On Saturday I had a chance to go on a Curmudgeon outing to Wolf Hollow in Ipswich, MA. I had learned of this place a number of years ago and had put in on my mental “I need to go there sometime list” – but until Saturday had failed to execute. First, Saturday was a beautiful day – skies were blue and temperatures moderate in the 50s, perhaps nearing 60. The other travelers,
all but one, were familiar to me from earlier trips, and at the restaurant we met two other folks who I know well who joined us there for lunch and then our outing to Wolf Hollow.
We had a presentation in the “back yard” of the family home of the son of the man who started Wolf Hollow – I would guess on the order of 20 or more years ago. The large area is double fenced and had seven wolves – along with two human adults with whom they cuddled and played, and some young people in the “in between” of the double fencing tossing milk bone treats and otherwise giving the wolves human attention. The man who gave most of the presentation (an art teacher by the week) was good with the children and adults who were present; I’d guess there were about 40 of us.
We learned about the pecking order of wolves – the alpha male and female: in charge…period; the betas who are the enforcers; and the omegas who are assigned the chores in the pack. (Curiously when the man tried to draw similar lines to our human family the children were non-responsive about chores…seems they may have gone the way of the rotary phone.) Deer are meat eaters – but not human eaters (unless of course their young are threatened, and then like every other species, all bets are off). The fable Little Red Riding Hood, which first appeared around the 17th century has given wolves a bad rap. The lesson was supposed to be “beware of strangers” but ended up being “beware of wolves.” The wolves are fed large hunks of meet every several days – more in the winter due to the cold, and benefit from delivery by local law enforcement of deer strikes in the road which hold them for a longer period of time. In the winter their coats will protect them to 70 degrees below zero!
The other adult shared some insights about Native Americans and how they patterned their living after the wolf pack – in terms of caring for others in the “pack”, having leaders with various assignments, and making use of everything they hunted…no waste. The man who spoke looked from a distance as though he might be a Native American but up close we saw his clear
blue eyes and he admitted to being Portuguese! He has however, done a great deal of reading about Native Americans. The other man then spoke again, this time about the environment, protection, and wolves. Wolves were one of the first animals protected by the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s, and that helped them multiply. However in 2011 certain states took control of decision-making about protection (or not) of wolves back into their hands; these are western states. He told us about the natural environmental balance that is enhanced when wolves (and other species) are not hunted – they kill for prey only weak animals, thereby making the preyed species stronger; in the case of deer, wolves kept the deer population down, no longer true which leaves us with the problem of large deer population and the deer ticks that come with it.
Wolves have yellow eyes – not sure if there is any particular reason for this, and they do howl, although not particularly at the moon! When there is a full moon there’s more light …more activity …more howling. At the end of the presentation we were invited to howl to see if anyone would howl back –the alpha male howled at us!
If you live anywhere in the greater MA area I would highly recommend an outing to Wolf Hollow – very reasonable and an excellent learning opportunity. www.wolfhollowipswich.org