It’s time for wolf pups!
Minneapolis – The spring equinox, or first day of spring, is a busy time for wolves in the northern hemisphere. The International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, educates about these changes in the life of the wolf as the weather moves from snow and cold to warm and sunny.
The pending arrival of pups brings significant changes to wolf pack behavior:
- The breeding female usually digs the den, although other members of the pack sometime participate.
- In the western Great Lakes area wolves breed in mid-February to early March, with four to six pups born in late April or early May.
- Adult members of the pack provide food for the pups and the female. Mid-May to June coincides with the birth of whitetail deer. Fawns provide the primary prey for wolves, although wolves might spend many hours trying to catch each one.
- The pups’ blue eyes open at about 12 to 14 days. The young explore the den, eventually stumbling to look at the outside world when about three weeks old.
- At 20 to 24 days, they emerge from then den, and a week or two later travel farther from it. Soon they are playing, sleeping and nursing around the opening of the den.
- Yearling wolves often stay near the den entrance like sentinels, ready to ward off intruders.
- At about five to 10 weeks, wolf pups advance from toddlers to active individuals, playing, resting and waiting for the adults to bring food. In the fall, they begin traveling with the pack.
“A wolf pup’s first year can be very difficult. While the population about doubles when pups are born, about 70 percent will die in their first year due to starvation, drowning, accidents, disease, predators and human causes,” said Dr. L. David Mech, founder and vice chair of the Center.
ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL WOLF CENTER – Learn about the International Wolf Center at wolf.org. The Center, founded in 1985, is known worldwide as the nation’s premier source for wolf education. The mission of the Center is to advance the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. The Center educates through its Web site, wolf.org, its ambassador wolves, museum exhibits, on-site adventure and outreach programs and International Wolf magazine. The educational facility is located at 1396 Highway 169, Ely, Minnesota, 55731. (Phone: 218-365-4695), and the Center’s Administrative and Outreach offices are at 3410 Winnetka Ave North, Minneapolis, MN 55427.