the view from Hayseed…#2
My aunt, who has a 100 acre property just to the west of our farm (about 2 km through the woods as the crow flies), spotted a lone wolf walking through her property the other morning – which has people curious as to why it has wandered out of the park (Algonquin) – with the most likely reasons being, that it’s either been expelled from the pack for some reason of inferiority, or, that it’s a young male setting out to establish his own new territory.
There may, or may not be, a young female around as well.
If the young male has been expelled from the pack – then he is on his own. If he is a young Alpha-in-the-making who broke away to start a new pack, then there is likely a young Alpha female who has joined him as well. He’s her boy. She’s his girl. They will be mates for life.
There is also a good chance that he simply got separated from his pack (a bear or elk hunter – both currently in season – may have frightened him off). Who knows?
But it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion what will happen to it if he stays around these parts. If he’s smart enough to stick to the woods then no one will have a real issue with him. But if he tries to poach someone’s dog (most dogs here stay outside at night), or grab a chicken or two, or constantly get into people’s garbage, then he’ll be shot.
As you might imagine, some people (both men and women) want him killed as soon as they heard about him – and the-sooner-the-better. “Before there’s any trouble.”
“What about the children?” “What about hikers?”
(As if our lives were filled with wolf horror stories.)
Whenever these types of problems come up – a bear or a lynx spotted, wandering elk, a rutting moose – my mother has always taken a cautious wait-and-see attitude.
If the wolf doesn’t cause a problem, then live, and let live. Just be smart when you go out into the woods.
Her attitude is based on experience and a good dose of common sense.
The dozen times her or I have seen a bear in the wild – the bear has immediately bolted off in the opposite direction just as fast as we wanted to. (Never run from a bear!)
I’ve only ever seen a wolf (twice) when it happened to be crossing the road while I was driving somewhere on an old country road.
Moose, who are mostly harmless, are only an issue during the rut. Then the males – high on estrogen pheromones – can smash a car to smithereens. But when we mention to people that we spotted a big male the other morning driving to my father-in-law’s at dawn, everyone smiles and says “That’s nice. Did you stop and get a picture?”
It’s a weird dance many people do up here when it comes to nature. No one can imagine living in the city – it’s simply too crowded, too busy, too polluted – but most country folk aren’t really that much more connected to nature than their city counterparts. It’s mostly just a lot of space to drive through getting from Point A to Point B.
Living here, for most people, is about a bit more yard space and infinitely better air to breathe.
Nature is nice – for hunting in, or hiking through. But because there is so much of it – it can be extremely boring to drive through. As far as believing in some symbiotic rural relationship with our fellow mammals and birds and insects – that’s pretty much a Disney fantasy.
The flock of about 300 Canadian geese I saw flying south the other day in perfect arrow-head V formation at 2,000 feet was a wonder of beauty and awe. But when a flock landed on my other aunt’s lakeside property to rest for a week and then shat all over everything, then my uncle got out the shotgun and sent them on their way.
Cottagers love watching a bear forage at the dump. But they’ll get hysterical if they see one sniffing at their open bar-b-que they left out on the back deck the night before.
And as for insects: a huge battle erupted a couple of years ago when the local cottage association wanted the lake to be regularly smoked with chemicals to get rid of the mosquitoes. Locals refused to go along with the idea – knowing full well that the humble mosquito, despite its huge annoyance – is the main food of many species of birds.
As for me? I’d love to see the wolf crossing through one of our back fields (as long as he doesn’t take out one of the fawns I’ve also seen back there. That would make me sad.) He poses no threat to the horses, and we already keep the dog in at night (because he barks and chases everything that moves in the dark – including porcupines and skunks).
I say live, and let live, for as long as he can hang in there.
Nature is not a Disney special. The wolf remains one of the most misunderstood animals in nature. Even up here in the middle of the woods. This wolf is ultimately doomed either way.
Should he just be a lone wolf his chances of survival outside the support of a pack are slim.
Should he be a successful pack builder, hunters will eventually be hired, and the pack will ultimately be executed.
Nature is indifferent – and thus ultimately appears to us to be very cruel.
In the meantime, if I get to hear him in the night, or see him somewhere cross my path, I will feel blessed; and I will tell my friends, “I saw a wolf today”.