Yellowstone National Park Photos: Wolves of the Park

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Thirty-one gray wolves were transplanted from Alberta, Canada, to Yellowstone National Park over two winters in 1995 and 1996. A highly controversial undertaking, the wolf reintroduction program was the first time these animals had set foot in the Yellowstone ecosystem since the last animal was shot by hunters in 1926.  
Credit: courtesy, NPS 
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Highly loyal animals, wolves travel and hunt in packs. Usually organized around a leading alpha male and female pair, the pack usually targets young, old, and sick prey, weakened by tough winter conditions or infirmity, for example.  
Credit: Corel 
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Wolf packs can number as many as 30 animals, though packs of a dozen or so are more common, particularly given the limited range and prey sources in lower 48 wolf habitat. A pack's territory can range from 50 square miles up to 1,000 in remote corners of Alaska and Canada.  
Credit: courtesy, NPS 
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Wolves require about four pounds of food per day, though this rises to about five when the animals are reproducing. They can go without food for up to ten days, although a fresh kill can deliver some 20 pounds on which the animal can gorge itself.  
Credit: Corel 
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Wolves cleverly isolate prey in a unique example of team hunting. They can run at up to 35 mph in pursuit of prey, though they rarely sustain this over long distances. Wolves are particularly successful hunters in winter, when deep snow gives them an advantage over less nimble prey.  
Credit: Corel 
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Gray wolves in the wild have a life span of six to eight years, though some have lived to as old as 16 in captivity. Although territorial, wolves have been known to roam as far as 550 miles in search of mates or prey.  
Credit: Corel 
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Wolves breed in early spring, producing litters of four to six pups. From the original 31 animals relocated to Yellowstone, gray wolves in the Greater Yellowstone area now number approximately 300, an incredible stat for the pioneering, decade-old species reintroduction program.  
Credit: courtesy, NPS 
 
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