By Martine Colette
Head thrown back, a wolf points its nose to the sky and begins to howl.The call soars to a high note and then slides down in smooth, rippling tones. Though most howling is done as night falls and is often used to assemble the pack for a night’s hunting, wolves may howl at any time of the day or night to keep in touch. A “lonesome howl” may mean a wolf has become separated from the pack, but sometimes they just howl for pleasure.One of the most thrilling, spine-tingling sounds in the world, wolves can be induced to howl quite easily.
Wolf is the common name for, and the largest of the species that, with coyotes, jackals, foxes and domestic dogs, make up the genus, Canis. The wolf is a social animal and though most packs are made up of four to seven individuals, large packs may include as many as fifty wolves. Two leaders-the alpha male and female-keep the pack together and are the only members of the pack to mate. The adult male gray wolf, Canis Lupus,stands twenty-six to thirty-eight inches high at the shoulder, has ahead-and-body length of forty to fifty-eight inches. The average weight ofthe North American wolf is in the sixty to one hundred pound range, but mayweigh as much as 175 pounds. Females are fifteen to twenty percent smaller than the males. Wolves range from all shades of gray, tan and brown topure white or solid black. Possessing the third strongest jaws of all land mammals, the wolf may have a crushing pressure of l,500 pounds per square inch. Though driven nearly to extinction in the lower 48 states, efforts are now underway with reintroduction programs to help re-establish the wolf population.
Ten wolves reside at the Wildlife Waystation. Five of these beautiful creatures are among our most popular education animals and can frequently be seen on our Tour Sunday Animal Presentations