Brilliant fall colours, with mist on the lake. An historic…
I thought the wolves might howl at the moon on the eve of the solar eclipse. Or when the moon passed in front of the sun the next day.
While most people were preparing to watch the eclipse, I was hanging with the timber wolves at Parc Oméga in Quebec, a 2200-acre park that celebrates nature in Canada. It’s a unique place where animals native to Canada’s climate have space to roam in their natural environments. I stayed overnight in the park near the wolf enclosure the night before the eclipse and for much of the next day (more on that to come).
However, the wolves were quiet.
It’s a myth that wolves howl at the moon.
I wasn’t disappointed though. There’s no other place in the world where you can get this close to watch these beautiful animals in their natural habitat.
Getting to know the wolf pack
As the sun set in the evening, a park staff member introduced overnight guests to the wolf pack. He tossed a few meaty treats to draw the wolves out.
Of course, the alpha male eats first, the staff member explained. Wolves live in a hierarchical pack, where rank and rules of conduct are defined based on who has the most attitude. There may be some fights, but it’s mostly a psychological game. Kind of like an office environment.
The alpha male and female are dominant and they’re the only wolves in the pack to breed and produce pups.
So, if wolves don’t howl at the moon, what’s it all about?
There are several reasons. Sometimes, it’s just a good, old-fashioned singalong. But, since wolves roam over some distance, it’s also a way of communicating within the pack. It’s the wolf equivalent of texting. It’s also used to warn the pack of danger, or for other wolves to stay out of their territory. Or they may stay quiet to avoid giving any information to their enemies. Since wolves are nocturnal, they tend to howl more at night, and they appear to point their faces to the moon and the stars to project their voices. That’s why we buy in to the myth.
Adorable wolf pups
One of the advantages of visiting the park in the summer is that you’ll see the baby animals frolic.
Wolf pups are born in the spring, with average litter sizes of four pups. The pups begin to wander outside the den after a couple of weeks, and start traveling with the pack at when they’re two or three months old.
The pups were active during the evening, chasing bugs and rough-housing with each other and then crashing for a quick snooze before getting back at it.
New Viewing Platform
Parc Oméga has just opened a new viewing platform that provides an incredible glimpse into the fascinating lives of wolves in the wild.
Its unique construction maintains safety, but provides views so close that you could see the gleam of his teeth when a wolf smiles.
Sure, it happens just before he howls at the moon.
Thank you to the Parc Oméga for hosting my visit. My opinions are, as always, my own.
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