February 6, 2023

Rare Double Litter Wolf Packs?

The Jackson Hole News and Guide has an article about “rare” large wolf packs, stating that the Lava Mountain Pack is the biggest in the West, boasting a brood of 24 and describing it as, not only “rare” but composed of a “double litter.”

I find it odd that the article quotes Mike Jimenez, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) regional wolf coordinator, calling the double litter “uncommon” along with the rarity of a pack of wolves numbering 24, while spending several paragraphs to explain the history of the many large packs of wolves in the West, including some larger than the Lava Mountain Pack. It has now become a common occurrence to read and hear about “Superpacks” sometimes numbering around 200.

Another issue that sent up a red flag for me was about the double litter, or the “uncommon” multiple litters and “rare” large packs. Dr. David Mech once wrote:

“Calling a wolf an alpha is usually no more appropriate than referring to a human parent or a doe deer as an alpha. Any parent is dominant to its young offspring, so “alpha” adds no information. Why not refer to an alpha female as the female parent, the breeding female, the matriarch, or simply the mother? Such a designation emphasizes not the animal’s dominant status, which is trivial information, but its role as pack progenitor, which is critical information. The one use we may still want to reserve for “alpha” is in the relatively few large wolf packs comprised of multiple litters. … In such cases the older breeders are probably dominant to the younger breeders and perhaps can more appropriately be called the alphas. … The point here is not so much the terminology but what the terminology falsely implies: a rigid, force-based dominance hierarchy.”””(emboldening added)

Because wolves are a brand new species in the Lower 48 states, at least in modern times, we know comparatively little about wolf behavior and hierarchical structures of packs and everything that influences them. In addition, if we add to this complicated matter the existence of inbreeding, interbreeding, cross-breeding, we end up with the existence within wolf packs of things we know little about.

Forcing humans and wolves to share space may be causing much of these problems of inbreeding, interbreeding and cross-breeding. Studies tell us that there is ample cross-breeding going on all over the world. One example is a study done that showed how wolves in contact with livestock attending dogs regularly cross-breed.

This disruption is believed by some to be at least partly to blame for changes in inbreeding and interbreeding between pack members, resulting in double or multiple litters.

An Alaska Fish and Game report, states the need to determine what was causing very large increases in wolf populations and the effects, of not only a large population of wolves, but populations of wolves within packs with double or multiple litters. The report states:

…it remained unclear whether inbreeding, possibly as a consequence of social disruption, contributed to multiple pregnancies and increased population productivity.

Other studies are underway and there are implications that inbreeding, interbreeding and cross-breeding may have a much larger impact on what the Alaska Fish and Game report was concerned about, i.e. that this causes multiple pregnancies and multiple litters within packs and adjoining packs.

The reality is we don’t know enough to be able to make a strong scientific determination. The concern for everyone should be that forcing wolves into settled landscapes and protecting them in those locations may be causing the most harm and puts at risk the protection of the wolf in the long term. With continued cross-breeding, the existence of any “pure” wolves will, in time, diminish and possibly disappear. These events change conventional wolf behavior.

To call the existence of large wolf packs rare and multiple litters as uncommon, may soon become a thing of the past if efforts are not put in place to severely limit the cross-breeding of mongrel dogs with wolves.


N.C. Red Wolf Program “Disastrous, Irresponsible Farce”

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told me there were no wolves on my property and an accidental killing would not be considered a crime. Not wanting to kill a wolf or to have a judge determine if it was an accident, I decided to trap my farm with a private trapper. During the first five days of trapping (which began Jan. 21), three wolves and two hybrids were caught on my farm that “had no wolves.” It was at this point that USFWS realized they did not know where or how many wolves they had and found it necessary to grant the ‘take permit’ because they were unable to remove the unwanted wolves. This is what the law said and this is what they did. Simple enough.

Over a 30-day trapping period in January and February, 18 canines were caught. Four were red wolves. 13 were hybrids/coyotes. One was unidentified. All canines were held until USFWS red wolf biologists could identify the animals with one exception.”<<<Read More>>>