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Lone Wolf Howling

Lone wolf howling in Arizona

White Mountain, Arizona, USA

A distant lone wolf calls near a canyon rim in eastern Arizona.


Take advantage of this rare opportunity to hear a wolf in the wild by listening to this soundscape and appreciating the breathtaking sounds of this lone wolf howling in Arizona. Below, we have also collated some fascinating information about wolves. Read on.

What type of wolves live in Arizona?

The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) is a native of northern Mexico and southeastern Arizona and southern New Mexico in the US. This distribution equates to the location of Madrean pine-oak woodlands, the habitat which supports one of the Mexican wolf’s primary prey, Coues’ white-tailed deer.

The smallest (and rarest) subspecies of the North American gray wolf subspecies, the Mexican gray wolf’s pelt is yellowish-gray with black clouding to the back and tail.

What sounds do wolves make?

Wolves’ most common vocalizations, the growl, whimper, bark, and howl, are primarily used for inter-pack communication (for example, to locate members) and asserting territorial dominance against other wolves.

Barks, a defense/warning alarm call, can be heard over relatively long distances. Growling has similar connotations to barking, but can be used at closer quarters. Whimpering is used at short ranges, and can, for example, express pups’ need for care.

How else do wolves communicate?

Wolves have a remarkable olfactory capacity; their sense of smell is around a hundred times greater than that of humans. They are therefore are able to use scent marking (primarily via urination and defecation) to maintain territory or signal reproductive status. In addition, sweat glands on the feet mean that wolves leave their personal scent where they walk.

Posture and facial expressions are also important. This body language can express dominance or submission (eg, displaying the vulnerable belly), meaning that it helps to preserve social stability within the pack.

Why does a lone wolf howl?

Howls’ low pitch and long duration enables communication over several miles; in open terrain, they can carry for as much as 10 miles (16 km). 

1967 findings show that lone wolf howls are individually distinguishable. Conversely, other packs have difficulties identifying the location or number of members in a chorus of howls.

Howling maintains contact and social bonds between packs even when apart, as well as the articulation of, eg, mating intentions or mourning for lost individuals. But a lone wolf howling at the moon? A fallacy.

Are wolves endangered?

Mexican wolves, the most endangered wolf subspecies worldwide, are critically imperiled.

Between 1915-1920, the US federal and state governments systematically eradicated wolves, including killing pups in their dens, due to costly livestock losses. By the 1930s, they had been almost entirely extirpated from its historic range in the US. In 1950, the country began supplying Mexico with poison, “as a form of foreign aid”.

How can wolves be protected?

In 1976, the seven remaining Mexican wolves in the wild were captured in order to start a captive-breeding program. 

In 1998, 11 individuals born into this program were reintroduced in Arizona. In 2023, 241 Mexican wolves are living wild in the US and 45 in Mexico. However, reintroduction remains controversial; many locals are still resistant due to wolves’ predation of livestock.

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