There goes a saying, "For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack” but what if one wolf got separated from the bunch? Let’s discover that sometimes one finds strength by going the solitary road.
The bond between the wolf pack seems as strong as glue in spite of intra pack fighting and fierce hierarchies. Wolf packs are led by alpha males and alpha females with individuals that play unique and important roles that help the collective survival.
So going back to the original question, what happens if one wolf got separated from his natal pack? Wolf experts calls this process as dispersal. In most cases, dispersal occurs between the ages of 1 and 2 years old, timely for sexual maturity.
One more compelling reason that pushes a wolf to hit the road is the aggression from the pack’s dominant wolves. For instance, an omega wolf or a sickly alpha wolf that can no longer lead its pack may be picked on or physically challenged to the point of leaving the group.
Especially when food is scarce, the weaker wolves may not receive adequate nutrition and leave out of necessity. Male and female wolves may disperse from packs, although in some regions, such as south-central Alaska, males may do so more frequently.
Leaving the pack means leaving the protection of that the pack offers. Because wolves are territorial in nature, loners must be cautious about entering lands that belongs to other packs. For them to find food safely, a lone wolf may need to search 100 miles away from this territories.
Or a lone wolf may "float" between the borders of pack territories, checking scent marks to make sure that it isn’t in danger. To further hide its location, a lone wolf limits its howling because it could give away its whereabouts to enemies. The exception is if a wolf accidentally gets lost from the pack, it will howl to signal its location.
Dispersal doesn't always lead to a life of loneliness. A young lone wolf may eventually cross another pack and challenge the weak alpha wolf in order to take over. However, very few wolves will simply remain lone wolves; as such, these lone wolves may be stronger, more aggressive and far more dangerous than the average wolf that is a member of a pack.
Even if lone wolves track down mates, the odds are against them. Without the support of the pack, they're more likely to die. But just because a wolf leaves its home doesn't mean it's gone forever. If a lone wolf can't succeed on its own, it may eventually return to its natal pack.
In conclusion, wolves need the pack to survive. We humans can learn a lot from lone wolves. We always need someone to cope with challenges that life brings.
But sometimes going to the road less taken can lead to some opportunities often not experienced when going with the flow and eventually finding one’s self. I want to finish the article from an old African Proverb, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together ".