Canada is home to a number of remarkable creatures. One of these is the grey wolf, the largest member of the canine family in the world and the forebears of all domesticated dogs. The grey wolf is an apex predator with an important ecological role to play. Unfortunately, its unearned reputation as a vicious killer prone to attack humans has decreased its numbers to dangerous levels. Once ranging over most of North America, the grey wolf’s habitat is largely limited to Canada and a few areas of the United States, particularly Alaska. Because of its dwindling numbers, the grey wolf is a protected species in Canada under the National Parks Act.
The Royal Canadian Mint frequently produces pieces specifically for coin collecting that both celebrate what is special about Canada and honour its vibrant nature. The 2021 Black and Gold: Grey Wolf Fine Silver coin accomplishes both.
Features of the Grey Wolf Fine Silver Coin
There is a dual nature to the grey wolf, both intelligent predator and devoted family member. Artist Claude Thivierge has illustrated this duality in his design for this commemorative coin. The 99.99% pure silver is plated with black rhodium and yellow gold. The reverse design features two grey wolves, nuzzled together chin to chin and looking out at the viewer. While this certainly suggests the close familial ties amongst members of the same pack, it also has a larger meaning. The design evokes the yin-yang, an ancient symbol prominent in Eastern philosophy that speaks to the duality and interconnectedness of all things in nature.
Ecological Role of the Grey Wolf
The grey wolf is an apex predator. In other words, the grey wolf hunts and feeds on other animals, but nothing hunts it. Wolves are opportunistic hunters and will eat smaller mammals, such as hares, rodents, and beavers, when that is all that they can find. They will also scavenge carrion if need be, helping to clean up waste in the process.
However, wolves prefer to feed on bison, deer, elk, moose, and other large hooved animals. When farmers and ranchers started settling across the country to raise livestock, they feared that wolves would pose a threat to their animals and started hunting them indiscriminately. Nevertheless, wolves have an important ecological role to play in keeping populations of prey animals at sustainable levels. Many areas where wolves have been all but eradicated have seen unmanageable population booms of animals that wolves typically feed on, such as deer.
Social Habits of the Grey Wolf
Wolves are social creatures, living together in family groups called packs. Wolves mate for life, and a pack consists of a mated pair and their offspring, usually about seven or eight wolves in all. A mated pair produces one litter of offspring per year, usually consisting of four to six cubs. The cubs stay with the pack until they are about two years old, at which point some members leave to form new packs while others remain with their original pack. There are strict social hierarchies within wolf packs, with the alpha male being dominant over all the rest.
Wolves howl to communicate with one another over long distances. They also have many other ways of communicating with one another. Like domestic dogs, wolves bow and dance around when they are feeling playful, growl and bark as a warning, and crouch and whimper when feeling scared or submissive. Since domestic dogs are descended directly from grey wolves, it makes sense that they use the same cues for communication.
This attractive coin has sold quickly, and may not be in stock. However, there is an option to enter your email to be notified the moment one or more are again available to order. Check out this and more collectable coins released in 2021 by the Royal Canadian Mint here.