Image shows a retreating wolf, not a protector

15 July 2021
What was claimed

Female wolf is acting as part of a ‘fighting unit’ and showing trickery and loyalty by protecting her partner’s neck in a fight.

Our verdict

This is wrong. None of the wolves in the image are female, and the wolf which appears to be ‘protecting’ a partner's neck was likely just to be turning away.

A Facebook post shows a picture of three wolves entitled ‘a fighting unit’. Underneath, a caption says “A she-wolf hides under a male. She doesn’t seem frightened by his opponent, but that’s only because she trusts her partner and believes in his strength. Male wolves never attack a female, and she knows it. Why does she hide then? By doing this, the resourceful female protects her partner’s throat against an attack”. 

This narrative is untrue.

The image, ‘wolf fight’, was taken by photographer Jean Paul and uploaded to Flickr in 2009. It shows three wolves, two of which appear about to fight. The third wolf is cowering beneath one of the fighting wolves’ heads and is covering its neck. The caption says that the image was taken in Ely, Minnesota.

The claim attached to the image on Facebook—that one of the wolves is female, and is using her stance to protect a male wolf's neck—appears to come from a post on Reddit in 2016. 

Fact checkers Snopes, previously spoke to wolf expert Cameron Feaster at the International Wolf Center in Ely who said that “little of anything in that photo’s statement is correct.” 

Mr Feaster was familiar with the wolves, and said none of the three shown in the image are female. He also said that the crouching wolf was simply submitting and trying to turn back, and collided into another male wolf. 

Rather than showing a female wolf protecting the neck of her male partner, the photograph simply shows a collision between two male wolves as one tries to flee. 

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because none of the wolves in the image are female, and the attached narrative is untrue.

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