Advice from a Wolf ~ Trust your instincts. Be at home in nature. Keep your den clean. Stand fur what you believe. Howl with your friends. Be a leader. Pack life with good memories. ~ Ilan Shamir
Wolves – a most controversial subject, across the ages and around the globe. And why not, as we were raised to fear this highly intelligent creature, as far back as medieval times. They have become associated with what we instinctively fear – the dark, light of a full moon in the deep, dark forest, lonely howls.
The tale of Little Red Riding Hood, a book many had read to them in their childhood, dates back to the 1700’s, originally published by French author Charles Perrault. Although the storyline has changed over the years, passed from French, to German, to English hands, one thing has remained constant, the big bad wolf.
The legend of the werewolf has swirled around since Ancient Greek times, 9th to 6th century BC. Although each country has its own theory on how one shape-shifts from man to beast, folklore abounds.
Spanning the globe there have been many reports of wolf attacks on humans, with India seeming to have one of the largest problems with this issue today. The fact remains, however, that the primary food source for this canine is ungulates – horses, cattle, deer, bison, elk. Experts believe that wolf attacks against humans are the result of a diseased animal, human habituation, a defensive measure when provoked, or when a food supply is not readily available. Otherwise, the wolf tends to fear man, particularly in North America.
Our love affair with wolves was born several years ago in Yellowstone National Park, where Terry had the good fortune to assist the wolf biologists in some of their public education seminars. He was immediately enthralled with the various packs within the park and shared much of what he learned with me. There was nothing more thrilling back then than to stand with the wolf watchers on a crisp, clear Yellowstone winter morn, watching this magnificent, resourceful wild animal. Terry was blessed to see them interact as a family unit at the den and watch an entire pack celebrate a successful hunt, their yips and howls reverberating in the cold dawn. Speak to a rancher surrounding Yellowstone lands and his perspective takes on a whole different light. Loss of his livelihood, his livestock, is most likely foremost in mind, as well it would be.
The International Wolf Center was the reason for our side trip to Ely, MN. Their mission is clear, to “educate the public by offering the most up-to-date, accurate wolf information possible”. They envision a world where wolves co-exist peacefully with humans. The programs presented at the center by their interns are informative and passionately presented. The ambassadors at the wolf center are playful, mesmerizing, beautiful. So without further adieu, let’s meet the pack!
Six year old Aidan, 136 pounds, is the “alpha male”. Much more elusive than his mates, he seemed to carry an air about him that clearly spoke of his status in the pack.
Denali, also six years old, 134 pounds, loved to ham it up for the photographers, often coming to the window for photo ops. His and Aidan’s lineage goes back to that of the Yellowstone wolves.
Two-year old Boltz, weighing in at 112 pounds, was relaxed when his older siblings weren’t present, but clearly knew his place in the pack when they arrived on the scene.
Little Luna, two years old and the only female in the pack, is a slim 91 pounds, but we were told she can hold her own when food is presented, often times taking more than her share. She and Boltz are of the Great Plains sub-species.
If you find yourself near Ely, regardless of your opinion on this beautiful creature, the International Wolf Center is a fascinating place to visit. Yes, the wolf’s place among humans is a very controversial topic, but I wonder, if we humans cannot embrace tolerance, will we ultimately lose a piece of the wild places? And speaking of wild places, throw a kayak into the Boundary Waters while you are there. We did, and loved it!