The game keeps track of all deaths and kills, the only exception being kill counts against Grizzly bears since the entity lacks the necessary programming due to the accomplishment being impossible during normal gameplay. Kill and death counts are displayed under the Pack Stats interface while the game is paused.
A pack in single player consists of the player, their mate and their pups; a pack in multiplayer consists of up to five human players. Both do gradually lose health as a result of hunger and fatigue.
If a player dies, they will hear a brief sound clip play as the camera pans to the front of the avatar. A short time after this has happened, their avatar will respawn with refilled health and stamina, allowing the game to resume with no penalties.
Due to a bug in v2.5.1, players' avatars will not despawn upon death during Amethyst Mountain. This can make it impossible to save if death occurred in stranger wolf territory and other areas. It is advised to save frequently in single player in order to ensure progress is not lost as a result of this issue. Resting will cause the camera to focus on the original deceased avatar, rather than panning to and around the player's active, resting avatar. The same issue also occurs during multiplayer sessions. Slough Creek is unaffected.
The mate is an essential NPC throughout the course of the game. Therefore, if they should die by any means, he or she will respawn shortly after they have met their end with health fully restored. This serves to reaffirm that a mate is the permanent companion once a bond has been established. The same is not true for dispersal wolves as they cannot be killed during an encounter and will usually leave regardless of the choices made during any socialization opportunities.
While a mate can die by predator attack, recoil damage or starvation, this likelihood decreases once pups have been born during the second episode. There is a bug that prevents the mate from eating; this issue can be fixed by reloading the save or restarting the game.
Wolf pups are constantly vulnerable to both the environment and predators, as well as being at risk of starvation if the mate cannot gather food or the player neglects to feed them themselves. Unlike the player or their mate, pups do not respawn in the event of death, meaning the only way to reclaim a lost pup would be to either reload a previous save file or, should the entire litter die, select the "restart with pups" option when prompted.
A deceased puppy will sink into the ground and despawn much faster than other animals. This may be intentional so as not to upset younger players. Additionally, the health indicator of a dead pup (shown in the HUD) is not removed from the display. The icon will be permanently empty unless reloaded or restarted.
Predator animals do not possess naturally degrading health. Most can only be killed by the player(s) and their mate.
Unlike the mate, stranger wolves are not essential NPCs. If a stranger wolf is killed, he or she will not respawn immediately, nor will they permanently disappear from the game altogether until the next replay. The game uses a pre-defined roster of stranger wolves, which includes their pack, gender and stats among other snippets of data. Some wolves in this roster can and will fight to the death with the correct interactions, whereas others will stop after a certain amount of damage, rendering their death difficult or impossible.
It is possible to encounter the same character multiple times in any game regardless of how many times the wolf was defeated, spared or the victor of an encounter.
When a stranger wolf dies, the player will receive a brief victory notification with the carcass usually despawning once the social encounter ends. As they are gray wolves, they share the same death animation as all other wolves in the game. Though wolves have been known to resort to cannibalism out of desperation, deceased stranger wolves cannot be eaten.
Throughout normal gameplay, it is impossible to kill Grizzlies due to their tendency to flee and promptly despawn after receiving three bites. It has been proven to be possible with the help of lag in multiplayer, specifically if the connection is slow or not loading at all.
The game lacks programming that would acknowledge a Grizzly's death, hence there is no kill count for them in the Pack Stats interface, no death animation and no corresponding corpse. Instead, a dead Grizzly will stand and loop through its idle standing animation until it despawns. Naturally, they cannot be eaten if successfully killed.
Coyotes are the most common NPCs encountered throughout the game, and the easiest predators to kill, often dying within three bites or more depending on the player's stat spread. They cannot be eaten.
Prey animals do not possess naturally degrading health. They can only be killed by the player(s) and their mate.
Cow elk are generally much weaker than their male counterpart. Not only are their carcasses edible from the moment they are killed during a successful hunt, theirs are the most widespread sources of food readily available from the moment the a new game is created or an existing save is loaded as a result of the natural generation process. Hence, they are the first dead animals seen from the beginning of the game.
Bull elk are far stronger, with only one being present in each herd. A deceased elk has three stages of decomposition, which changes while consuming the carcass to visibly indicate how much meat is left. They are the only NPCs in-game that have four varying models after dying. All other deaths have just one model, which will usually sink into the ground and despawn shortly afterwards.
Though small and fast, hares are by far the easiest prey animals to kill; they can be killed and consumed in a total of two bites. The same applies to wolf pups. It's not uncommon for the mate to autonomously kill a hare that spawns within close proximity while running with the player; if low on health, it will also eat its carcass.
Cattle calves are killed with one blow, but they can provide up to five or more mouthfuls of food for the player and their pups. A dead calf appears to have a stretched neck; this may be an oversight on the developers' part.