The gray wolf is an integral part of Minnesota, a symbol of our state’s pride in wild lands. It is also the state’s most controversial animal: often loved, hated, feared and admired.
What They Eat
Wolves eat deer, moose, beavers, and small mammals such as the snowshoe hare.
Where They Live
Now limited to northern forests and tundra from North America through Asia and Europe. They usually avoid people, though this is changing as expanding human populations force more interactions.
What They Do
Social animals, wolves live and hunt in packs of 2-15. Minnesota packs often roam a territory of 50 or more square miles.
How They’re Doing
Once almost gone from the 48 states, northern Minnesota boasted one of the few remaining populations. After decades of aggressive protection, wolves are again doing well in Minnesota.
- Wolf pups weigh only one pound when born. They start out blind and deaf, completely dependent on their mother for food and protection.
- Gray wolves eat an average of 3-7 pounds of meat daily, but can gorge themselves on up to 20 pounds in one sitting. Wolves are designed for a lifestyle of feast or famine, and can go weeks without food.
- Although considered great hunters, Minnesota’s wolves only kill about one out of every five deer they stalk. Adult wolves eat the equivalent of 15-20 full-grown deer each year.
- Wolves are known for strong frames and muscles. Their jaws, for instance, can crush bones at a pressure of 1,500 pounds per square inch. (A human jaw: 300).
- All domestic dogs are direct descendents of gray wolves.
- Gray wolves have a sense of smell 80 times stronger than humans. This helps them track, hunt, communicate, and avoid danger.
- After smell, hearing is wolves’ strongest sense. Keen ears help them detect both threats and food. They also help wolves communicate over long distances, which is critical for a far-flung pack.
- Wolves are built for travel. It’s not uncommon for them to travel more than 30 miles in a day.
- Gray wolves do well in northern winters by growing thick, warm coats. They manage warm weather by shedding their dense undercoats.
- A wolf’s big feet and flexible toes are great on difficult surfaces, particularly snow.
- Wolves have been clocked at 35 mph for short distances.