|Logan and Haida, photographed on Boxing Day by|
guests from Bondi Village who had enjoyed a day out
and gone dog-sledding at the Reserve as well.
This is a sad post. I could weep. But I am also angry. I am angry that people do such stupid things, that people don't understand (or bother to) the wild creatures that share this space. I am angry that beautiful, noble, wonderful things are so easily destroyed.
I am furious about the needless destruction of wolves. Specifically, wolves from the Wolf Centre at the Haliburton Forest and Nature Reserve. Since 1996 this Centre has done a magnficient job of educating the public, and offering a rare chance to see wolves that are not socialized, not zoo wolves, but wolves in a large open habitat. They have gone to great lengths to ensure that wolves and people can co-habit, with a pack of wolves in a 15 acre enclosure and an Observatory that features one-way glass and sound-proofing, so wolves can be watched without wolves being disturbed. They offer programs, art shows, museum exhibits, videos and more on wolves. The Centre is considered a world leader in education and wolf research.
Wolves who, we will point out, tend to get the short end of the stick when they bump into people.
|Haida, the alpha male|
The Haliburton Wolves have their origins in Michigan. These are Eastern Timber wolves, not the Algonquin Timbers that we see here, but their slightly heftier cousins. They are magnificent. We have been happy to send generations of our guests to the Haliburton Reserve to enjoy a day out and a visit to the Wolf Centre, and they have never once returned with anything but praise.
You have to praise the Reserve - when it comes to working WITH the environment, they get it right. We salute them.
So we were saddened, upset, disgusted when on New Year's Eve, after the Reserve had closed, some idiots (and we use the term with intent) cut the double fences that contain the Wolf Centre and several of the wolves escaped. No-one has had the guts to admit they did this. If they thought they were doing the wolves a favour, letting them "run free" they are double idiots. These wolves have been at the Reserve for many generations -- they are not socialized to humans, but they do not have the pack skills to hunt in the wild, either. It is not a simple thing, in winter, (or any season) to bring down a deer, or a moose... or even to catch a beaver out on the ice. Nature is hard, and uncompromising, and unkind to those on a learning curve.
If these idiots (criminal idiots) subscribe to some Animal Rights creed that tells them wolves have the 'right' to run free, they should know that it also included their 'right' to be shot and killed, to be shot and spend 9 days of agony in the wild without food and two shattered legs, their 'right' to the sudden and complete disruption of the pack hierarchy. Do wolves have rights? I believe they do -- they have the right to the best life possible -- and as do all animals that are in human custody (be it cats, dogs, canaries) they have the right to the best of care, the best possible life that can be provided. These wolves have the right to a peaceful existence: they have always been in the care of the Centre, they were not snatched from a wilderness pack, they have the right to continue to be safe and unafraid. Nobody has the 'right' to destroy their world.
Four wolves escaped. Including the alpha male and female -- who would quite rightly be the ones leading an investigation into something like a hole in the fence.
Almost immediately, it was found that one of the wolves had been shot, killed, dragged into a truck. The Reserve believes this to be Haida, the magnficently beautiful alpha male of the pack. Right up front let's say that the Centre believes that the release of the wolves and the shooting of the wolves are two completely separate incidents, with completely different people behind them.
Now, yes, wolves get shot when they are not on protected land, and often even when they are, by mis-guided individuals. We don't 'get it' -- and we certainly don't 'get it' when the wolves would have been very adjacent to the Reserve and everyone in the area must have known there were wolves at Haliburton Forest and Reserve... You would have to live under a rock not to recognize that this is one of the best attractions and assets in the Province. One would have liked to think that the reaction would have been to call the Reserve and report that there was a large black wolf on the road... One would, sadly, be very wrong.
|Granite, with Peter and the Veterinarian, when she was |
found a few days ago, after spending 9 days in the
wild with bullet wounds to two legs.
The other two wolves are still out there -- while they are circling close to the Centre, howling back and forth to the rest of the Pack, the Staff have not been successful in luring them into live-traps, or back into the space between the two fences. Attempts to isolate the remaining wolves into a smaller containment area have also been foiled by the wolves themselves, who won't tolerate the approach of people, and who are much faster in the forest than any of us. The pack has lost its leaders -- that alone would cause huge turmoil and upset in the wolves.
The Staff are still continuing in attempts to isolate the remaining wolves in the hope that they can then open up the main gates and entice Logan and Lonestar to come home. And come home we hope they do. It has been two weeks. They are going to be hungry, they are going to be at risk from cars, from life in the wild as they do not know it, and from idiots who think it acceptable to shoot them. As they get hungrier, they are more than likely going to approach 'food sources' which could well include houses. Wolf/people confrontations may become more likely, and when those happen, historically, the wolf doesn't come out on the winning side.
So here is a little prayer for the Staff at the Haliburton Wolf Centre, that they are able to succeed in recapturing these wolves, that these two wanderers will be safe, and survive and find their way to safe harbour, that the remaining pack members will be able to cope with the sudden loss of both the alpha pack leaders.
We have very little expectation that those criminals who perpetrated this will be found, let alone punished. Sometimes you just cannot fix stupid.