Wolves are highly social animals that live in packs, usually consisting of eight to 15 members. An alpha male and female and their offspring comprise the pack.
The dominant alpha members determine the hunting and traveling movements of the pack and are the first to feed on an existing kill. The pack produces one litter per year, usually with only the alpha male and female mating during the months of January and March. Sometimes younger females also mate.
Experts believe that wolves mate for life. When they are two-to-three years old, breeding occurs. The pups are born in an underground den after a gestation period that lasts for 63 days. They are deaf and blind at birth, and an average litter consists of four to six pups. The mother attends to the pups, and she usually stays with them in the den.
Each pack member assists in raising the pups. The pups feed upon food that pack members bring to the den and regurgitate. Fewer than half the wolf pups born in the wild survive to adulthood. They succumb to disease; predation by predators, such as grizzly bears, cougars and foxes; and malnutrition.