Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Wolves which batten upon lambs...."

"Wolves which batten upon lambs, lambs consumed by wolves, the strong who immolate the weak, the weak victims of the strong: there you have Nature, there you have her intentions, there you have her scheme: a perpetual action and reaction, a host of vices, a host of virtues, in one word, a perfect equilibrium resulting from the equality of good and evil on earth."

-Marquis De Sade


Wolves sniffing....
From Mech and Boitana (2003):  "Inside the nose of the dog, and presumably the wolf, the surface containing the olfactory receptors is much enlarged by extensive folding suported by a thin, bony structure (Hare 1975). This feature accomodates an estimated 280 million olfactory receptors, more than the number of visual receptors in the retina (Wieland 1938, cited in Moulton 1967)."

Wolves loping....
From Mech and Boitani (2003): "Wolves usually travel at a lope.  Since they are narrow-chested, and since their elbows are turned inward and their feet outward (Iljin 1941; Young and Goldman 1944), they put their feet one almost directly in front of the other as they walk.  They can maintain this tireless gait for hours at a rate of about 8-9 km/hr [4.9-5.6 mph, TB] (Burkholder 1959; Mech 1966, 1994......."

Coyotes risking....

Wolves searching for the next one they shall "immolate"....
From Mech and Boitani (2003):  "Reports of wolves killing coyotes are common (Seton 1929; Young and Goldman 1944; Munro 1947; Stenlund 1955; Carbyn 1982; Paquet 1991; Thurber et al. 1992).....By July 2001, at least twenty-seven coyotes had been killed by wolves in YNP [Yellowstone National Park-TB], eighteen (67%) near wolf kills when coyotes approached to scavenge.  There are no reported cases of coyotes killing wolves."

These video clips were taken during an ongoing student project initiated in January.  I hope to have many more videos and pictures of Wolves (Canis lupus) to share with you.  As for the direct quotes....I figure....what better voices to hear of wolves from than those of experts and poets?

Literature Cited:

Burkholder, B.L. 1959. Movements and behavior of a wolf pack in Alaska. Journal of Wildlife Management 23:1-11.

Carbyn, L.N. 1982. Coyote population fluctuations and spatial distribution in relation to wolf territories in Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba. Canadian Field Naturalist 96:176-183.

Hare, W.C.D. 1975. Carinvore respiratory system. Pp. 1559-1575 in Sisson and Grossman's The Anatomy of the Domestic Animals, 5th edition (R. Getty, ed.). W.B. Saunders.

Iljin, N.A. 1941. Wolf-dog genetics. Journal of Genetics 42:359-414.

Mech, L.D. 1966. The wolves of Isle Royale. U.S. National Park Service Fauna Series, no. 7. U.S. Government Printing Office.

Mech, L.D. 1994. Regular and homeward travel speeds of wolves. Journal of Mammalogy 75: 741-742.

Mech, L.D. and L. Boitani (eds.). 2003. Wolves: behavior, ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press.

Moulton, D.G. 1967. Olfaction in mammals. American Zoologist 7:421-429.

Munro, J.A. 1947. Observations of birds and mammals in central British Columbia. Occassional Papers of the British Columbia Provincial Museum no. 6.

Paquet, P.C., 1991. Winter spatial relationships of wolves and coyotes in Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba. Journal of Mammalogy 72:397-401.

Seton, E.T. 1929. Lives of game animals. Vol. 1: Cats, wolves and foxes. Doubleday, Doran and Co.

Stenlund, M.H. 1955. A field study of the timber wolf (Canis lupus) in the Superior National Forest, Minnesota. Technical Bulletin no. 4. Minnesota Department of Conservation, Minneapolis.

Thurber, J.M., R.O. Peterson, J.D. Woolington, and J.A. Vucetich. 1992. Coyote coexistance with wolves on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Canadian Journal of Zoology 70:2494-2498.

Young, S.P., and E.A. Goldman. 1944. The wolves of North America. American Wildlife Institute.


  1. Very impressive! Those are some majestic looking creatures. Hopefully you will be able to capture an interaction between the coyote and wolf.

  2. All that snow and cold is totally worth it if you can get a wolf on camera. I dream about California's lone wolf all the time. Hopefully he keeps working South into our Summer camera trapping lands.

  3. I'm late to comment, but wow....exciting stuff.

  4. Thanks, all!

    Camera traps provide great opportunities. 5-10 years ago, actually studying wolves would have mostly been off-limits to undergraduate researchers. Research on animals like wolves would have likely required trapping...OR...spending hours observing from a distance in remote locations. It's unlikely that undergraduates have had enough advanced applied experiences with animal trapping, handling or field surveys to carry out this type of work...particularly in regards to large, possibly dangerous, and endangered carnivores.

    But camera traps make these critters accessible for certain types of research endeavors.

    This is to the benefit of us all, if you ask me!