We’ve all heard of the "lone wolf" – but it turns out that old adage couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact wolves are highly social animals that depend on their family, or pack, for survival. Much like humans, packs work together to gather food, take care of the young, and nurse the injured – and they communicate in more complex ways than howling at the moon.
In almost all packs, the alpha male and female will be the only couple to mate in their packs. They begin to mate between the ages 2 and 3, and they will typically mate for life. Being the alpha male and female comes with some benefits – like first dibs on food – but also a lot of responsibility. They must make decisions for the pack, including where to travel and find food and how to defend their status if challenged by another wolf.
Alphas are the pack leaders, but gray wolves have very intricate social structures and each member of the pack plays a vital role in survival. Gray wolves establish strong bonds with their pack mates and will give each other a caring nudge or lick as they pass by one another. Even their growls, often perceived as aggression by humans, are a means of communicating with one another.
The bonds that gray wolves share with their packs is something we can relate to this Valentine's Day – we look out for the ones we love, protect them and work hard to maintain those bonds.