After a really mild winter, we are experiencing a very early spring here in northeast Mississippi. Our flowering trees are budding. The frogs and lizards are out. The Wolves are already beginning to shed their thick undercoats. Their winter appetites are decreasing, too. We’ve actually had near 80-degree days. Even in the mid-south, this is crazy stuff for February.
This past month our females have been frantically trying to dig dens. So much of our time is spent making sure they aren’t too close to the underground fence line and if so covering them up. They are persistent so it takes some imagination to get them to give up on a spot they have their Wolfie hearts set on.
I am happy to report that Wa-ta-chee is getting more freedom to roam around the enclosure. This past week, I’ve observed him in all four corners. I’ve even seen him help himself to the packs food pans. He has definitely lost his Alpha status. At most feeding times either Niko Akni or Chito chase him back over to the den so I’m still bringing him his own food pan. I will most likely continue to do so for awhile until I’m convinced he is able to feed freely with the rest of the pack. I did remove the water bucket I was putting next to the den though, as I’ve seen him drinking out of the other buckets hanging on the fence.
Chito seems to be the strong Alpha figure in this pack. Niko is best described right now as a dominant male Wolf in the pack. From what I’ve observed, I can’t give him the title of Alpha Male at this time. It appears that Chito has got that role covered. This is something I’ve suspected would happen for quite some time now.
Woha has gained status with Chito though that is very fragile. Woha has that naughty nature and I suspect that Chito will not put up with much of that. Woha seems to take it out on Nita, the Omega.
We conducted a brief experiment the other day. We have observed that Nita never participates in fence fighting with Ohoyo. With Chito and Woha this is a daily pastime. Nita dug what can be best described as a tunnel like den that appeared to be heading right into Ohoyo’s enclosure. After installing underground fencing there and covering it up with steel, rocks and dirt, we decided to see if Nita would like to share an enclosure with her Mother. I had reservations but was willing to give it a try. We got Nita into the gated airlock between both enclosures. Her and Ohoyo visited through the fence licking at one another’s muzzles. I opened the gate and Nita rushed in. For a few moments, the scene was heartwarming. Nita approached her submissively and it appeared that they were both happy to see each other. Chito was distraught and whining. I was concerned about how this would effect the pack structure as Omegas serve a very important role. Ohoyo became nervous when Woha and Chito approached the fence. At the same time Nita began uncovering all of Ohoyo’s food caches. Within seconds another fence fight ensued. I then observed Nita mounting Ohoyo. I could see Ohoyo’s tail tuck and the look of fear in her eye. We waited until the fence fighting died down and it was then that Nita decided if she was going to be here, she was then going to be the dominant Wolf. She mounted Ohoyo again. Ohoyo made a beeline for one of her houses and at that time, I saw Nita grab the nape of her neck. I didn’t want to put Ohoyo through this again as she has been throughly enjoying being Queen of her own domain for over a year now. We then wrangled Nita back into the airlock and put her back with the main pack. The Wolves briefly scolded her and we noticed that she seemed to be holding her head up higher. She was getting a drink when Woha approached and she actually snapped at her. As Nita trotted away, she appeared to have a real spring to her step. This experiment was good. When considering how we will place Wolves when we put up another fence, I now know that Nita will not be able to go in with the older Wolves.
Wolves are opportunists. It was the first lesson I was taught about them. Whenever they can, they will better their position in the pack. They just wait for the right opportunity. It’s a survival skill and nothing more. There is no emotion involved in their actions.
Last Sunday we took some down time and chilled with the Wolves on a Sunday afternoon. Our Wolf Webcam picked up some of the action. Enjoy the slideshow.