The sun hangs leaden from the skies over the frozen tundra of the high arctic. In the south a herd of musk oxen loiter together, digging away the icy surface of the floor to achieve healthy lichen and floor plants, oblivious as eight stealthy white characters move in about them. The circle would be impossible for a single wolf to penetrate, so the package must work as a team. Forth and back race the wolves, snapping at the legs of monsters five times their own weight. Standing shoulder to shoulder, the musk oxen hold their ground, using their enormous horns and hard skulls to throw off the charging wolves. The wolves tear from 1 side to another, shifting the disoriented herd, until one infiltrates the ring. The race doesn’t last long, for musk oxen overheat and tire easily, unlike wolves that have the ability to keep high speeds over much lengthier pursuits. The largest of the bunch, the alpha male, jumps and grasps its victim’s neck in a desperate grip. The mighty creature collapses in a heap.
Statistically, only one in ten wolf attacks are powerful, and it’s been a few days since the bunch has obtained such a massive kill. They will each eat up to 20 lbs of meat in this meal, leaving nothing of the creature behind, neither bones nor fur. A couple of miles off the alpha female cares for her month-old cubs, awaiting the herd to bring back food. The package shares in the duty, even regurgitating meat for the cubs to eat.
Arctic wolves, also called polars and whites, have flourished in the high arctic for centuries, among the few mammals able to endure the sub-zero temperatures and five weeks of darkness. Indeed, they’ve been more effective than their grey cousins to the south, who have hardly escaped extinction because of their experiences with man. There aren’t many differences between the arctic and gray wolf subspecies. The white wolf is a little shorter, standing 25-31 inches high at the shoulder. But they’re bulkier; an adult male can weigh up to 175 lbs. Smaller, rounded ears and thicker fur are physical adaptations that have enabled the arctic wolf to weather its inhospitable terrain.
To survive, wolves reside in tiny packs of 7-10. The family group is made up of a breeding group (the alpha male and female), their pups, and their unmated offspring from previous seasons. A powerful hierarchy exists within packs, along with the dominant animals will induce inferiors to cringe or lie on their backs to show respect. Lesser wolves maintain their tails at a lesser angle than the dominant man. Males reach maturity at 3 years old, but they might strike out on their own anytime after their first season. Lone wolves are in great danger, and they’ll avoid contact with other wolves unless it is a possible mate. Then the man will find and maintain an unoccupied land, marking it with its own odor.
Wolf lands are vast (as big as 800-1,000 square miles), as they need to roam areas big enough to supply the quantity of food required by a pack. Arctic wolves are located all across the northern border of the North American continent, and along the southern and eastern shores of Greenland.
Wolves might be the most misunderstood and maligned creature on the planet, as a result of their elusiveness and to superstitions extending back to prehistory. However, their package structure, hunting procedures, and general inquisitive and friendly natures imply that man and wolf could have more in common than was ever envisioned.