The worldwide Augustana College experience

Spending an unexpected and magical evening with wolves

Aug. 7

Wolves may feature in our myths, our history, and our dreams, but they have their own future, their own loves, their own dreams to fulfill.
— Anthony Miles, song writer

We have been reading about wolves this summer. From Jack London’s “Call of the Wild” to Farley Nowat’s “Never Cry Wolf,” the literature of the North shows a fascination with wolves. According to London, a wolf is an animal to be feared. According to Nowat, it is an animal to be respected.
Jane and I have also been fascinated with wolves since the time we lived in Montana, nearly 20 years ago. During that time, wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park. The reintroduction of wolves was hugely controversial in Montana. Ranchers feared that wolves would prey on their livestock, but environmentalists were delighted.
After the reintroduction, Jane and I visited Yellowstone nearly 20 times hoping to see wolves, but to no avail. Finally, about three years ago, we saw a wolf in Yellowstone – a tiny dot far way, but visible through a high powered spotting scope. I will never forget the thrill of seeing my first wolf in the wild!
A few days ago, Jane and I visited Fish Creek, just outside of Canada near Hyder, Alaska. We were watching Chum salmon, nearly 24 inches long, spawning in the gravel bed. We were delighted (and surprised) to see a pair of wolves coming out of the trees to fish for salmon. After several tries, the male wolf snagged a salmon and shared it on the shore with his mate. He was unsuccessful in his attempts to catch a second fish.
It was a thrilling evening – we had thought we might see bears fishing, but never imagined we would see wolves. In observing the pair of wolves near Fish Creek, I observed an animal that shares some of our human qualities. The male wolf was determined and patient. But when he could not catch a second fish, he was tender in the way he shared his one salmon with his mate.
What a privilege it is to share an evening with one of the most majestic animals of the North!
(See also Jane Bahls’ Arctic Adventures blog).

Leave a Reply