Large wolves, closely related to those of Europe and Siberia, once infested practically all of Arctic and temperate North America, excepting only the arid desert plains. This range extended from the remotest northern lands beyond 83 degrees of latitude south to the mountains about the Valley of Mexico.
When America was first colonized, wolves were numerous everywhere in proportion to the great abundance of game animals. With the increased occupation of the continent and the destruction of most of its large game, wolves have entirely disappeared from large parts of their former domain.
They still occur in varying numbers in the forest along our northern border from Michigan westward, and south along the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Madre to Durango, Mexico, and also in all the Gulf States.
The variations in climate and other physical conditions within their range has resulted in the development of numerous geographic races, and perhaps of species, of wolves, which show marked differences in size and color. The white Arctic wolf is one of the most notable of these, but the gray wolf of the Rocky Mountain region and the eastern United States is the best known.
Since the dawn of history Old World wolves, when hunger pressed, have not hesitated to attack men, and in wild districts have become a fearful scourge. American wolves have rarely shown this fearlessness toward man, probably owing to the abundance of game before the advent of white men and to the general use of firearms among the pioneers. That wolves are extremely difficult to exterminate is shown by their persistence to the present day in parts of France and elsewhere in Europe. This is due both to their fecundity (they have from eight to twelve young), and to their keen intelligence, which they so often pit successfully against the wiles of their chief enemy – man.
Gray wolves appear to mate permanently, and in spring their young are born in natural dens among great rocks, or in a burrow dug for the purpose in a, hillside. There both parents exercise the greatest vigilance for the protection of the young. The male kills and brings in game and stands guard in the neighborhood, while the mother devotes most of her time to the pups while they are very small. At other times of year packs made up of one or more pairs and their young hunt together with a mutual helpfulness in pursuing and bringing down their prey that shows a high order of intelligence. Wolves are in fact first cousins of the dog, whose mental ability is recognized by all.
During the existence of the great buffalo herds, packs of big gray “buffalo wolves” roamed the western plains, taking toll wherever it pleased them. Since these vast game herds have disappeared only a small fraction of the wolves have survived.
There are enough, however, not only to commit great ravages among the deer and other game in northern Michigan and on the coastal islands of Alaska.
Grizzly bear picture and information (Ursus horribilis) – picarro inc
Research has shown that the popular terms grizzly or silver-tip cover a group containing numerous species of large bears peculiar to North America, some of which, especially in California, have become extinct.
These bears vary much in size, some about equaling the black bear and others attaining a weight of more than 1,000 pounds. They vary in color from pale dull buffy to nearly black, usually with lighter tips to the hairs, which produce the characteristic grizzled or silver-tipped appearance upon which the common names are based.
The strongest and most distinctive external character of the grizzlies is the long, proportionately slender, and slightly curved claws on the front feet, sometimes more than 3 inches long.
Grizzly bears have a wide range – from the Arctic coast of Alaska southward, in a belt extending from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, through western Canada and the United States, and thence along the Sierra Madre of Mexico to southern Durango. They also occupy the barren grounds of northern Canada, and vague reports of a large brown bear in the interior of the Peninsula of Labrador indicate the possibility of the existence there of an unknown species of grizzly.
From the days of the earliest explorers of the Rocky Mountain region grizzly bears have borne the undisputed title of America’s fiercest and most dangerous big game. In early days, having little fear of the primitive weapons of the Indians, they were bold and indifferent to the presence of man, and no higher badge of supreme courage and prowess could be gained by a warrior than a necklace of grizzly claws.
Since the advent of white men with guns, conditions have changed so adversely to the grizzlies that they have become extremely shy, and the slightest unusual noise or other alarm causes them to dash away at a lumbering, but surprisingly rapid, gallop. The deadly gun has produced this instinctive reaction for self-preservation. It does not mean, however, that grizzlies have lost their claim to the respect of even the best of hunters.
They are still considered dangerous, and even in recent years experienced hunters have been killed or severely mauled by them. They are much more intelligent than the black bear, and thus, when wounded, are a more dangerous foe.
Like the black bear, the grizzlies are commonly nocturnal, but in remote districts often wander about in search of food by day. They roll over stones and tear open rotten wood in search of grubs and insects, They also dig out ground squirrels and other rodents and eat a variety of acorns and other wild nuts and fruits. As an offset to this lowly diet, many powerful old grizzlies, from the Rocky Mountains to California, have become notorious cattle-killers. They stalk cattle at night, and, seizing their prey by the head, usually break its neck, but sometimes hold and kill it by biting.
Like other bears, grizzlies hibernate in winter, seeking small caves, or other shelter, and sometimes digging a den in the ground. The young, from one to four in number, are born in midwinter and are very small, naked, and but partly developed at birth. They go about with the mother throughout the summer and commonly den up with her the following winter. Although full-grown grizzlies are ordinarily solitary in habits, parties of from four to eight are sometimes seen. The object of these curious but probably brief companionships is not known.