Prolonged Intensive Dominance Behavior Between Gray Wolves, Canis lupus


  • L. David Mech U.S. Geological Survey, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, 8711 - 37th Street SE, Jamestown, North Dakota, 58401-7317
  • H. Dean Cluff Government of the Northwest Territories, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, P.O. Box 2668, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, X1A 2P9



Gray Wolf, Canis lupus, behavior, dispersal, dominance behavior, harassment, parent-offspring conflict, Arctic, Nunavut, Canada, behaviour


Dominance is one of the most pervasive and important behaviors among wolves in a pack, yet its significance in free-ranging packs has been little studied. Insights into a behavior can often be gained by examining unusual examples of it. In the High Arctic near Eureka, Nunavut, Canada, we videotaped and described an unusually prolonged and intensive behavioral bout between an adult male Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) and a male member of his pack, thought to be a maturing son. With tail raised, the adult approached a male pack mate about 50 m from us and pinned and straddled this packmate repeatedly over 6.5 minutes, longer than we had ever seen in over 50 years of studying wolves. We interpreted this behavior as an extreme example of an adult wolf harassing a maturing offspring, perhaps in prelude to the offspring's dispersal.