Monday, November 21, 2011

Wolves in the Neighborhood

Ah-roooooooooh, ah-roooooooooh! Ooooooooooooo . . .

There is no translating the sound into human language or writing. We share the same vocal range, but only Canis lupus comprehends the message in the undulating vowels, the drawn out, sweeping, or staccato rhythms, the rising and falling tones. The sound is riveting, joyous, sad, mysterious. It is the voice of wildness. Ever since I read Little House on the Prairie, Julie of the Wolves, and The Call of the Wild, I have longed to hear a wolf howl. On occasion I have heard my own tail wagging creature, who shares 98% of her genetic material with wolves, croon her own eerie little song, but it’s not the same.

Yesterday I heard wolves.

One of the things that I like best about cities is that they are fun and exciting to visit, but you can leave them quickly behind. Head north less than an hour from the Big Apple and you will find The Wolf Conservation Center. Yes, you are still in the suburbs, but here in 27 acres of hilltop forest, you can meet wolves that are part of a program which is working to bring Mexican red and gray wolves back from the brink of extinction, and which is educating people about the true nature of wolves. They won’t eat your grandma, but they will eat the slow, the weak, and the sick ungulates and help bring ecosystems back into balance.

Here in western New York, I can’t plant so much as a white pine tree without putting a cage around it to protect it from the ravenous, swollen deer herd. I love deer—precious dappled fawns, big eyed does, and heart stopping bucks silhouetted against misty pines—I love deer in healthy numbers, and deer on my dinner plate. Maybe we need a few more wolves back in their rightful place in the world.

It was an unforgettable day. I met “ambassador” wolves who are socialized to humans. The two yearlings Alawa and Zephyr, played in their enclosure, leaping, delighted and begging for treats and attention. The autumn sunlight glistened on their fur. Each wolfed down, in a couple of minutes, a chicken carcass that I might have stuffed for Sunday dinner, tenderizing it first in their powerful jaws. The elder wolf, Atka, visited aimiably, then lay down and posed as if he were expecting Ernest Thompson Seton to set up an easel nearby and paint his portrait. I glimpsed two rare Mexican grays in their wooded enclosure. If you “hack’ a captive born wolf pup into a wild wolf mom’s nest of pups, she will adopt it 100 percent of the time.

I’m sorry my computer wan’t read my photos today, but you can log onto the WCC website. The Wolf Conservation Center needs our help to win a $25,000. grant from the Chase giving Program. You can help if you are on Facebook by going to and clicking on the link on the left.


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