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Wild Den: A Wolf Pup’s First Home

Mexican gray wolf pups in one of the man-made dens at the Wolf Conservation Center

A wolf pup’s first home is typically a den; it’s where they’re born and where they generally remain during their first couple of months.

Varying in size and design, a den is simply a cave or hole dug under a boulder, among tree roots, between rocks, or in the ground. Dens are often reused by generations of wolves; sometimes wolf families look for new dens every year. Occasionally wolves will use abandoned dens of other animals, such as bear, coyote, or fox dens or even a beaver dam. Although pups might emerge from the den at about three weeks old, pups tend to spend most of their time in or around the den for about two months.

The Voyageurs Wolf Project team recently counted a litter of seven pups from the Lightfoot wolf family (a.k.a. pack). This den was a narrow crevice in the rock and was only big enough to shelter the stack of pups. One can surmise that this den was not the first for the litter; it’s too small to accommodate the pups’ mother!

The Voyageurs Wolf Project is focused on understanding the summer ecology of wolves in and around Voyageurs National Park in the iconic Northwoods border region of Minnesota, USA.