Monday, January 12, 2009



Who isn't chillingly fascinated by the idea of wolves?

I grew up listening to Peter and the Wolf and loving the oboe even though it reminded me of the foolish duck. The Three Little Pigs caught less of my sympathy--either because they were pigs or because they were lazy. Certainly, as a little girl who loved her grandmother, Little Red Riding Hood upset me greatly and I learned to be honest and truthful from repeated tellings of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Through all of the stories, though, it seemed that the wolf only took advantage of people (or animals) who let down their guard and were foolish (the duck), lazy (the pigs), gullible (Red Riding Hood) or drama queens (The Boy), I was not any of those things so perhaps wolves were worth another look.

As I grew up, I discovered that the stereotype of wolves, as with most of the other fears from my childhood, did not exactly measure up to their reality, but it was many years before I actually saw one in the wild. In the summer of 2004, Archie, Molly and I went to Yellowstone and in the northeast corner of the park saw two wolves enjoying an elk carcass and drinking from a river. They ate, they lazed in the sun, they played--I could have watched them forever.

Wolves have been re-introduced to several locations in the United States over the past twenty years. They now roam in areas of Wyoming, Idaho, Minnesota and North Carolina. The closest area of wolf habitation to Northern New England is in Algonquin Park Ontario.

Currently, I am reading The Return of the Wolf: Reflections on the Future of Wolves in the Northeast. It is a very interesting collection of essays on the biological and cultural realities of re-introducing wolves into Northern New England and Northern New York State.

What do some of you think of wolves? I know that readers of this blog are from all of the states where wolves have been re-introduced as well as from the Ontario where they have thrived in Algonquin Park and I would be very interested to hear what sort of experiences and ancedotes you can relate from their presence in your area.


Ruth said...

I have never encountered a wolf although my husband has heard them when he is fishing in northern Ontario. One of the funniest, true books I have ever read is "Never Cry Wolf" By Farley Mowat. He lived among the wolves as part of a study. It was also made into a movie, but I liked the book better.

KGMom said...

I love wolves--and think they have gotten a bad rap (or had bad pr agents).
Years ago, I read the book Julies of the Wolves to my son--ever since then, I have just loved them.

Marianne said...

My interest in wolves piqued when I moved to Sonoma County and took to finding out about jack London after I hiked the trail by the ruins of his "Wolf House".

And wolves mate for life, right? I LOVE that. Actually, it's time for me to take a (better) look again at these remarkable animals.

beckie said...

Beth, how thrilling to have seen them in the wild. I have seen a documentary on the re-introduction of wolves into Yellowstone. It was fascinating. Wonder why it took them to long to realize you shouldn't mess with Mother nature.

Jayne said...

I've never seen one either, but think they are fascinating creatures. It makes me nuts to hear ranchers say they feel justified in killing them to protect livestock. Uh, I believe THEY were there first?

Anonymous said...

We saw one up close, when we were vacationing in South Dakota near Mount Rushmore a few years ago. We were eating our picnic lunch at a roadside park and he was walking on the bluff above us. He stopped briefly we he saw us and went on his way. Coyotes are more rampant in our area and pose a threat to livestock. When I worked at D/FW airport they had problems with them occasionally crossing the runways.

Randy M. - Algonquin Outfitters said...

Beth, I work for Algonquin Outfitters (, we organize canoe trips into Algonquin Park, and yes people do occasionally see wolves. Currently we are running a photo contest online featuring the Wildlife of Algonquin Park. There's a few wolf pictures that people have submitted.

We also support animal research in the park and a vast amount of wolf research is done in Algonquin Park.

Living in this area I've also had the rare pleasure of encountering wolves. We used to live on the west side of Algonquin Park and our property there was frequented by a wolf pack on a regular basis. Winter was great because you could see their foot prints. Unfortunately your more likely to hear a wolf than see one unless you spend a great amount of time in their territory.

Sharon said...

Hi from Montana, Beth!

I had to weigh in on this story -- being so close to the area where wolves have been reintroduced.

Here is the latest article about the battle between wildlife and ranching:

For those readers who think that the rancher is too quick to kill the wolves:
"Svenson had tried without success to keep his sheep safe by using lights, noise makers, herders, night patrols and guard dogs. Two of his guard dogs were attacked and injured by the wolf on New Year's "

The bottom line is wolves wander...Reed Point is 120 miles west of Yellowstone National Park, so they are currently in many rural areas within the state now.

Anyway, I hope the Northeastern US is cautious before reintroducing - there are a lot more people and cute house pets at risk in that area than Montana ;)

Nan said...

Beth, just a very quick note to say I made a mistake (which Tara corrected, thank goodness!) in the popover recipe. It's only 1/2 t. oil in each cup, NOT 2 t. I sure hope you haven't made them yet. :<) I left a comment on my blog in case you came back.

Mary said...

Hi Beth,

Remember me? :o)

Wolves get a bad rap in fairy tales and children's stories. I know I was intimidated. A few years ago I read "The Hidden Life of Dogs" by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas - an account of her 30 years observing wolves, dingos, and domestic dogs. Since I read that book, I've been intrigued by the wolf and similarities I see in my own spoiled Bostons.


Kathiesbirds said...

Beth, you are always reading the most interesting books! I did not know anyone was interested in reintroducing them to the area. My first wolf book was Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat. He certainly changed the way I viewed them.

troutbirder said...

A few small points. Wolves were not "reintroduced" in Minnesota. For a long period we were the only state in the lower forty-eight states to have wolves. They were and are "managed" with common sense. Protection, re-location, compensation to farmers for proven losses, killing when no other alternative works. The population was and remains healthy and viable.The people overall value wolves as an important part of our wilderness ethic.