We went on a field trip to Wolf Haven today. Mika requested the trip; she needed to observe, to research wolves for a book she wants to write for Nanowrimo in November. Seeing that they had some interesting group tours and class presentations, I decided to organize a group field trip for the first time. It ended up working out well.
Wolf Haven International is a nonprofit organization working to protect wild wolves, provide sanctuary for captive-born wolves, restoring wolves to historic ranges, and educating the public. Some of their wolves come from zoos, private owners, and other places not properly caring for these wild animals. They have many wolves; however, you can only see those that can handle the stress of human attention on the tours. Others who will be reintroduced to the wild, or who will be bred for repopulating wolf habitats, are kept far from human intrusion so they may safely return to the wild. The tour included a lot of information about what they do, how they do it, why they do it, and the history of the wolves on the tour.
This pair of grey wolves were the second pair on the tour. I don't remember the wolves names except one of these was Cricket. We learned that the wolves are always housed in male/female pairs to keep each other company.
This studly dark fellow was just a pup. At 18 months old, he was already quite large though. We got to see him howl, and I noticed he howled differently from the others. Rather than holding a single pitch like the others, he seemed to vocalize more with an undulating tone. I asked about it and was given an explanation of him being a pup and still learning social graces. His female is quite a bit older than he is, and we also got to see her putting him in his place. They had a nice long conversation.
Here's a short 13 second clip of him howling along with the other wolves. Twice the whole lot of them started howling around us. It was eerie!
These two were coyotes. I would have never known the difference. Shows you how much I know about canines! One of them was eyeing Josh like he was dinner.
After the tour, we had a class presentation. The presentation included showing us various skulls and talking about the features that helped us know more about the animals. We discussed teeth, nasal and eye openings, and size. Then we guessed what kind of animal they were. The skulls above, from left to right, are Kodiak grizzly bear (the thing was HUGE), black bear, mountain lion, bobcat, and wolf. After the skulls, we looked at and discussed a variety of antlers. We saw antlers from moose, elk, and deer. We also saw the horns of a muskox. Most of the items were available for closer inspection afterward.
After the class, we headed back to our cars by walking through some Mima Mounds. These mounds are an odd formation found in a few locations throughout the US, but are named after the Mima Prairie found here. They really look odd...small perfectly round hills scattered all over the area.