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Rise of the Black Wolf Facts

A wolf stands on boulders in Yellowstone National Park. Wolves follow hierarchical social structures. Black Wolf was not Alpha male until later in his life.

A wolf stands on boulders in Yellowstone National Park. Wolves follow hierarchical social structures. Black Wolf was not Alpha male until later in his life.

  • Most people are familiar with the concept of an Alpha male, as it pertains to wolf packs, but larger packs will often also have an “omega” wolf. This wolf is at the bottom of the pecking order and is also often the target of the alpha’s and pack’s “social aggression,” even to the point of being exiled.

  • Gray wolves differ slightly in size, color, and skull size across different regions, with such slight differences that scientists don’t always agree on how many races there are. Twenty-four subspecies were originally defined in North America, but today many believe there may be as few as five different wolf subspecies in North America.

  • Wolves use urination and defecation as a form of scent marking, allowing them to claim and mark their territory. When breeding season nears, alpha pairs will often urinate in the same spot to alert other wolves that a pair has already bonded, and also perhaps as a signal to each other they are ready to mate.

  • Howling is used by wolves for several functions: reassembling the pack after a long chase, as a social bonding method, and to protect its territory against other packs. Wolves tend to howl more when they are protecting something, like their pups or food, to warn any other packs in the area to beware.

  • The feet of a wolf will change shape depending on the environment and situation to help the wolf stabilize and maneuver. When walking and running, the wolf keeps its toes in together so the foot is thick and blocky to reduce friction. The toes can spread, however, to increase surface area and grasp rocks and logs when walking on uneven surfaces.

  • During a hunt, wolves will try to force their quarry into a running chase, and will attempt to grab it by the rump or flanks. As they slow the prey down, an alpha wolf will bite the prey by the nose or snout, and as the prey tries to dislodge the alpha, the rest of the pack is free to take down and kill the quarry.

  • Yellowstone National Park was named after the Yellowstone River that flows through it. The river got its name from the Minnetaree tribe, who told French-Canadian trappers in Montana that the river was called “Mi tse a-da-zi,” meaning “Rock Yellow River.”

  • At 671 miles long, flowing north into the park, the Yellowstone River, whose headwaters are on Younts Peak and joins with the Missouri River at the Montana-North Dakota border, is the longest flowing river in the US unobstructed by a major dam.

  • Yellowstone National Park contains almost two-thirds of all the geysers on planet earth, over 300, with around ten thousand thermal features (geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and mudpots) total.

  • Besides male grizzly bears being larger than their female counterparts, one way to distinguish the sex of a grizzly is the way in which they urinate. The urine stream of a male grizzly shoots forward toward the front paws, whereas a female’s urine shoots backward behind the bear.

  • To survive the winter, grizzlies fatten up in the fall and bury themselves in dens to hibernate through the coldest months. While hibernating, the bears avoid dehydration by breaking down their own body fats and carbohydrates into water, and use their own muscle protein to form urea and glucose to reduce the need for food.

  • The hair on a bison bull can be used as an indicator of health and status for female bison during the mating season. The hair around the head, neck and shoulder of a bull grows as the bison ages, but also especially when it is in good health. Thus, a female can tell by the length of hair on a bull whether or not he will be good at foraging and warding off predators.

  • Bison tend to gravitate to differing terrain for forage in two separate herds, one for the bulls and another for the calves and cows. The bulls are willing to risk their security by venturing out in small groups for better foraging so they can grow large, while the cows and calves generally stick together in areas of firm unobstructed ground to maximize their safety.

  • Coyotes have been found to live in almost all geographic areas throughout North and Central America, including g a wide range of climates and habitats. One reason the coyotes are able to have such a wide range is their omnivorous lifestyle. Coyotes will eat whatever is in abundance, anything from berries to small mammals, allowing them to survive in many different conditions.

  • The size of a coyote litter is dependent on the environmental conditions. Female coyotes have a physiological trait which produces litters based on current coyote population in the area, food availability, and disease. When conditions are favorable, the size of the litter will increase.