This glossary includes terms you will encounter in your reading about wolves and
wild lands. Boldfaced words within the definitions are words that are defined elsewhere
in the glossary. An on-line search can help you with terms not included in this list.
A, B, C, D, E, F,
G, H, I, J, K, L,
M, N, O, P, Q, R,
S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z
- a change in an animal's behavior or
body that allows it to live better in its surroundings. Some adaptations in wolves
include large feet with toes that spread which enable the animals to walk on snow and
ice. The large, compact feet also enable the wolf to travel long distances.
- The term sometimes used to describe the
dominant wolves in the social order of the wolf pack. Because a free-ranging
wolf pack is a family comprising the parents and their offspring, the term "alphas"
has been superseded by "breeding pair" or "breeders" or simply "parents." (See
Dominance Hierarchy) On the other hand, captive wolves that live together are
often unrelated. Therefore, competition for rank in the group may take place with a
resulting social hierarchy.
- The act of giving human
characteristics, behaviors, feelings and/or motivations to animals or objects.
Animals are frequently anthropomorphized in literature and in movies.
- What an animal does; its reactions or
actions under specific conditions.
- The term sometimes used to describe the
second rank in the social order of a wolf pack. In what researchers now consider an
oversimplified model of a wolf pack, social hierarchies were thought to operate for
males and females. This implied that a pack may have both a beta male and a beta
female. According to this model, a wolf at this rank would usually dominate all of
the other wolves in its gender except the dominant wolf. (See Alphas and
- Term used to designate
larger species that are hunted. Examples are bears, moose, deer, elk, caribou and
bighorn sheep. In many states, selected species are legally designated as big
game, small game (rabbits, squirrels, game birds) and non-game (songbirds,
birds of prey).
- The variety,
complexity and relative abundance of species (plant and animal) present and interacting
in an ecosystem.
- A person who studies living organisms,
life processes and/or the animal and plant life of a particular place. Biologists also
study the relationship of living things to one another.
- A payment or other reward for removing
or killing certain species of animals designated as harmful. Federal and state governments
have used bounties as part of their predator control programs to encourage people to
- The term used to refer to the male
and the female in the pack who mate and produce offspring.
- An area between territories occupied
by established wolf packs. Prey species often flourish in buffer zones. Wolves that
have dispersed and that are alone often find relative safety and food in buffer zones
with less risk of being attacked and killed by members of established packs. However,
buffer zones are not necessarily neutral areas and therefore safe havens. These zones
may be contested by resident packs.
- a hiding place used for storing food if
there is an abundance of meat from a kill; v. to store or hide.
- A member of the taxonomic family Canidae,
which in North America includes wolves, coyotes, foxes and domestic dogs.
- The sharp, pointed teeth (fangs) that
carnivores use to pierce and tear the flesh of their prey.
- The scientific name for the gray wolf.
- The scientific name for the red wolf.
Two recognized species of wolves live in North America - Canis lupus and
Canis rufus. Some scientists have proposed that the eastern wolf, Canis lupus
lycaon is a distinct species, Canis lycaon.
- Breeding animals in such places
as zoos. Captive breeding is a tool to save critically endangered species such as the
Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus balleyi) and the red wolf (Canis rufus). These captive
populations may be used for reintroduction in designated areas. The wolves that were
reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho were not bred in captivity.
They were captured in Canada and transported to the northern Rocky Mountains and released.
The red wolves reintroduced in northeastern North Carolina were, on the other hand,
bred in captivity because red wolves were officially declared functionally extinct
in the wild.
- An animal that eats meat.
- The total number of a species
that a given area of a habitat can support at any given time; the ability of a given
area to supply water, food and shelter to a species.
- The color of an animal's pelage (fur),
which is determined by genetics and may vary within a population. White, gray and black
color phases may be seen within the same gray wolf population. In the Western Great Lakes
region, about 98 percent of the gray wolf population exhibits the gray phase, with the
occasional occurrence of white or black phases. The predominant color phase within a
population often corresponds to the overall color of its environment. For example,
the white color phase is predominant in arctic regions. The word "phase" does not
imply that a wolf changes color.
- Protection of natural resources from
loss, waste or harm; the wise and intelligent use of natural resources so they will
be available for future generations.
- A shelter, often a small cave or hole dug out
of the ground, to protect the breeding female and her young pups from weather and
- Removing a plant or animal from the
list of endangered species when it is no longer in danger of extinction.
- Refers to damage done by wildlife
to people's crops and domestic animals. This term is primarily used when referring to
situations involving wolves or other carnivores killing or maiming domestic animals,
such as livestock.
- The act of an organism leaving its
birthplace and moving to where it will live as an adult. Dispersal in wolves usually
involves a young, sexually maturing wolf leaving the pack, perhaps due to rivalry with
other members of the pack, intense bonds formed with an individual wolf from outside
of the pack or lack of sufficient resources within the pack's territory to support
the number of wolves present.
- A wolf that leaves the pack and
strikes out on its own. Some of these "lone wolves" have no social territory,
and they live on the fringes of established packs or in the areas where several territories
come together. Their single status may make them vulnerable to malnutrition and to attacks
by other wolves. Dispersers will sometimes hunt in unoccupied areas between pack
territories called buffer zones. Some wolves are seeking a partner and may travel
hundreds of miles from where they were born. Males and females may meet and form new
packs if they can find unoccupied territory with sufficient prey.
- A term created
in the 1978 amendments to the Endangered species Act (ESA) allowing vertebrate
species to be divided into distinct groups based on geography and genetic distinction. This
controversial amendment to the ESA allows the United States Fish and Wildlife Service
(USFWS) to adopt different management practices, including the level of protection,
for different populations according to their need. The current DPSs are Northern Rocky
Mountain, Western Great Lakes, Southwestern and Eastern.
- Referring to species which have
descended from wild ancestors but have been tamed, kept in captivity and bred over
many generations for human purposes. They are usually dependent upon humans for their
- A linear "chain of command"
concept describing rank within a wolf pack established through competition and conflict.
According to this model, the strongest male and female are the "alphas," and the
second in rank are the "betas." The "omega" wolf is the lowest ranking wolf, often
having to beg food and always losing fights. While this status hierarchy may exist
in captive packs comprised of unrelated individuals, natural wolf packs usually
consist of parents and their offspring of various years. In a free-ranging wolf family,
each wolf seems to know its standing and communicates it to the others. The parents
are in charge, with the older siblings next in order of dominance followed by the
pups of the current year.
- Having power, control and privilege over
others within a social hierarchy.
- A scientist who studies the interrelationship
of living things to one another and to their environment.
- The science of relationships between plants,
animals and the environment.
- A more or less discrete system or
community formed by the interaction of living organisms with each other and with the
physical factors found in their environment.
- The physical occupation of space or
habitat which was previously occupied by another species, resulting in displacement
of this species or destruction of the species, if no alternative space or habitat is
- Referring to a species (plant or animal)
currently in danger of extinction.
- A Congressional act
(16 U. S. C. 1531 et. seq.) passed in 1973 and amended through the years that provides
for the identification and protection of species (plants and animals) currently in danger
of extinction or threatened by extinction within the foreseeable future.
- a concept added to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as a way of reintroducing
a species without severe restrictions on the use of private and public land in the area.
Members of an experimental population can have special rules written for them which
may include killing animals causing depredations (killing or harming domestic
animals and/or livestock). This was proposed in order to reduce public opposition to the
reintroduction of a major predator such as the wolf. If loss of the population would
diminish the species' prospects for survival, the population is designated as
essential and is treated as an endangered species. If the experimental population is
designated as non-essential and is treated as a species that is proposed for listing
as threatened or endangered. Examples of species with non-essential experimental
populations are the Mexican gray wolf in the Southwest, the red wolf in the Southeast,
the gray wolf in the Yellowstone area and the black-footed ferret.
- To get rid of by destroying or killing.
- No longer in existence. Once a species
is extinct, all individuals within this species have forever vanished from the planet.
- To destroy or eliminate a species
(plant or animal) from an entire area within its range, but not from the entire planet.
- The behavior of eating a
great deal of food in a short time and then not eating for an extended period. A single
wolf has been known to eat up to 22 pounds of meat at one time. The wolf then rests while
this food digests. It may be several days or several weeks before the wolf gets another
significant amount of food.
- A periodical published by the
United States Government which advertizes actions or proposed actions by federal agencies.
The Federal Register is available at all major libraries and federal offices. It is the
federal government's primary means of releasing information to the public.
- Domesticated animals that have gone wild.
Examples are wild burros, goats, pigs, cats and dogs. There is an important distinction
between a feral dog and a wild dog. Sometimes livestock depredations are blamed on
wolves when, in fact, the killing was done by a feral dog or a hybrid.
- A behavior which pups and sometimes
sub-adults use to get food from dominant members. The pup or subordinate lowers its
body posture and licks around the muzzle of the wolf with the food. It may whine. Pups
may induce adults to regurgitate food by engaging in food-begging. Adults with food may
simply give some or all of the food. The breeding female sometimes uses food-begging
to induce the breeding male to deliver food to her when she is confined to the
den with young pups.
- Legal name for animals that may be
regulated and hunted under regulations and laws.
- Part of the classification system used to
identify plants and animals. Wolves are of the genus Canis along with coyotes and
- Pregnancy - The period between
fertilization and birth. For a wolf this period is 62 - 63 days.
- The geographical
area including parts or all of: Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, Beaverhead,
Gallatin, Custer, Shoshone, Bridger-Teton and Caribou National Forests, and various
National Wildlife Refuges; the headwaters of three major river systems: the Yellowstone,
the Snake and the Green Rivers; and parts or all of the Salt River, Northern Rocky,
Absaroka and Wild River Mountain Ranges. Greater Yellowstone encompasses an area roughly
the size of West Virginia and is home to some of the world's most unique wild lands and
wildlife that together constitute one of the earth's most diverse and dynamic natural
regions. Greater Yellowstone Area map.
- The long outer hairs of an animal's
coat that keep the downy underfur from getting dirty or wet. The underfur keeps the
animal warm by preventing heat loss from the body.
- The natural environment of a species
(plant or animal) that provides the food, water, shelter or cover and space required
for it to survive. Forests, deserts and lakes are but a few examples of habitats.
- The act of destroying an
entire habitat or any significant part within the habitat.
- One method of wolf recovery is the
reintroduction of wolves to areas from which they have been extirpated.
In a hard release, wild wolves are brought from another area and released immediately
without a period of time to acclimate to their new surroundings. The hard release method
was used in central Idaho when wild wolves were brought from Canada and released without
spending a period of time in "holding pens." Reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone
was, on the other hand, done by the soft release method.
- The intentional gathering of plants,
animals and natural resources. In wildlife management, hunting is one form of
harvesting in which animals are killed.
- The offspring resulting from reproduction
between two closely related species, Dogs, wolves and coyotes can interbreed and
produce fertile offspring. The subject of wolf-dog hybrids is controversial. Many
people believe that if they obtain such a hybrid, they will get an animal that looks
like a wolf and acts like a dog. This is often not the case, however. Hybrids sometimes
have a dog's aggressive nature combined with a wolf's shyness and fear of humans.
This combination can produce an "aggressive predator," a potentially dangerous animal.
- a specific species selected
for monitoring by animal scientists in order to get a general indication of the
health of the ecosystem in which the animal lives.
- All of the pups born during a single birth
to an adult female wolf.
- Animals that are domesticated, such as
cattle, sheep, horses and mules that are raised on a farm or ranch.
- Length of time an animal lives.
- The act of providing direction for the
use, control, enhancement or protection of a species (plant or animal) or its
- a skin condition caused by a parasitic mite.
Mange is characterized by intense itching and hair loss. Excessive hair loss can result
in hypothermia and death.
- The relative frequency of deaths
in a population.
- An area of public land
designated and managed by the federal government (Forest Service) to assure an ongoing
supply of natural resources. These include grazing land for livestock, minerals, timber
and opportunities for recreational and scenic use.
- A tract of land declared public
property by the federal government to be used for cultural and recreational purposes.
National parks are managed by the National Park Service.
- The lowest ranking member in the social
order of a wolf pack. Natural wolf packs may not have a single omega wolf. However,
low-ranking members of a wolf pack such as young, sexually maturing males and females
may become dispersers, especially if food is scarce.
- A family of wolves that lives and works
together to hunt for food and take care of the pups. It usually consists of a male
and female parent (the breeding male and the breeding female or breeding pair) and
their offspring from one or more generations. The size of the pack may depend on
prey density and size. For example, wolves that prey on moose or bison may form larger
packs because these large animals may be easier to kill when two or more wolves
participate. However, a large pack requires a lot of food; the more wolves, the more
quickly a kill is consumed.
- The entire coat of hair or fur, including
the soft, furry undercoat as well as the coarse guard hairs, on a mammal.
- The skin and fur of an animal. Note that
the pelage is the coat of hair and fur. The pelt is the skin as well as the hair and fur.
- Harassment or cruel treatment.
- The period in the annual cycle when
the conditions for living and finding food are least favorable. For wolves, the pinch
period is often in late summer when prey are in prime condition and difficult to catch,
but when growing pups still need to be fed.
- Illegal taking of wildlife.
- All of the individuals from the same
species (or closely-related species) that are closely associated and that occupy a
- The act of an animal capturing and
eating other animals.
- An animal that captures and eats other
- Protection of wildlife and
habitat which emphasizes non-consumptive values and uses such as no direct use
by humans. Conservation, on the other hand, emphasizes both consumptive and
non-consumptive use of resources.
- An animal that is captured and eaten by
- Lands owned by the general public
and managed by state or federal agencies such as the National Park Service or the
- The relative social positions of animals
in a pack. The more dominant animals are higher in rank. In a free-ranging
wolf pack, the highest ranking members are usually the parents. The older siblings
are higher in rank than the pups of the current year. In a captive group of wolves,
rank may be determined through competition and sometimes conflict.
- The geographic area over which an entire
species is distributed. This range is usually determined by the available habitat
needed by a species to survive, thus range can change as the available habitat is
altered or destroyed.
- The natural restoration of a
population to an area within its original range.
- The natural or assisted restoration of
a population to specified levels for minimum number of consecutive years to a
designated area within its original range.
- The act of bringing individuals
of a certain species (plant or animal) back into a designated area within the species'
original range, but from which it was extirpated or nearly eliminated.
The purpose of reintroduction is to establish a new population in the wild.
- An above ground area, usually
open and near water, where pups are taken when they are old enough to leave the birth
den. The wolves gather there to sleep, play and eat. Wolves may move from one
rendezvous site to the next until the pups are old enough to accompany the adults on
their hunts and travels.
- Animals that are residents of
a specific area on a year-round basis as opposed to migratory animals.
- Fecal matter or feces.
- An animal that eats animals it did not
kill directly but that have died from other causes such as disease, starvation or
- The act of marking an area with
body odor, scent from a gland, or urine or scat. This technique is used by wolves to
communicate with other wolves and animals. For example, scent marks tell other wolves
the locations of a pack's territorial boundaries.
- an animal that lives in a group with
its own kind. Wolves are highly social animals because they live in a pack or family
according to strict cooperative rules. The pack members are dependent on one another
for survival, and they all participate in the care and nurturing of the young.
- A reintroduction strategy whereby
the animal is brought to the release area and kept in a "holding pen" or enclosure
in order to become acclimated to its surroundings. Soft release was used with the
reintroduction of the wolves to Yellowstone. The central Idaho wolves were, on the
other hand, reintroduced by hard release.
- A subgroup of genus and part of the
classification system scientists use to identify plants and animals. Although there
is some debate among scientists, two species of wolves are recognized in the U.S. -
Canis lupus, the gray wolf, and Canis rufus, the red wolf. The proper name of a
species is made up of two words: the genus name (Canis) and the specific name (lupus
- An organized method
of breeding endangered species in captivity in order to increase their
populations. Managed by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA), there
is an SSP for Mexican gray wolves and one for red wolves.
- The state agency that has
legal responsibility for the management of all or some of the wildlife in that state.
It is usually responsible for regulations and for law enforcement.
- Refers to responsible caretaking of
the environment. Stewardship is based on the premise that we are managers of natural
resources and that we are responsible to future generations for conserving and
preserving these resources.
- A harmful pressure to an organism or a. A
drought or flood or a severe winter would cause stress to a plant population and,
therefore, to animals.
- The act of acknowledging another
animal's dominance or higher rank. Wolves do this in several ways including
lying on their back and exposing their bellies, lowering their tails (or tucking the
tail between the legs), flattening their ears against their heads and assuming a lower
body position. Another behavior exhibited by submissive wolves is food begging.
- Lower ranking in power, control and
- Part of the classification system
scientists use to identify plants and animals. It is the most specific group of animals.
Scientists disagree on how many subspecies of wolves there are, but in North America,
for example, 5 subspecies of Canis lupus, the gray is the generally accepted number.
Two examples areCanis lupus arctos, the arctic wolf, and Canis lupus baleyi, the
- Brought from wildness into a manageable or
easily controlled states. Tame animals may be handled by humans and used in some
cases to perform work, Domesticated animals, on the other hand, are animals that
have, over a series of generation, become accustomed to living with humans and which
have, to varying degrees, become dependent upon humans to provide for their needs.
Domestic animals that live in a wild state are call feral animals.
- The classification or organisms in
categories based on common characteristics.
- The use of electronic equipment to
locate a distant source. Researchers use telemetry equipment, such as receivers and
antennae, to locate signals emitted from radio collars worn by wolves in their study
- An area occupied by a pack of wolves
that can provide sufficient prey to support the pack. It is defended against wolves
from outside of the pack and from other animals that might compete for the same
resources. Wolves protect their territory by scent-marking, vocal communication and
by harassing or fighting wolves that trespass.
- Referring to a species (plant or animal)
that could become endangered in the foreseeable future.
- A predator, usually large in size,
that is rarely killed by other predators and may kill smaller predators. Wolves are
top predators and have few natural enemies. They may kill smaller predators such as
coyotes. Sometimes wolves and bears will tangle, but this is infrequent as such
encounters can be dangerous or deadly to both.
- A print left by an animal. Wolf tracks are
large in comparison to most domestic dogs and other canids such as coyotes. The front
feet are larger than the back feet. Claws are usually visible. This is one way to
distinguish a wolf track from a mountain lion track. Mountain lions (cougars) walk
with their claws retracted the way a domestic cat does.
- The development of the transistor
radio in the 1950's lead to the ability to fit animals and birds with VHF collars.
Miniaturization was the key to making this possible. Several types are collars are
deployed on wolves: (1) VHF Tracking Collar (2) Satellite Collar (3) Global Positioning
Systems (GPS) Collar (4) GPS/Argos Collar Satellite collars are particularly useful for
long-range movement. Implants are sometimes used for animals with cone-shaped heads but
are not as efficient as collar transmitters because flesh can attenuate the signal.
- To move animals from one area to
another. For example, wildlife managers translocated wolves from Canada to Yellowstone
National Park and to central Idaho as part of the reintroduction effort in the northern
- A hoofed mammal, such as deer, elk,
mountain goat, bighorn sheep, moose, antelope, caribou and bison.
- A self-supporting population
with sufficient numbers and genetic variety among healthy individuals and breeding
pairs that are well enough distributed to ensure that the species will not become
threatened, endangered or extinct in the foreseeable future.
- The area in the United
States south and west of the Great Lakes - especially Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
- Not tame or domestic. Wild animals obtain
their own food and provide for their own needs in an area that serves as a suitable
- An uninhabited area left in its
natural condition. Wilderness areas designated by the federal government are for
non-consumptive use of resources, although hunting is permitted during designated
season. Forest fires are not fought in federal wilderness areas, and no machinery is
permitted, not even chain saws. Visitors are encouraged to "leave only footprints,
take only memories."
- Animals that are not tamed or
domesticated. Wildlife can range in size from microscopic organisms to animals as
large as whales.
- A term referring to the
technical and scientific skills applied to protect, conserve, preserve,
extend and limit the value of wildlife and wildlife habitat.