- Wolves don’t make good pets. Unlike your sit-for-a-treat schnauzer whose ancestors came to the fire about 25,000 years ago, wolves have survived thanks only to their instincts. Chief among them? Avoiding humans in an increasingly crowded world.
- The wolf was once one of the world’s most widely distributed mammals with a habitat that ranged from the high Arctic to as far south as India. Persecution has reduced its population to a third, with extinction in Western Europe, Mexico and much of the United States.
- Iconic canoeist Bill Mason set out to dispel the myth of the bloodthirsty wolf by relocating three young wolves to his Quebec acreage. His 1972 documentary, Cry of the Wild, offered never-before-seen glimpses into the tender moments of pack life.
- Ever heard the saying, it takes a village to raise a child? Wolves would agree. The entire pack assists with raising, feeding and protecting the cubs. Usually only the alpha pair of a pack will mate, and most wolf couples stay together for life. Aww.
- Listen up Game of Thrones fans: Dire wolves aren’t fiction. These prehistoric wolves lived in North America two million years ago and hunted woolly mammoths, but they weren’t the size of small horses as in the books and TV show. Dire wolves were roughly the size of the largest timber wolves on record today, about 175 pounds.
- Wolves typically hunt large prey, like moose, deer, caribou or elk. A hungry wolf can ingest 20 pounds of meat in a single meal—the equivalent to a human eating 100 hamburgers.
- Often villanized in mythology, the Big Bad Wolf trope is best known from folklore tales like Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs and Peter and the Wolf. Farley Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf and the Disney movie by the same name are credited with changing the public’s perception of wolves as man-eaters. There have been just two confirmed human deaths by wild, healthy wolves in North America over the last hundred years.
- Q: What does a wolf say when it stubs its toe? A: Aooowwww!—KP
This article was originally published in Canoeroots, Volume 15 • Issue 2. Read this issue.