On Their Journey Back by Juanita Amero
In a short 2 months, the entire family will leave the birthing den to reunite with the pack. The pack will all participate in the rearing of the young of the chosen alpha pair. The new home is called the rendezvous site and is in a less sheltered area. The pups remain with this loyal family group until they are at least two years old, at which time they reach sexual maturity and leave as lone wolves to find a mate of their own. These lone wolves will be the starting points of other packs. They will search out other lone wolves and begin a legacy of their own making.
Wolves may form packs for numerous reasons, such as hunting, defending territory and rearing young. Each member of the pack has its own rank in that group. There is a pecking order, so to speak, that will remain intact to keep harmony within the family group. The high-ranking members, called dominant wolves, dominate the low ranking members of the pack, known as subordinate wolves. Everyday the wolves of the pack show their rank to each other by using body language when they meet. The dominant wolf stands erect, holds its tail aloft, and points its ears up and forward. Sometimes it may even show its teeth and growl. The subordinate wolf crouches, holds its tail between its legs, and turns down its ears. Sometimes it may also whine.
Now down to the hunting. Wolves hunt to feed themselves and their family, much like some of us do. Their methods of hunting are remarkable. At the beginning of the hunt, the members of the pack gather together greeting each other with howls. These howls will warn off other wolves in the area to stay out of the packs territory. The pack will then roam through their territory until they find prey. After finding and choosing a particular animal, they move in on it from the opposite direction the wind is blowing. This prevents the prey from smelling the wolves coming, becoming alert, then running away. The wolves will quietly close in on the prey, sometimes in single file. Soon they will break into a run and the chase begins.
If the wolves are able to catch their prey, they attack the rump or sides of the animal. Nipping and biting they try to wound and weaken the animal. Most of the bigger animals wolves hunt have antlers. When attacking, the wolves will bite at areas away from the head of the prey, avoiding the sharp antlers. After the animal has been weakened, the wolves will take the animal down by grabbing it by the throat or snout. Wolf hunts can last only a few minutes or as long as a few hours or more.
Survival of the fittest is truly the law where the wolf lives and they often take the weakest of the herd or sick prey. Normally wolves will only hunt when there is need and always consume what they eat. Many of the outlaw wolves did just the opposite and it appears they took their prey for the sheer thrill of the hunt, chase and kill. As there were outlaw wolves in the past, there again will be renegade individuals I believe. Wolves have recently been protected so that they may re-establish themselves after the near extermination of their species in the past. Time will tell and it is possible the next outlaw article just might not be a legend… but front-page news!