If you’ve been following me for a while you know that I love animals, and I love taking pictures of them, especially in the wild. One of rarest animals to find in the wild is one of the many species of wolf. They may see you, but seeing them…good luck with that. There are however a few places in North America where you can find wild wolves in containment. One of which is in Ontario, and only a few hours from where I live. Haliburton Forest is a privately owned and operated forest, and they do a pretty good job at it. I was there several years ago to do some dog sledding, but alas that is no longer offered. They do still have their Wolf Centre, which is something I’ve wanted to see for many years now. Finally I got the chance.
The centre has on site six wolves but they don’t always come to the viewing area to satisfy the curiosity of us nosy humans. The most fortunate of visitors might see one or two wolves during their visit. I was very fortunate to have five of the six come hang out near the viewing area, for a very long time too.
Just like the one-way mirrors found in a police suspect identification room, the visitors can see the wolves, but they can’t see us. They can however hear us talking, and apparently even smell us through the glass (or perhaps through the seams in the window frame). Its obvious though…they know something is on the other side of the mirror. That’s what they see…a mirror.
One of the young ladies who guided us around has been working there for many years and every time there was a change in the pitch of her voice, or when she laughed, one of the wolves cocked his head toward the glass. He knew her voice well apparently. It’s just one of the things that I noticed about how inquisitive these animals are. I knew that already, but it was neat to actually observe it in person.
Now obviously the wolves are the main feature that everyone wants to see, but the education centre has a lot of information to offer, with displays showing various stuffed wildlife, skulls, history of the area, etc.
Wolves have been nearly extinct in central and southern Ontario for a long time but there are a few packs in the wild that recently made a come back. That happening naturally has always been difficult because wolves have a really low success rate when it comes to hunting. They only have a 10% kill rate. As a comparison, wild Lions in Africa have a 25% kill rate. As said earlier, these animals are very elusive, and they’ve been hunted extensively, so finding them isn’t easy. Farmers have always considered them a nuisance predator because they loved attacking chicken coups, and cattle.
Actually wolves have been completely eradicated in the UK, largely due to the help of a dog that’s aptly named the Irish Wolf Hound. It’s literally what they were breed for…hunting wolves.
They have always been, and still are, very misunderstood animals, and feared. But to learn more about these animals, I would encourage you to visit the Wolf Centre, and talk to the staff. They even occasionally arrange to do a wolf howl. Now, our guides attempted to get the wolves howl while we finished our hike through the woods but they didn’t reply. However, after we returned to the centre, one of them started howling, and I was lucky enough to not only hear it, but also see it right in front of me just 10m (about 30ft) away.