Friday, November 23, 2018

A WIld Wolfenoot to You!

Well, tonight is Wolfenoot, the holiday invented by a 7-year-old boy, during which the Spirit of the Wolf lopes across the land hiding presents for everyone -- especially people who have been kind to dogs.  Naturally I have to post something wolf-related:

In 1970 biologist L. David Mech published The Wolf, the definitive study of the canid carnivores . . . and for decades thereafter he tried to buy up all copies, because the conclusions he arrived at concerning alphas and pack relationships were flawed, because he was studying wolves living in limited environments defined by Man.

In 2003, however, Mech and Luigi Boitani of the University of Rome edited Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation, the real definitive study.

A chapter of Wolves is called "Wolf Interactions with Non-Prey."  In other words, what happens when other predators and large animals collide with wolves.  I call it the "Wolves Vs." chapter.  For instance, cougars and wolves will occasionally attack and even kill each other, but normally cougars climb to higher altitudes to hunt (thus "mountain" lions).

Grizzly bears, as you might guess, can cause wolves a lot of trouble.  A naturalist observed a young bear in 1944 who apparently wanted to be a wolf-fighter when he grew up.  A mother grizzly and her three yearlings were trying for a pack's meat-caches.  "The darkest yearling seemed to enjoy the fight, for he would dash at the wolves with great vigor, and was sometimes off by himself, waging a lone battle."

Tigers run into wolves in Asia and Siberia.  They do not normally interact.  A naturalist named L. I. Makovkin knew of only two cases in which a tiger had killed a wolf.  "In neither case did the tiger consume the wolf."

"You do not respond to reason -- so now you will know fear" -- Shere Khan

I was shocked by the hyena section.  There are only a few spots on earth, in Eurasia, where hyenas ever run into wolves, and usually -- the hyenas win.

Maybe the wolves should practice on something smaller.  Like Arctic Foxes.  "In one instance, wolves spent considerable time and effort trying to fend off an Arctic Fox at a fresh muskox kill."  Wait -- they couldn't protect their meat from ONE Arctic Fox?

How about a bird?  Can a wolf pack beat a bird?

"The birds would dive at a wolf's head or tail, and the wolf would duck and then leap at them.  Sometimes the ravens chased the wolves, flying just above their heads, and once, a raven waddled to a resting wolf, pecked its tail, and jumped aside as the wolf snapped at it . . . the bird allowed it within a foot before arising.  Then it landed a few feet beyond the wolf and repeated the prank." [p. 270]

Nice of it to let the wolf think it had a chance . . . All in all, a disappointing showing from Team Wolf!

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