Wolves In Native American FolkloreWolves are admired for their strength and powers of endurance and they hold a special place in ones heart. The Native Americans believed the earth and everything in it is a huge, living web, sharing one common spirit. The animals are not lesser beings, but part of the "four-footed" tribes, which provided special help to their human relatives. And every stone, plant, and animal is a teacher whose traits could provide a model for human behavior.
Wolves held a special place in almost all Native American tribes. They were admired for their strength and powers of endurance, and taught the tribes many skills. They taught the tribes about sharing, cooperating while hunting and looking after the young, caring and having pride in their tribes. They showed the Indians how to move in the forests -- carefully and quietly. The hunters looked for signs of them, for when game was scarce, the wolves would be gone. And after killing the prey, a good hunter always left a piece of meat behind. Some tribes thought that we were the creatures most patterned after the wolf, and not the other way around. Contrasting with European folklore, where wolves are usually depicted as evil, Native American folklore has wise wolves that teach lessons to their human counterparts.
There is a Lakota story about a woman hurt and left behind that became a part of a wolf pack. She stayed with them for many years, but she finally realized that she had to return to her people. She brought with her many skills of the wolf, such as predicting weather far in advance and alerting the village when there were animals or other humans nearby.
Wolf Indian Folklore
The wolf, more often than not, was called a female. It held great magic, possessing the power of night, the healing powers of the spirits, and the wisdom to instill courage. There is an Omaha story in which a wolf guides a wounded warrior back to his camp, alerting him whenever there are enemy warriors nearby and showing him the easiest path. In the Cherokee tribe, there was a clan called the wolf people. They would never kill a wolf, believing the spirit of the slain wolf would revenge its death. The Cherokee also believed that if a hunter showed respect and prayed before and after killing an animal, the deer, the wolf, the fox, and the oppossum would guard his feet against frostbite. To the Hudson Bay Eskimos, the wolf was a poor woman who couldn't find enough for her children to eat. The family grew thin and weak and were changed into wolves. The pain of the mother can still be heard when she calls out howling. The Pueblo Indians, on the other hand, believe that the wolf was a gift from their mother creator Ut'set. The wolf, the bear, the badger, and the shrew were sent to use their magic and harden the earth. When they did, the ground was no longer too wet for the people to walk on. And for the Tewa Indians, the wolves held the powers of the east, and were one of the zenith power-medicine animals.
The Indians watched the Europeans come and kill the wolves. They thought it was akin to the story of Cain and Abel, for wolves are men's brothers. The Blackfoot and Lakota believe that a gun used to shoot a wolf will never shoot straight again.
By: Running Deer
Wolves are admired for their strength and powers of endurance and they hold a special place in ones heart. Wolves In Native American Folklore, Wolf In Native American Folklore, Wolves are admired, Wolf Indian Folklore.
The Native Indians learned much from the wolves. From their hunting skills to their loyalty, these lessons aided the Native Americans to survive on the land, and live in harmony with Mother Earth and each other. From these lessons many legends and stories were told about wolves. There are many books to find out about the habits and survival tactics of the Wolf.
A spirit guide, or totem animal, the Wolf.
The Spirit of the Wolf resides in my heart Mostly peacefully, yet ever wild Running in time to the blowing wind Dancing in the clouds that drift in the heavens.
The Spirit of the Wolf resides in my soul Longing to hear the song of the Great One Striving to be that which I am in my natural state Succeeding only because of the love that the Universe grants me. "Spirit of the Wolf" by Kari ©1997;
WolfThe Wolf....a citizen of the Wild....a spirit of Mother Nature....a proud creature of the Great Creatrix....a fascination for some....an enigma for many. If we but study about these noble animals, knowledge would replace fear and lies, and admiration would take the place of doubts. There are many lessons to be learned from the Wolf, especially those having to do with the natural order of Mother Earth.
What is a wolf? A wolf is a large predator that depends for its survival on large prey, such as deer, elk, caribou, and in some parts of its range, moose and bison that tip the scales at more than a thousand pounds. It has powerful jaws capable of exerting about 1500 pounds per square inch, or about twice that of the domestic dog. It is accustomed to a feast and famine existence, often going many days without eating then gorging as much as 20 pounds in a single sitting. It's role in nature is to remove the sick and the weak, and in this way create a win-win relationship with its prey. The end result is a system which has succeeded for hundreds of thousands of years.
The wolf is a highly social animal, generally living within the same pack for most, if not all, of its life. Survival depends very much upon the pack. The members of the pack cooperate in hunting, killing large prey, feeding and caring for the young, defending their territory against other packs, and so forth. The pack functions mostly as a strong autocratic system, with each individual having fought for its placement or rank within the group. Generally only the top male and female are permitted to breed, while any attempts to do so by others are punished. When to hunt, where to hunt, and many other activities are also commonly determined by the pack leaders.
Most packs occupy a range of about 80 to 100 square miles, and move about it on a regular basis. The pack members are very athletic, capable of incredible endurance, such as pursuing prey over long distances or ploughing through chest high snow for long periods. Most of their activity occurs at night. Though quite capable of ripping apart even the strongest of men, not a single documented case exists of a wolf having killed or even severely maimed anyone in the wild. This is because the wolf in the wild, even when in the company of a large pack, is extremely fearful of people. It is rare that it even knowingly comes near them.
Lone WolfA lone wolf is not a typical sight, as these magnificent creatures prefer the company of their own. They live with and are extemely loyal to their packmates. These beautiful creatures have a strong sense of community, and respect the social order of their pack very highly. We would do well to look to the wolf for understanding, dispelling the many negative myths about wolves, and learning how to exist in harmony with all habitants of Earth.
By Wild Wolf Woman's Wolf Information
Relationship Between People And Wolves
The relationship between people and wolves has changed dramatically over the course of history. Many thousands of years ago, early man admired the wolf for its coordinated and graceful hunting techniques. No one can say how long it's been since a shaggy, friendly cross between a wolf and a wild dog became "man's best friend." The dog, at least, has kept its popularity since that ancient time. Somewhere along the way, the wolf lost our admiration. We became civilized -- the wolf did not. We kept herds of sheep and cattle, which the wolves found astonishingly simple to hunt. We lost much of our ability to survive as nomadic hunters -- the wolves were still masters of the uncertain wilderness outside the city walls. Did we resent the wolf's choice of prey? Or did we resent being reminded of the wilderness we had lost?
Today, as we begin to understand how precious our environment is, the magnificent gray wolf remains a symbol of the wilderness habitats we strive to conserve. There is a growing wave of public support that calls for the careful study, proper management, and selective reintroduction of the wolf. Most exciting of all, the popularity of the gray wolf is more than a joyful celebration of the beast -- it's an unspoken pledge, made by millions of us, that says we will no longer take our precious natural heritage for granted, but will care for it, protect it, and conserve it for coming generations.
Wolves are extremely sociable creatures. Many live in a close-knit, loving family group, or pack. In each pack there is a leader called the alpha wolf. (Frequently the alpha is a male, but wolves have as many personality differences as people, and some packs have a female alpha.) All the pack members defer to the alpha, who is assisted by his (or her) mate. The second in command is called the beta wolf. There can be a third and a fourth, and a fifth -- it depends on the size of the pack. The important thing is that every single wolf knows where it is on the chain of command. All females are subservient to the alpha female (as all males are subservient to the alpha male). There isn't a "beta pair" the way there is an "alpha pair" because it's rare for any wolves besides the alphas to mate. The alpha will even stop any other wolves from breeding! That may seem unfair to the other pack members, but it makes sense. The alphas are the leaders because they are the fastest, strongest, and cleverest in the pack. If the two most powerful animals mate, the pups will inherit these important genetic traits. That's good news for the pack.
But not every wolf can stand to be an "underdog." Occasionally one will choose to wander away from its pack and become a loner. A single wolf can wander and hunt on its own for two or three years -- sometimes even longer. Because wolves are so sociable, the chances are good that eventually the loner will band together with other solo wolves or will become a member of another pack.
Few things are more effective in hunting than working cooperatively. There are many species that hunt in groups -- lionesses work together on the African veldt to bring down large prey, and orcas are so skilled at hunting in groups that we tend to view them as "killer" whales. One of the most fascinating and complex examples of cooperative hunting is found in the wolf pack.
When they hunt, wolves display much more than simple instinct. Their techniques are so skillful that the level of intelligence is surprising. Their pack society is largely built around the most efficient hunting team, where every member knows its place and obeys the leader instantly and without question. Obedience is necessary because the alpha does issue orders. He (or she) assigns teams of wolves to run down a prey animal -- then, the alpha sends in relief runners so the chase team can catch its breath. A well-conducted hunt can ensure that all the wolves will be fresh and ready for the kill by the time the prey is exhausted and without resource.
The remarkable analysis of a prey herd is another example of a wolf's exceptional intelligence. Researchers initially suspected that wolves weren't very efficient hunters, as they often started to chase a prey hard eight or nine times before they ever made a kill. Actually, the reverse is true -- those eight or nine "false alarms" are made so the wolf pack can observe the prey herd in motion. The wolf pack takes in the sights, smells, and sounds of the fleeing beasts, analyzes the information, and sums up the chances for a successful hunt in seconds. If an animal appears weak, ill, very young, or very old, the pack continues the chase -- almost always successfully. But if the prey herd is strong, with no "weak links," the wolves break off the hunt immediately rather than waste precious energy.
Although they are called gray wolves, these creatures are not always gray. coat colors can range from snowy white to inky black. If there were a "classic" gray wolf, it would probably have a grizzled gray back and head, fading to a buff or tan belly and legs. The muzzle is light underneath, and a dark stripe comes down from the forehead along the nose.
Brothers and sisters from the very same litter may be very different in color. wolves have a slight advantage during night hunts, when their darkness blends into shadows and they can be even more stealthful than their lighter packmates. Far to the north in the Arctic Circle, pure white wolves are common. In a land where the sun does not set for a month at a time, a dark coat would be a definite disadvantage. Any dark-furred wolves that lived in the area would not be very successful hunters, and so would probably not become the leader (or alpha) of a pack. Since only the alpha pair mates, the genes that cause a darker coat would eventually be bred out of the entire population. Today, almost all wolves in the Arctic Circle are white. Every region where wolves are found has a different name for the wolf. In various parts of the country, they are called timber wolves, arctic wolves, northern, scrub, buffalo, and eastern wolves. A subspecies in the Southwest is called the Mexican wolf. Regardless of their local names -- and regardless of their color -- they are all gray wolves. The only exception in North America is an entirely different species, the red wolf. True to form, red wolves aren't always red.
HOWL! "The wolf's howl has been called the most beautiful sound in the animal world -- resonant and lingering, a seductive call, and the epitome of wildness. Wolves howl at any time during the day or night. Many situations and emotions precipitate this expression. Wolves howl to assemble the pack, to alert members of a threat near the den, and to locate each other in a storm or in unfamiliar territory. The pack howls when it is reunited after a hunt, possibly an expression of pleasure or excitement. Some Native American tribes believe that wolves howl after eating to summon ravens, fox, mice, coyotes, and other animals to pick the bones. During the winter, the time of courtship and mating, howling increases as the wolf serenades its mate with a jubilant invitation. On a calm night over open terrain, a howl can be heard up to 10 miles away. Wolves also howl to publicize their presence to a neighboring pack, declaring territorial boundaries. It seems they howl just because they like to. Whatever the reason, this primeval cry has gripped the human imagination, striking terror in days past and fascination today." -- Nancy Reid and Sheila Liermann Famous Friends of the Wolf Cookbook
Most humans are entirely oriented to the world through vision. For us, sight is everything, and the senses of smell and sound are types of back-up systems. We aren't alone in the animal kingdom -- birds of prey, for example are visually oriented as well. An eagle can see the almost imperceptible movements of a rabbit hundreds of feet below, or a fish swimming in a mountain lake. But for many creatures, sight is a secondary sense. For wolves, it's actually number three.
Wolves live in a world of sound and smell. Vision merely confirms what they already know. During a chase, vision is important so the wolf can follow a prey animal through quick changes of direction. but when the prey is farther away, vision is less useful than the primary senses of hearing and smell. biologists have reason to believe that wolves can't see clearly past about 75 feet -- beyond that point, detail is lost and only movement will draw any attention. At that distance, if a prey animal simply stands still, it becomes invisible to the wolf.
This won't do the prey animal any good, though, unless it is also downwind of the wolf -- remember the wolf's best senses are hearing and smell. The slightest breeze can carry a scent that would alert the wolf to the "invisible" prey, and any sound at all would be captured by the alert ears. Wolves can hear each other howling from miles away when humans can only hear silence, and wolves use their sense of smell (among other things) to decide if any member of a herd of prey animals is injured or sick. They define their territories, recognize their prey, and identify pack members by smell.
Wolf's Pecking Order
The transition from newborn to adult is as hard for wolves as it is for people. A juvenile wolf is as tall as its parents, but the body hasn't filled out yet, making the long legs look awkward and gangly. Every adult in the pack treats the juvenile like an underling -- the most junior member of a very efficient team. The only satisfaction a juvenile gets is lording it over the next litter of pups.
Each juvenile goes through a sort of "apprenticeship" as part of the hunting team. The alpha assigns the young wolf to the least important (and least dangerous) posts on a hunt, where the juvenile can watch its elders and learn from their successes and failures. It takes time to move up in the ranks.
Not every juvenile learns to hunt right away. Each wolf pack assigns a "babysitter" to the newest litter of pups. Naturally, a teenager gets the job. When the rest of the pack takes off on a hunt, the babysitter is left in charge. It isn't an easy job, as wolf pups are terribly curious about everything and do their best to get into a great deal of mischief. Typically, the juvenile is a stern caretaker -- after all, this is his or her only chance to be the top dog. But, being just one year away from the playful days of puppyhood, it isn't unusual for the "stern" babysitter to eventually join in a playful frolic with younger brothers and sisters.
Wolf The Pups
A wolf pup leads a wonderful life. The pups are the focus of every pack. Their mothers and fathers are devoted parents, and every other member of the pack considers itself an aunt or uncle, regardless of relations. the pack treats the pups with indulgent affection. All they have to do is play, sleep, and eat.
Of course, there's more to it than that. Even though each game a pup plays just seems like fun -- in reality, every pounce on a brother or sister, every leaf chased down a hill, every curious sniff of the wind is training for the rigorous life ahead (when quickness, intelligence, and keen senses will make the difference between a failed hunt and a full stomach). A pup's idea of a good meal isn't the same as ours. Because pups can't hunt, they rely on their elders to bring food back to the den. The pups beg for their dinner by nipping at the muzzles of their aunts and uncles, and the loving adults regurgitate the meat. Not very appetizing to us, but everything a wolf pup could hope for.
The pups leave the den for the first time at about three weeks of age. (They are greeted by joyful pack members, eager to meet the newest members.) Almost from the beginning, a litter will establish a pecking order similar to that of the adults. One pup becomes the leader (sort of an alpha-pup) that dominates the others. The ability to dominate tends to hold true; an alpha-pup is much more likely to lead a pack one day than the pups that willingly submit to their more forceful brothers or sisters.
Maned wolves live in the middle parts of South America. Because summers are hot and steamy, the maned wolf usually sleeps during the day in the coolest place it can find -- in a thicket, on a rocky ledge, or in deep shade. It does most of its hunting at night.
Although maned wolves are loyal mates (they may choose to mate for life), they aren't exactly inseparable. Unless it's the mating season, maned wolf mates avoid each other. They share a home range of about 15 square miles and defend it from other wolves, but they rarely see each other. Instead, they leave each other scent messages. With their exceptional sense of smell, the wolf can get a great deal of information about its mate from these messages -- if he or she is healthy, has hunted well recently, or is ready to mate. A female maned wolf gives birth in the winter. These are the more gentle months in central South America, without the long droughts and hot days of summer. Their winters are our summers, so they give birth in July or August. But the season is more important than the month. A captive maned wolf living in the northern hemisphere will still give birth in the winter, even though in this case, winter is now in January and February.
Very little is known about maned wolves because they are extremely shy of humans. One thing is certain, however -- maned wolves are an endangered species. Like most, this endangerment comes because they are running out of habitat. The swamps, forests, and marginal lands where the wolves once had plenty of room are now being developed for agriculture and construction. Their future is uncertain.
A wolf's howl seems to be completely irresistible. If one member of a pack starts to howl, inevitably the other pack members will join in. They stop where they are, stretch their necks, and turn their long muzzles to the sky to utter long mournful howls. Sleeping wolves won't even bother to get up -- they raise their heads sleepily to add their voice. (Domesticated dogs sometimes howl along with a fire truck's siren -- they are reaching back through thousands of years to fulfill an instinct to sing with the group.) And wolves do, occasionally, have just such a group sing. They appear to enjoy a chorus as much as humans do.
The howl isn't only irresistible to wolves. Humans are hard pressed not to howl back when one person imitates a wolf's cry. In fact, every now and then humans attempt to locate a wolf pack by howling. At first there is a bewildered silence, but persistence pays off -- if there is a wolf within hearing, it will often join in a human chorus.
A group sing is not the only time wolves howl. Sometimes a chorus will precede a hunt. It's sort of a pep rally to get all the members excited and ready to go. But once the hunters far, far away. Because they have such excellent hearing, the hunting pack may be able to hear the baby sitter's howl if something goes wrong at home. The "oo" sound of the howl has long frequency waves that carry farther than shorter vowel sounds. So the howl is also an effective method of long-distance communication.
Wolf Body Language
Wolves communicate in many different ways. Vocally, they bark, growl, yip, and grunt. Their powerful howls are effective for long distance communications. They leave -- and read -- scent messages. And they communicate with body language. The alpha wolf has a bold, upright stance. He carries his tail in a relaxed curve and he holds his head high. Underlings defer to him by holding their heads low and keeping their tails down. They crouch and wag their tails hopefully. They are subservient to him and show it even in their posture. It's very confrontational to look directly at the alpha, so his pack never faces him outright. Instead they glance shyly at the leader from the side.
The pack begs for attention from the leader by nipping gently at his muzzle. A lesser wolf will lie down before the alpha and roll over to expose its belly. This is a gesture of trust and loyalty, as the belly is the wolf's most vulnerable area. If the alpha is angered, he will crouch over the reclining offender, stare eye to eye, draw back the lips to show a mouthful of strong teeth, and utter a rumbling, terrifying growl. That's usually as much as it takes to keep the pack in line; wolves very rarely resort to actual violence within the group. This declaration of status by body language works not only for the alpha, but for all pack members. Each wolf can prove its authority over a lesser wolf, or subservience to a greater wolf, by body language. The wolf and the dog are different animals, but dogs and wolves share some of the same behaviors. If you are threatened by a strange dog, remember that staring directly at the dog will be perceived as a challenge. Something as small as that could provoke a dog to attack.
In the summer, when the pups are too small to be moved frequently, the wolf pack has a small home range. Usually, a hunting group will leave the den area at sunset and return around sunrise. The den is the center of the wolf pack's life because the pups are a constant magnet -- each member is concerned for the pups' safety and happiness. When an afternoon's rest overtakes the adults, they are usually found snoozing near the den, available at the faintest yip of puppy alarm.
In summer, when food is plentiful, a home range is comparatively small -- even less than fifteen square miles for a small pack. In winter, food is harder to find and the pack must spend more time searching for prey. By that time the pups have grown enough to travel over many miles, covering as much as 125 miles in one day. (Wolves can sprint up to 30 miles an hour during a chase but can trot at about five miles an hour almost indefinitely.) During winter, the home ranges can be enormous. One pack in Alaska maintained a winter home range of several thousand square miles. The range size depends on the available prey, the size of the pack, and the number of wolf packs in the region.
Wolves from differing packs prefer to avoid each other, so buffer zones tend to emerge between one home range and another. When a wolf chooses to leave the pack, it can travel phenomenal distances to establish its own home range -- or it can take up residence in a buffer zone. While the buffer zone is the easier choice, the lone wolf is constantly subjected to being chased off by not one but two packs, each defending its territory.
Wolf Historic Range
At one time, wolves were distributed over an immense part of the northern hemisphere. Certainly, wolves lived across most of the United States within the last two hundred years. (The only exception was in the Southeast, where the red wolf filled the gray wolf's niche in the environment.) Even today, there are still a few wolves left in the extreme Southwest and Mexico. (The Mexican wolf is a subspecies of the gray wolf, and is considered extremely endangered.) Today the gray wolf is found in a few northern states in very low numbers. Only Minnesota is home to enough gray wolves for them to be considered in the threatened category. ("Threatened" is one step safer than "endangered.")
Across our northern border into Canada, the wolves are in somewhat better shape. There, millions of acres of woodland and wilderness have offered a refuge for wolves. Wolves that are reintroduced to the United States are usually Canadian by birth. Some emigrate naturally, choosing to move south to find new home ranges.
There is no record of a healthy wolf attacking a human in the wild. That's a surprising fact, considering the "Big Bad Wolf" fairy tales we learn as children. There is some belief that European and Asian wolves might at one time have been more fierce than their American cousins. It's hard to prove. Wolves in Europe and Asia are now so scarce and so timid that any fierceness, if it was ever there, seems to have vanished. There, as in North America, a wolf would rather run from a human than confront one.
A wolf pack's habitat is limited only by the same criteria all animals require: a source of food, a clean water supply, a safe place to rear young, and enough space to establish a home territory. Because gray wolves avoid humans when possible, that home range must be in relatively isolated wilderness lands. Wolves, relatively isolated wilderness lands. Wolves, like all predators, are an essential part of any balanced ecosystem and live in harmony along with many other animals.
The last wolves in the British Isles were killed in the 1700's. For the most part, wolves were exterminated in Europe in the 20th century, although a stable population can be found in the Balkans, and remnant populations still exist in less developed parts of Portugal and Spain, Italy, Poland, Scandinavia, and the area that once called Czechoslovakia. Gray wolves are considered rare but are still found throughout much of their ancient range in southwestern and south-central Asia, but they have been extirpated in Japan. They were aggressively hunted throughout what used to be called the Soviet Union, but some reports indicate that the gray wolves are making a comeback in that region's less-populated areas.
Wolves have been reintroduced to the north side of Yellowstone National Park and to the Salmon River in Idaho. Biologists are also heartened by what they suspect were gray wolf tracks found inside Yellowstone even before the reintroduction -- it's possible that a wolf pack has already naturally extended its range to include the park. Unconfirmed tracks near DuBois, Wyoming are raising hopes in that area. In North Dakota, populations are expanding into the state from neighboring Minnesota and Canada. Populations are also expanding in, and into, Montana, Idaho, and Washington.
Miracles In the Snow
Through the transient fog of the dark winter night,
peered haunting blue eyes with their soft glowing light.
The powerful stare with its brilliance and intricacy,
brought on a shivering response full of caution and mystery.
They seemed to float through the air with great charm,
in an effort to announce that "they meant you no harm."
Yet as subtle as the movements had tried to be,
an eerie feeling of desolation abruptly overtook me.
As I fell to the frozen, unforgiving, forest floor,
I noticed those two eyes hade been accompanied by two more!
Soon their were three enchanting pairs upon me,
watching and listening, gliding through the trees,
With one final shiver the dark night became black,
I knew as I slept, that I would not be coming back.
I dreamt of a thousand things that night,
mostly about a past I wanted to fix and make right.
The bright morning sun was the next thing I saw,
which was followed by the touch of a rather large paw!
And after providing a steaming kiss on the nose,
The wolf disappeared, and I arose.
In the snow at my feet, there were paw prints all about,
and the surrounding outlines of the bodies, which helped keep the winter out.
The howl which followed, echoed forever it seemed...
Conveying the heartfelt message, "you are important to me." Wolf Poem Miracles In the Snowwritten by The "spiritwolf" Brian D. Schmidt
"Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf." ~ Wolf Links on the Web.
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