey in India is low and livestock are very well attended. This combination of lack of fear, low prey abundance, and the presence of many unsupervised children may promote in some wolves the tendency to experiment with killing children as prey.

In North America, there have been no verified reports of wolves killing humans. In fact, encounters which have ended in contact between wolves and humans have been rare. With the possible exception of the 1998 incident in Algonquin, incidents seem to have been the result of mistaken identities, defensive reactions, or a person getting between a wolf that was attacking a dog.

It is important to keep wolf-human encounters in perspective. Most wolves are not dangerous to humans and there is a greater chance of being struck by lightning or killed by a bee sting than being injured by a wolf. The serious injuries which have occurred were caused by a few wolves that became fearless of humans. Nonetheless, like bears or cougars, wolves are instinctive predators that should be kept wild and respected.


Bishop, Norman A. Child Lifting' by a Wolf in India. International Wolf; 1998. 8(4): 17-18.

Mech, L. David. Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?' Revisited. International Wolf; 1998. 8(1): 8-11.

Mech, L. David. Wolves and 'Child Lifting' in India. International Wolf; 1996. 6(4): 16.

Mech, L. David. Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? International Wolf; 1992. 2(3): 3-7.

Route, Bill. Wolf-Human Incidents in Algonquin Provincial Park. International Wolf; 1999. 9(1): 15-16.



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