Why Wolves Really Howl

 

I have heard many people say that wolves do not bark when yes, they actually do. They also make a number of other sounds as well including the huffing sounds when they are alarmed or unhappy.

For those interested in more information on the sounds made by wolves, please check out this article that was published by by

Fred H. Harrington ,Professor of Ethology.

 

What's in a Howl?

Ask anyone about wolf vocalizations and the howl invariably springs to mind. Even though wolves bark, woof, whine, whimper, yelp, growl, snarl and moan a lot more often than they howl, it is howling that defines the wolf, and fascinates us. So why do wolves howl?





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Wolf Information

There are two species of wolves in North America.
Canis Lupus or the North American Grey Wolf, and Canis Rufus- the Eastern Red Wolf.

While the Canis Lupus is commonly called the Gray wolf or Canadian Timber, there are actually several different color phases. They are Gray, Black,White, Brown,Red and even Brindled.

The North American Gray wolf is said to be a survivor of the Ice Age, originating about 300,000 years ago.
The male matures to about 150 to 175 pounds though some have been known to be a good bit larger.

The wolf is a fur bearing animal which is one of the ways it differs from most dogs. During the winter wolves put on a very heavy under coat which insulates them from harsh winter weather. The outer hair or "Guard Hair" is much longer and is hollow inside. The hollow guard hair also helps to insulate the wolf from the harsh northern climates they are most likely to be found living in.

Wolves live in a structured society called a pack. Only the Alpha Male and Female mate. There are three social classes according to most authorities. The social classes are Alpha, Beta and Omega. The Alpha is the upper class, Betas are middle class and the Omega is the lower class. We personally have seen that there are actually at least two more transitional classes. These are classes where Alphas may be forced to a lower class by a stronger animal, or a Beta Moving upward because of a weaker Alpha. The same is true between the Beta and Omega classes.

Wolves are carnivorous  predators who generally live by following the herd animals in their home range.

Another interesting fact about wolves are that they are monogamous, meaning they mate for life.
While only the Alpha pair mate, every member of the pack look after the babies. In most packs, the Omegas will stay near the den with the cubs and protect them with their lives while the rest of the pack hunts.

While the term cub is used for the young by many, the term pup is also used. The difference is only one of professional opinion and both are correct.

The wolf has only three primary natural enemies that may be a threat to them in their territory. These natural enemies are Mountain Lions, Bears and Humans.

There are many stories designed to cause us to fear wolves, these are basically incorrect. Wolves are not a natural threat to humans, though just like any wild animal if they are cornered, hungry, sick wounded or have young, they may possibly attack humans. Sine humans are not on the food chain for wolves, humans are not generally in danger from wolves and wolves will more often than not avoid humans when possible.

Wolves are one of the natural predators of North America that is most important to a balanced ecosystem, preying primarily on weaker and sick herd animals. They keep the Moose, Elk and Deer herds moving and vigilant, thus making the herds stronger and more durable.

Wolves at one time could be found through out almost all of North America, though today there are few wolves compared to what once roamed across the country.

Canis Rufus, the Eastern Red Wolf is a much smaller wolf than the Canadian Timber.
The male Canis Rufus matures at around 100 to 125 pounds while the females somewhat smaller, mature at between 75 and 100 pounds.

The Eastern Red Wolf almost became extinct. There were less than four hundred left in existence
In 1972, Marlin Perkins and a group of experts gathered up the remaining Red Wolves into captivity. They were red in captivity and in the early 90's three releases were made. One in Tenneesee, one in North Carolina and one in South Carolina..Recovery for the Red Wolf, native to the East and South Eastern United States has been slow.

The small numbers left in existence has made it a very difficult process but today, there are more than 600 in existence.
While there will never be Red Wolves through out the Eastern Range they once traveled, they do still exist, for now at least.

At one time the howl of the wolves could be heard all across the United States. For many it is a frightening sound, for others, it is a very beautiful sound. Wolves do not as some people believe, howl at the moon. They howl to communicate with each other. If members of the pack become separated from the pack, they howl to locate the pack. Wolves have a distinctive howl and these howls can be heard by the pack as far as ten miles away.

Wolves also make many other sounds besides howling. They yip, bark, whine and converse with numerous different vocalizations. The deeper voices tend to belong to the more dominant wolves while subordinates tend to have a higher pitch howl. Cubs are generally not allowed to howl and are admonished for it because it would alert an invading pack or an enemy of the presence of cubs in the pack.

Howls are also used to warn other packs that they have entered an established pack territory. Since wolves are very territorial, they do not tolerate invasion easily.


 

Welcome to the Defend The Wolves Project.


We are embarking on a new journey. We believe that rescue is not alone, enough. we must find ways to do more. We believe that for our efforts to have a lasting effect we must also find ways to establish, re-establish and obtain land to create habitat for endangered species.


We are working on a united circle. A Balance of Nature that includes every area that is in danger, and a restoration of unity between man and our environment.
The first thing I would like to say is that being vulgar and rude is not going to cultivate support on either side of the argument. It simply demonstrates a lack of vocabulary.
There are many misconceptions on both sides of the isle. Many people on both sides of the argument have never even seen a wolf.
It is important to remember that no species lives in a box.


Wolves do not hunt for sport, they do hunt the weak and the sick. Rarely will they take on a strong adult animal, but it does happen, though not often.
The reason is simple. Survival. The Pack can not afford to lose members. Attacking a Bull Elk in his prime with a strong rack, would more often than not be a suicide mission.
The exception is, when there is no other choice.


Wolves will indeed kill cattle. Beef is not the food of choice, but an easy meal is an easy meal. We all like fast food once in a while.
The solution to this problem can be greatly resolved easy enough.


The majority of cattle killed by wolves are killed on public lands leased for grazing.
OK, public lands belong to all of us. If people leasing public lands for grazing do not want their cattle exposed to wolves, then lets not lease OUR public Lands to Private individuals any more.
Public Lands leased to private landowners, benefit private landowners and no one else.
The income from the leasing of public lands will not even repair the damage done to range land. And don't bother telling me grazing doesn't harm range land. It most certainly does. I was a ranch hand myself when I was younger. I have seen the damage.


Now lets clear up another fiction about wolves. First of all, wolves have NO fear of humans. They simply have no use for humans. Predators are more likely to attack out of fear than to attack because they are not afraid. The absence of fear does not increase the probability of attack, it can increase the possibility of contact depending on the situation.
Wolves however, tend to avoid humans, not out of fear, but due to the fact that there is no natural  reason for contact.
Avoidance of non interactive species is just a part of nature.


Real hunters who live off of the land and are not just out there to put a head on the wall know that strong natural predators, mean strong, healthy herds.
The absence of natural predators leaves selection solely in the hands of hunters who predate from the top down (Kill the strongest first).
This means that a greater number weaker animals survive than should, resulting in genetics from the shallow end of the gene pool.
This is evident in herds that have been absent of natural predators for too long. The end results will be a gathering of the rack in bucks and bulls. Tines will grow closer together at the tips, they will start to develop an arch that extends outward 30% or more above normal. The antler trunk size deprecates as well as over all body mass throughout the herd.
 A prime example of this kind of genetic degradation can be seen on a number of military reservations where there is a complete absence of natural predators as well as a ban on hunting.
Now for those folks who want to ban all hunting.


Sorry, that is an extinction road too. Before you fight for a total ban on hunting, maybe you might want to take a look at those same examples.


A total ban on hunting with the absence of natural predators results in species genocidal evolution.
In the real world a compromise between hunters and natural predators will not happen. Humans must be first.
Sorry hunters, but yes hunting done incorrectly can and has and does lead to species eradication. Eastern Bison case in point. Near extinction (Intentionally) of the Bison- Bison.
How do we fix what is wrong. And I think that most hunters and I mean real hunters understand that there is a problem.
First, I would like to qualify "hunter"


A hunter is not someone who goes out and shoots just for the fun of it. A true hunter eats what he kills and never takes more than he needs. This is the way of the warrior. Regardless of what Race or Tribe he may be from. A true hunter will respect the land as much as the environmentalist will.
Those who go out and kill for the fun of it are the very worst of all predators. There are such animals in the animal kingdom, such as the hyena. Then, there is man. Man not only kills any species he comes across for sport, he also kills his own kind as well, and sometimes this is done even for sport as well.

So yes, man will and has killed for sport and will continue to do so. Too many times, I have come across the remains of deer lying in the woods with noting removed but the head and a hindquarter. Anyone else who has spent their lives in the woods as I have, will have had the same experience too if they have lived long enough. A real hunter will be as angered by this action as much as I am.
So let’s not get all confused, there is a difference in a hunter and a “sport killer”.


So now that we understand all of these things, the question remains. What can we do that will help all of our species to remain and insure that they will last as long as man himself lives and walks on the earth?
Maintaining that wolves kill the healthy bulls and bucks is not a sound argument. How many heads do trophy hunters take?
Hunters want a compromise. OK, if you want the predators brought under control, then let’s bring the sport hunting under control as well. Fair is fair right?
There is one fact that has either been ignored or neglected. Wolves will control their own population. Given time, they will seek and find a balance. Almost all wild animals will do this to a point.
Now back to wolves killing cattle. If we stop leasing public lands to private individuals, then we can utilize this land as a wildlife buffer zone , nature based tourism, wildlife watching tourism and other non-invasive recreational purposes.


WASHINGTON -- Calling national wildlife refuges "economic engines," Interior Secretary Gale Norton touted a report released Thursday that said the refuge system generated $1.37 billion in economic benefits in 2004.
That is more than was generated by all Public Land grazing lease payments, which equaled $13,086,335.
It does not take a lot to understand that the area, which will benefit the most people as well as the wildlife, is wildlife refuges on Public Lands.
Wildlife Tourism generates billions of dollars as well in economic investment. Meaning that, it creates jobs, wildlife tourists spend money on equipment, lodging, food, and travel.
Can Alaska, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana as well as the other states with wolf populations really afford to miss out on this kind of economic development?
Logically, wolves are more important to state and national economy alive rather than dead.


It is time that we look at this issue from the facts and not from the emotions. Lets be realistic and be educated on the issues.
I urge that both sides of the isle back up and take a long look at the facts. Some things can be done with success, some things can not be accomplished in the short term.
If we the People are going to continue to have a country that will be worth handing down to our grandchildren, we are all going to have to work together to accomplish this goal.
As for the legislation that has been passed, I doubt that anyone believes that proper scientific research has been accomplished. It must be done in order to know the true level. That is what most of the Wildlife Organizations including ours has sought.


Until this has been accomplished, then we are managing wildlife based on politics. This is exactly what almost annihilated the bison-bison.
I respect everyone’s views. I may not agree with everyone, but I respect each and every opinion as long s it is expressed without disrespect to others.
I also believe that unless we all learn to work together and find resolutions, that we stand to lose far more than just the endangered species that many of us have fought to preserve for a long time.

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