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Wolves have long been a lightning rod for controversy. They evoke passionate feelings in
many of us. Some people love them, a few fear them, others prefer that they be shot. On the
Arctic Refuge, however, these differences are seldom voiced. Why? The wolf is wild, beautiful,
and inspiring. So is the Refuge. The two belong together. People know it and expect it.
Cousin to the dog, the gray wolf is a highly social animal, preferring to live in packs. The
pack, dominated by a male/female pair, may include their pups of the year, wolves born the
previous year, and other adults.
Gray wolves may be shades of gray, brown,
black, or white. Wolves of all these colors roam
the Refuge. Some five packs totalling 25 to 30 animals live on the Refuge's north slope east of
the Canning River. The wolves are found primarily in the mountains and foothills along major
The makeup of wolf packs on the Refuge's north slope varies. In summer, many wolves hunt
alone or in pairs. Some are "drifters." Others may switch packs or move to new areas, perhaps
following the caribou migration. In winter the packs stay together more to hunt.
Gray wolves mate in late February and March. The pairs then move to maternity dens near
rivers in the foothills and mountains. About four to seven pups are born in late May or early
June. The pups are weaned during the summer, and the dens are abandoned in July or August.
By early winter, the pups can travel and hunt with the adult wolves.
Although to date, no dens have been found on the Refuge coastal plain, wolves make
frequent trips there from May to July when the Porcupine caribou herd is present. After the
caribou leave the coastal plain, the wolves stay in the mountains and foothills hunting caribou,
along with Dall sheep and moose. Wolves, however, are opportunistic feeders. They will catch
small rodents, birds, and ground squirrels if they can.
Natural relationships between predator and prey still prevail on the Arctic Refuge. Here the
wolf's connection to the caribou and the land continues as it has for centuries. Untamed and free,
the wolf is a symbol for the Refuge - a truly remarkable place.
Note: This is the MapCruzin.com archive of the FWS Arctic National Wildlife Refuge website. In December, 2001 FWS took this website offline, making it unavailable to the public. It includes 90 plus pages of information and many maps. As of 2006 the important information contained in this, the original "unsanitized" version of the FWS website, has yet to return to the internet, so we will continue to maintain it here as a permanent archive to help inform activists and concerned citizens. If you find any broken links, please report them to me at [email protected] and I will attempt to make the repairs. January, 2008 update - A small part of the original information that was present in 2001 has made it back into the current ANWR website. There is also an archive that contains a small amount of the original information, but it is not readily available from the main website.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2001. Potential impacts of proposed oil and gas
development on the Arctic Refuge’s
coastal plain: Historical overview and
issues of concern. Web page of the Arctic National
17 January 2001. http://arctic.fws.gov/issues1.html
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