As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have the amazing privilege of working with 37 gray wolves and 1 wolfdog every week. (My best buddy Arrow pictured below.)
Seeing as a lot of people enjoy writing stories with wolves in them, or just love wolves in general, I thought I’d make a nice, big, educational post about these amazing creatures. There’s a lot of myths and misconceptions out there, so let’s get some things straightened out.
Myth: Wolves are mean and vicious animals.
Truth: Wolves are gentle animals, that are instinctively terrified of humans.
Seeing a wolf in the wild is an extremely rare sight. This is because they’ve learned to fear humans since we’ve hunted and killed them for so long. They can smell us from up to five miles away and take off running. They are flighters, not fighters. If you somehow end up in a situation where you are face to face with a wolf, they will do anything they can to scare you off (growling, snarling, etc.) so that they can run away.
Myth: Wolves are a menace and need to be hunted to protect our livestock and ourselves.
Truth: Wolves contribute so much to the environment and rarely bother people or livestock.
As I mentioned above, wolves are naturally scared of humans and will do whatever they can to avoid us. They are not a danger to people. In fact, there are no verified documented cases of healthy wolves attacking people. Most attacks are done by coyotes, coywolves, or wolfdogs.
Wolves prefer leaner meats, that means elk and deer. They don’t like beef. The only times they ever hunt cows are when the alpha has been killed (usually by a trophy hunter), and the pack has not been properly taught how or what to hunt, so they go for the easier kills. Wolves do not hunt for fun. They only hunt for food when they need it. They take down their prey and drag it back to the den. They won’t take a bite and then leave it behind.
I’m sure all of you have heard or seen what wolves have done to Yellowstone. Wolves were absent until a few years ago when they were reintroduced. The environment in Yellowstone drastically improved. Wolves are keystone species. We need them. Please don’t hunt them.
Myth: Wolves have blue eyes.
Truth: Wolves eyes range from amber to dark orange to golden brown.
Pure wolves don’t have blue eyes. However, wolfdogs do (usually husky/wolf mixes). If you see a movie with a “wolf” that has blue eyes, it’s either a wolfdog or CGI.
Truth: First, that “female” is a male who is trying to submit.
Second, this is just a display of dominance between males. A female would be more likely to join the fight or put down the lower-ranking male than stand back and protect the other male.
Truth: While a great idea for society, this is simply not true for wolves.
Alphas lead the pack. Always. They are the smartest of the pack and the best hunters. There’re also two alphas per pack, one male and one female (and guess what, the females run the show). Betas, usually the biggest ones of the pack follow behind. Lastly, the omegas, the smaller, trouble-makers of the pack, trail in the back.
And the most important truths:
Myth: A wolf would be such an amazing pet!
Truth: Nope, nope, nope.
Like any exotic animal, wolves do not make good pets for a multitude of reasons. First, they are pack animals, meaning they need to be in a pack with other wolves to be happy. Second, you cannot train a wolf. Many have tried, none have been successful. (Note that conditioning, such as creating a Pavlov response is different than training). Third, they will mark their territory EVERYWHERE both outside and inside your house. Wolves mark with pee and poop, so have fun cleaning that up.
Myth: A wolfdog would be such an amazing pet!
Truth: Again, nope, nope, nope.
A lot of people think it would be great to a have pet that was half dog half wolf, and I mean a lot. 200,000 wolfdogs are born every year. 90% of them are put down. Shelters cannot take in wolfdogs. If a wolfdog is surrendered to a shelter it will be put down within 3 days unless a wolfdog sanctuary can come get it. Wolfdog breeders are just as bad as puppy mills. Do not support them.
Technically, wolves and domestic dogs are the same species. Domestic dogs are considered to be a subspecies of the gray wolf. However, they are drastically different both mentally and physically (I’ll probably make a post soon about the differences between wolves and dogs).
Though not impossible, it is very challenging to train a wolfdog. You’re essentially giving an animal multiple personality disorder. You never know if you’re going to get more wolf or more dog. They tend to be more aggressive and dangerous than either animal. Not to mention, they have a myriad of health problems and a shortened lifespan (like any animal hybrid).
Please, if you want a pet, just stick with domestic dogs.
And that’s it for this first wolf information post! I plan on making a few more (random wolf facts, difference between wolves and domestic dogs, subspecies of gray wolves, etc.) I hope you all found this post informative and useful!