Everyone learns about the food chain at some point in their lives. The rosebush converts sunlight into energy, the grasshopper eats the rosebush, the songbird eats the grasshopper, and the fox eats the songbird. It seems pretty simple. But what is often ignored is the fact that the world is not split up into a series of food chains, where everybody only eats one thing and there is always plenty. Ecosystems are more like nets, where all of its pieces must depend on one another in order to function. Another common mistake that humans make is to remove themselves from the ecosystem. People are part of the process. In order to achieve a more successful unity, humans must learn to look at themselves as part of the system and strive to understand each of its components. One of the more seriously misunderstood parts is that of the predator. There is an enormous fear surrounding predators, one that can only be combated with education. I have decided that in order to better appreciate the world around me, that I shall educate myself on nature’s predators. This post is the first in a series that will hopefully serve as an alternate viewpoint for anyone and everyone. To begin, here are some facts about the wolves of North America:
The Grey Wolf
Grey wolves are the most commonly thought of wolf, despite their low numbers. They are listed as endangered, with a current population of approximately 7,000-11,200 in Alaska, 3,700 in the Great Lakes area, and 1,675 in the Northern Rockies.
In appearance, they are usually about 26-32 inches tall, about 4.5-6.5 feet lengthwise, and are usually grey, black, or white.
The Red Wolf
The Red Wolf is without a doubt one of the most stunning wolves known to man. They generally have a grey-black undercoat, with the more copper topcoat which gives them their name. A little smaller than its family member the Grey Wolf, the Red Wolf is on average about 26 inches tall and 4.5-595 feet long. Though it is beautiful, the Red Wolf is also listed as critically endangered. There are around 207 captive Red Wolves ensuring that the species does not go entirely extinct. . At just a little more than 50 wolves, it is extremely rare in the wilderness.
The Eastern Wolf
The Eastern Wolf is one of the most fascinating species of wolf. Commonly mistaken as a sub-species of the Grey Wolf, the Eastern Wolf is similar in appearance, but is still its own creature. They are most often closest to the Red Wolf in dimensions of size, but wear the same grey, black or brown coat as its Western brother. The Eastern wolf, however, is the closest to disappearing due to human interference and interspecies breeding. It is undetermined what their numbers may be.
The CoyWolf is not officially recognized as a species, but is possibly the next evolutionary step for the Eastern Wolf. Due to human population growth, Eastern Wolves and Coyotes are finding themselves brought closer together than ever before. The CoyWolf is the result of this interspecies breeding. Someday, Eastern Wolves as we currently know them may disappear entirely, replaced with the more human savvy CoyWolf.
It is extremely frequent that humans underestimate the importance of the wolf. Their lifestyle is critical in maintaining functional ecosystems. They eat mostly ungulates, such as deer and elk, preventing them from consuming too much vegetation in one area. They also help to support plant growth by leaving the carcasses of their prey to decompose and release important nutrients back into the soil. In fact, other animals such as Grizzly Bears regularly scavenge the remains that the wolves do not eat.
Every day, many wolves are killed due to human ignorance and fear-mongering. Wolves have a terrible reputation as baby eaters and calf killers. While some wolves do occasionally eat livestock, attacks on humans are extremely rare. It is always a good thing to be cautious of wild animals, but through understanding we can banish the fearful stereotypes around these beautiful animals and help to conserve our world as it was meant to be.
I hope you liked my post, feel free to comment with any thoughts or opinions, and be sure to follow me on Instagram and like the Facebook page Escape Into Adventure. Thanks for reading, and check back for future posts!
Author’s note: The picture that goes with this is of two wolfdogs that I took at a presentation. I know it is terrible, but in my defense the wolves refused to sit still.