Wolf Territorial Behavior
By nature wolves are very territorial animals. They can have a home range from 33 to 6,200 km2 but it depends on the type of wolf and where they reside. On average it is about 35 km2. This is quite a bit of territory for a single wolf pack to take over. That is why many of them overlap with others. It is seldom that these packs of wolves will come into contact with each other.
It is estimated that 50% of the territory of a wolf pack is covered daily. They aren’t idle for very long, making it hard to track where they are actually at. The low number of wolves as well as their movements make it harder for experts to keep a close eye on them for research and observation purposes.
Wolves do have an area of their territory that is considered to be the core. It is often in the middle of the radius of their range or very close to it. This is where up to 50% of the time of a given wolf pack will be spent. This is the location where they feel very safe so it is common for the dens where the mothers give birth to be close to the core as well.
They give warning signals of where they will be including loud howls and barking. Generally the wolf packs will avoid being around each other unless they are fighting for food that may be in short supply. When that occurs these wolf packs may engage in battles with each other in order to continue have their claim on a given location as well as the food found within it.
Wolves may need to shift their territory though based on factors implemented by humans. When people clear out part of their natural habitat they may have to find a new route to get to their food sources. This can create more conflicts among the various wolf packs due to over stepping their bounds. Yet territorial lines that are marked by urine and scents are often overlooked when it is a matter of ultimate survival for these animals.
On average, more than 60% of the deaths out there among wolves and conflicting packs is due to territorial issues. Just about all wolves live in packs but there are some loners out there. It is speculated that they have learned they can do better at staying undetected in enemy territory if they are by themselves instead of part of a unit. To compensate for this they have to hunt smaller animals such as rodents for their survival.
How do new packs develop in the wild? When offspring is born into a pack those that survive generally stay for the first couple of years of life. Studies show about half of all pups die within the first year. Less than 1/3 of them are able to make it to adulthood.
They can remain with their pack forever if they wish, but the fact that only the alpha male and the beta female generally will breed often pushes the males to go seek their own pack. They know that they won’t be able to take part in it if they remain where they are. From a scientific standpoint this is done to reduce the risk of inbreeding occurring for the wolf species out there.
They are very vulnerable when they are out on their own. The risk is greater for males that venture out than it is for females. Should their scents bring them into contact though they often will start their own wolf pack at that point in time.