“Alpha Male” Wolf Shot. Now What Happens?

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Alpha male shot as wolves set up territory west of Helsinki

“Wildlife authorities say that a new wolf pack has established a territory in Raseborg, but that its future is in doubt after the apparent shooting of its alpha male. Hunters had been issued with a special permit to shoot a young male.”<<<Read More>>>

*Staff Notes* – This concept of “alpha male” and “alpha female,” in wolves, is mostly because of Dr. David Mech’s book, published in 1970 (47 years ago), “The Wolf: Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species.” Perhaps a prime example of sticking with outdated theories that conveniently fit political narratives, despite Mech’s efforts to stop publication of that book because of outdated material, the idea of “alpha” wolves carries with it a wrong perspective; that being that with the loss of an “alpha” wolf, a pack is at risk of destruction.

Mech writes: “One of the outdated pieces of information is the concept of the alpha wolf. “Alpha” implies competing with others and becoming top dog by winning a contest or battle. However, most wolves who lead packs achieved their position simply by mating and producing pups, which then became their pack. In other words they are merely breeders, or parents, and that’s all we call them today, the “breeding male,” “breeding female,” or “male parent,” “female parent,” or the “adult male” or “adult female.” In the rare packs that include more than one breeding animal, the “dominant breeder” can be called that, and any breeding daughter can be called a “subordinate breeder.”

One of WEI’s representatives in Finland writes: “We have had a huge debate in Finland about this issue. Again the green league succeeded in bringing up this topic to the media. A wild wolf usually dies at an age of 7-8  years and an alpha-couple produces about 4 litters during their lifetime. What happens with the alpha’s last litter? Nothing because life goes on and a new “alpha” replaces the one that died. Usually the “new” alpha is one of the youngsters in the pack. We have several examples where an alpha has been shot during the wolf hunting in January and within a couple of weeks this alpha is replaced by another.”