Calling from the wild
This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of taking a tour of the Lakota Wolf Preserve
in Columbia, NJ. Twenty-six wolves of three different subspecies currently make their home on this preserve, which is located on land rented from Camp Taylor. The preserve allows wolves who’ve been born and raised in captivity to live out their lives in a natural setting. The preserve also cares for foxes and bobcats, who also because of being born in captivity and with a familiarity to humans cannot be released into the wild.
To see wolves this closely and in such a natural setting (they live in four separate wooded enclosures) is truly breathtaking. To witness and learn about the close bond they share with one another and their intense love, acceptance and desire to care for pups – their own and any others – challenges your own sense of family values. To hear them howl together – well let’s just say is other worldly.
At one point, when we were learning about the foxes, one of the male wolves, King, let out a howl. The guide paused to see if anyone would respond. No one did. She began speaking again, and soon King let out another howl. This time, one after another, all the wolves from all the packs began to join in, each with their own voice calling back and forth to one another. We could only see one wolf at that point, so all of the other voices rose hauntingly from the woods beyond. Then with a mystical sense of union, they all seemed to stop at once. Awesome.
Being in the presence of these wolves if only for a couple of hours humbled me. It seems as if the wolves possess an intimacy and understanding of Life far beyond what humans do. Yet, they feel so connected to us – after all the theory goes that the first dogs were actually wolves who decided that humans offered an easy food source. Wolves in the wild, however, fear humans and will avoid contact with them at all costs.
The demonization of wolves by humans is truly tragic, since no known attack of humans by wolves exists on record. The current move to take the Northern Rockies gray wolves off the endangered species list and resume hunting them sadly carries on this unfounded and irrational fear and others. In Alaska, Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for Vice President, supports the cruel practice of aerial hunting of wolves. You can learn more about the threats to wolves and the efforts to protect them in the wild from the Defenders of Wildlife
When will humans stop fearing the natural world, the wildness from which they came, and begin to embrace it vs. control and destroy it? There’s so much to learn, if we would only stop, as our guide did, and listen to the voices calling from the wilderness.