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To Howl or Not to Howl, That is the Question

By Edited Dec 28, 2015 0 0
Wolf Pack Howls

Why Wolves Howl

Wolf Behavior

To howl or not to howl, that is the question a wolf will answer once sizing up its situation.  Sometimes the situation calls for silent travel, especially for a lone wolf who is especially vulnerable to attacks.   But all wolves are called to howl at some point.

The sound of a howl is designed to carry over large hunting territories.  A howl may be heard for up to 10 miles. 

Howling is used by wolves to find out if another pack is in the territory ahead.  If they are answered with other wolves, the pack may choose another hunting ground, or they may bluff their way into a previously calimed territory by vocally demonstrating how many wolves are in its pack.  Wolves will create the effect of a large pack by individually adjusting their pitch to another member's howl.  Shifting notes can prevent two or more howls sounding like one.  If the wolves change their pitch quickly and frequently enougth, they can make it sound as if many more wolves belong to their pack than the actuality.  This way, an inevitable fight over the competition for prey is possibly prevented. 

Before hunting, a wolf pack will howl to motivate the team.During the hunt, pack members can communicate their own position and keep an ear on each pack member's location via howling.   After hunt rallying and celebration is also done with howling. 

Celebrating is participated by any wolf pups members.  A wolf pup follows the lead of the pack, and simply howls for pleasure when it is too young to hunt or protect itself or the pack.  The pup cannot yet distinguish each member's howl and will answer to any adult howl from as young as three months.

Pleasure howling is a large part of pack behavior.  It is as if they are engaging in a group singing and serves as a bonding experience, according to observers.

During mating season, male wolves will howl to attract females. 

Human participation in howling are available in organized wolf howling tours.  Those taking part are taught how to howl and initiate a response from a wolf.

 http://www.wolf.org/wolves/visit/daily_prog.asp  (Minnesota)

http://runningwiththewolves.org/events.htm (New York)

"Now the hungry lion roars, and the wolf behowls the moon."--Shakespeare, A Midsummer's Night's Dream

Howling for a mate?
Wolf pup exercises his unique form of speech.


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  1. by Fred H. Harrington "What's in a Howl?." NOVA Online. 4/October/2011 <Web >
  2. "Wolf Statistics and Interest: Howling." Running with the Wolves, Inc.. 4/10/2011 <Web >
  3. Conger, Cristen ""Do wolves really howl at the moon?"." HowStuffWorks.com. 28/07/2008. 4/10/2011 <Web >
  4. Lisa Matthews "Why do Wolves Howl." Wolf Song of Alaska. 4/October/2011 <Web >

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