GPS Tracking Shows How Much Wolf Packs Avoid Each Other’s Range


This image of GPS tracking of multiple wolves in six different packs around Voyageurs National Park was created in the framework of the Voyageurs Wolf Project. It is an excellent illustration of how much wolf packs in general avoid each other’s range.

wolf pack ranges
Image credit: Thomas Gable

In Voyageurs National Park a typical wolf pack territory is somewhere around 50-70 square miles but that can vary from year to year. So that’s about the size of the areas marked with the different colors. The white line marks the boundary of the national park.

Credit: Voyageurs Wolf Project

As beautifully demonstrated by the animation, wolf packs generally avoid being around each other unless they are fighting for food that may be in short supply. When that occurs, they may engage in battles with other packs 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 due to human activity as well. 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 also create conflicts among the various wolf packs due to overstepping their bounds.

Sources: Voyageurs Wolf Project, Wolfworlds

30 COMMENTS

  1. The white pack are the stoners of this group. They travel half as much and stumble deep into other pack’s territories, a lot. They’re probably trying to bum some Doritos from their neighbours.

  2. Now this is just showing that packs in Voyagers National Park. It would also be interesting to see a correlaction between those packs and the packs just outside of the park.

  3. Interesting. Food, water, safety and geography, each pack has their own home bases which is demonstrated best by the white pack. I would be curious as to how many members of each pack were carrying transmitters.

  4. Interesting. Food, water, safety and geography, each pack has their own home bases which is demonstrated best by the white pack. HI would be curious as to how many members of each pack were carrying transmitters.

  5. I am seriously curious if this is raw GPS data, corrected and/or smoothed. GPS coverage in forest canopy areas is subject to coverage anomalies. Some of these can take the form of positional jumps and during a time series like this can look almost normal. I have worked with gps receivers placed in vehicles with less than adequate views of the sky and have learned the hard way.

  6. Gentlemen…sounds like you all are Wolf savoy. I suggest you contact Rick McIntyre
    A wolf biologists. In spring, summer and fall you can find him in Lamar Valley. Rick was instrumental with bringing wolves back to Yellowstone. Rick is the man about wolves.

  7. I LOVE seeing all the IDIOTS chiming in! But I think Kira’s right, the White pack is more gutsy. Great study, thanks! I reread Ian’s statement 3 times and it’s still Bla Bla Bla!

  8. With only 6 packs and human interaction causing fragmented populations, wonder how closely related these packs are and how data can be understood.
    The age and genetics are only data they cannot explain history or relationships.

      • I think Ian was saying that it would be great if the colors also told the story of their relationships if any ( mothers to sons and daughters and fathers, brothers and sisters)with each as well and not just pack colors. That would explain orientations as well and how repelling from other territories prevents inbreeding.

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