Wolf Population Essay, Research Paper
Wolf Population The population of humans directly affects the population of canis lupus (gray wolf) and other wolf species. Some people think wolves are blood-thirsty, savage man killers, but in actuality, the wolf is usually more afraid of us. One of the many things that wolves have been compared to is the lions of Africa (Wexo 6). Lions are gentle and harmless unless provoked or threatened directly, and wolves are the same way. “Like lions, wolves live in groups. Like lions they are meat-eating animals that work together to catch their prey. And like lions, wolves can be beautiful animals. In fact some of them even have thick ruffs of hair that look like the manes of lions.” (Wexo 6). This is not a paper about lions relation to wolves, but rather a paper that address issues such as the wolf family, and hunting, myths and recovery. Populations of wolves have varied from five all the way to around forty-five in Wisconsin and the pattern has been the same in Saginaw and all over the USA (Data 3). From the research I ve done, I have found that there is a multitude of web pages and information on wolves, but recalling from a special on the Discovery Channel, I have recalled that before the “white people” came over from Europe, the Indians treated the wolves with respect. Indians regarded the wolf as a high form of life, and to be named after one was a great honor. In the past, wolf populations were quite low compared to today, which are climbing up and out of the endangered species list via recovery plans. The population in the United States of America today is now up to around nine-thousand-two-hundred wolves, and in Russia alone there are thirty-thousand (Data 3). People have, in the past, poisoned wolves because they may have eaten their livestock, and because of this they got the reputation of a man killer. The fact that they ate livestock doesn t mean that they were man killers, it means that they were an animal that reacted naturally when humans came into the picture. The movie business is one of the biggest myth-portrayers of the wolf ever. The myth of the werewolf has caused much fear in human society and continues to make the human imagination ponder and fear the mystical wolf. The wolf s body is made to hunt. Everything from the Canine teeth to the tail is made to take down prey. The outer fur on a wolf can get up to two and one-half inches long and has 3 “capes” that act as a rain coat to protect the wolf against rain, snow and the elements. The feet of a wolf are huge in comparison to a dog s, they can get up to five and one-fourth inches long (Wexo 8). They need these huge paws to run fast and to help them take down prey. They have five toes on their front two paws and four toes on their rear two paws . The wolves run on the toes to extend their leg-length to make them run faster, and the extra toe on the front foot helps them pounce on unsuspecting animals (Wexo 8). The teeth on the wolf consist of three different kinds of teeth. The front teeth in the wolf are small and are called the incisor teeth, and they are used to pick meat from the bones of their prey. The largest number of teeth are what are known as the carnassial teeth, they are used to chew and grind up the meat that they have pick from the bones with their incisor teeth and line the jaw line. The canine teeth, also know as the “fangs,” are located in the front of the mouth and are used to catch and hold prey until they are dead (Wexo 12). One of the most fascinating things that was discovered in the process of research would have to be the complexity and social status of the wolf pack. The wolf pack averages about seven or eight wolves per pack and the dominance order of the pack is formed via a hierarchy. The top two wolves in the hierarchy are known as the alpha male and alpha female. Only the alpha male is allowed to mate with the alpha female. The next wolf/wolves down on the social ladder is/are known as the beta male and/or female. The process goes all the way down to the weakest wolf in the pack that has the status equal to that of a servant (Wexo 12). The more dominate wolves carry their tails higher than lesser wolves (Wexo 13). When the wolves have a disagreement amongst themselves, both wolves bare teeth and snarl, the looser ends up on his back with the winner standing over him (Wexo 12).
Dominance order is established whilst still in puppy-hood. By the time the puppies are four weeks old, the puppies begin fight for alpha pup by so-called “play fighting”, and in such establish a hierarchy among themselves (George 8). When the puppies are born “they arrive blind and deaf, they can t even smell. Each weighs only one pound” (George 1). Usually there are four to six puppies born in each litter inside a den. After about thirteen days, the puppies open their eyes and see the world for the first time. After another six months, the former puppies begin to dabble in their tradition of the hunt (Johnson 3). A wolf can need several caribou a year (Jans 1). Wolf packs hunt most of the time within a specific territory. Territories can be as big as fifty square miles or more depending on food availability (Gray 1). “When a wolf pack hunts, the members of the pack work together as a team” (Wexo 16). If a choice is there to be made, a wolf pack will prefer to hunt a larger animal, but when food supply is short, the wolves will eat mice found in the fields (Wexo 16). However, the supply of food isn t endangered in the United States of America, in fact there is an overpopulation of deer. Because of this overpopulation, the number of car accidents relating to deer has risen and the hunters now try to compensate for it. The reintroduction plans for wolves have been and are currently being executed all across the United States. One of these recovery plans is known as the North American Wolf Association (NAWA). The North American Wolf Association s mission statement is “to support the cause of the wolf as an endangered species and to commit to the restoration of wolves back into their natural habitats through recovery, captive breeding and reintroduction” (Wolves). According to James Hammill, at one time, all of what is now Michigan was home to wolves, however, the pattern of habitat destruction, wolf persecution and extirpation by humans continued into Michigan and lowered the population. Also according to James Hammill, the number of wolves bountied in 1956 was 30, and in 1960, Michigan repealed the bounty and in 1965 granted the wolf full protection by law. Another group like this is called the red wolf recovery group. And so to recap, wolves have been persecuted in the past, and driven out of the United States into Canada and Alaska. The wolves are carnivores, and they must hunt to eat, and because there is an absence of them, the deer-related car accidents has elevated. Mostly on the part of the movie business, the myth of the man-killer was created and this is what most humans fear when they see a wolf, but there has never been an account of a wolf attacking a healthy human. And thus the final hope for wolves lies within the teaching of the truth to everyone.