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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Collection: Species Details Lewis and Clark as Naturalists
Mammal    Species Name:
Canis lupus
Original name is Canis lupus Linnaeus, 1758.

Common Name:
Gray Wolf


Leavenworth, Kansas   July 1, 1804

Predators of the Plains

Like the domestic dogs that descended from them, these carnivores are extraordinarily social.  Hunting in packs, wolves were a constant around the large herds of bison, elk, and pronghorn.  Even the speedier pronghorn was susceptible to pack-hunting wolves.  Captain Lewis described the cunning cooperation of wolves, first cutting a pronghorn from the herd, and then giving chase, one wolf after another until the animal was subdued.  In this way, pronghorn, the greatest runners on the continent, were defeated.

The most bizarre wolf behavior recorded by the Corps involved a wolf biting through the hand of Sargeant Pryor while he slept, and then turning on another man in camp.  We can only envision the commotion caused in camp that evening, and the shot-in-the-dark by one of the officers that ended the wolf's life. Imagine the wolf's surprise when the man's hand, smelling of the meat eaten at supper, came alive!

For more information about this North American mammal, click here.

Journal Entries:

Capt. Clark, June 30, 1804--Set out verry early this morning, a verry large wolf came to the bank and looked at us this morning . ....  more>>

Sound    gray wolf (0:00, 71 kb)
Credit: Isle Royale National Park
References Linné, Carl von, Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, Cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis, ed. 10, 2 vols, Holmiae: impensis direct. Laurentii Salvii, 1758

see following caption

See following caption
gray wolf resting but alert

See following caption
gray wolf

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