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Social Behavior Of The Wolf

The basic social unit of wolf populations is the pack. Packs usually consist of between five and eight members, although packs as large as thirty wolves or more have been seen before. A relationship seems to exist between pack size and the size of the prey being hunted. Large pack, for example, may be necessary for wolves preying on moose, musk oxen, and caribou; while smaller packs would be more ideal for hunting deer and elk. Wolves generally establish territories ranging from forty to more than four hundred square miles in some cases. They define their ranges with scent markings and such vocalizations as growls, barks, and the legendary howl. They will defend all or much of this area against intruders.

A wolf pack is like a family unit, consisting of an adult pair and their mostly grown offspring. Members of the pack form strong social bonds that promote internal cohesion. Order is maintained by a dominance hierarchy. The pack leader, usually a male, is known as the alpha male, and tends to initiate pack activity and lead the group on hunts. During a hunt, the alpha male will guide its movements and assume control at critical moments.

Inside Wolves In The Wild

Wolves In The Wild Home Page
About The Wolf.....
Hunting and Selection Of Prey
The Wolf As An Endangered Species
Wild Wolves Photo Gallery
Links To Other Wolf Pages