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To know the wolf is to know his or her story.
Many interesting facts and figures can be learned about wolves, like having 42 teeth, sprinting up to 40 mph, and eating up to 20 lbs. in one sitting. These facts are fun and interesting, but they tell us nothing about the social lives of wolves, their complex relationships, and unique personalities. They reveal nothing of the wolf to whom family cooperation is key to survival, who experience joy and tragedy, who care for their young, old and sick - who lead short but full lives. It is their stories that take us into their world and give us a glimpse of who the wolf is.
Thanks to astute and dedicated scientists and researchers who have recorded decades of field observations of wolves living in the wild, the inner life of wolves is less of a mystery. Each wolf is unique and each story is unique. These are stories taken from the field about wolves living freely in the wild.
"They often lived, right out in front of us, what seemed like epic lives". Doug Smith, Yellowstone wolf biologist, Decade of the Wolf
Pups are the treasure of the wolf family. All wolves love pups and they dote over them! All members of the family help to care for them, feed them, teach them and play with them. This is called cooperative raising of the pups. Only 5% of mammal species cooperatively care for their young in this way (1). Yearlings develop among the closest bonds with the pups. It's the yearling who often, but not solely, takes on the role of "babysitter" while the other adults are out finding food. This relationship and the responsibilities it requires to help care for the pups helps the yearlings learn the skills they need to become good parents.
It Takes a Family - From Among Wolves by Gordon Haber & Marybeth Holleman
It's late August 2009 and three females of the Toklat family in Alaska are moving three pups to a new location within their territory. What starts out as a stroll along the river turns into a treacherous river crossing for the pups. How will they cross safely? Thankfully they have a yearling sister who is attentive and quick acting.
Click here for the story and images.
Image by Dr. Gordon Haber
(1) Cooperative breeding and monogamy in mammalian societies - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3321711/
More stories to come!
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