Every now and then I like to organize a MMT – A Magical Mystery Tour with my husband and sometimes with friends too. Last week I surprised Peter and our two friends, Rosemarie and Murray with an early morning adventure outside of the City. We left a 8:00AM, with my husband repeating dire warnings about rush hour traffic. I told him we were headed across the George Washington Bridge and that’s when they knew we were leaving the island ( you know New Yorker’s).
There was lots of guessing along the way and as the signs for the Delaware Water Gap grew more frequent, everyone was really wondering just how far were we going? It took us about an hour and a half and we were in Columbia, NJ. Our directions took us up a steep hill and into some very rural woodsy area – we arrived at the Lakata Wolf Preserve.
We were fortunate that the day was chilly and was drizzling on and off because there were only 8 of us scheduled for the morning tour and that made it like our very own private experience. We were shuttled up into the huge preserve area where 4 packs of wolves reside, each in their own 10 acre compound.
Jim, who runs the preserve with his wife Becky, was our guide. He told us SO MANY interesting details about the wolves both in general as a species but also with anecdotes about many of his “kids”. The wolves there have all been raised in captivity and believe it or not, they come running as he calls out their names. Of course that fact that they know he has dog treats on him doesn’t hurt because wolves can scent for 2 miles! The wolves are beautiful; There are Timber Wolves, Arctic Wolves and British Colombian Black Wolves. Their luminous yellow eyes capture your attention as they study you while you’re admiring them. The Arctic Wolves have beautiful white coats (although better not to be seen my dear) and are the least social of the packs. They kept their distance for the most part only coming to the fence for a treat.
And they howl!! Peter and Murray attempted a wolf howl to see if any of the packs would respond but they weren’t fooled. Jim gave out one long howl and one by one each pack began to howl. That was AMAZING to hear! Wolves do not howl at the moon – they do point their noses up in the air so that their howl will travel further and louder. Howling is used for many different reasons and in different voices. If you were a wolf you’d know whether or not the howl was meant to signal you to come and join me or if it was meant to scare you off and make the pack sound like there were more of them than you thought or should attempt to take on!
Wolf packs are structured with an Alpha male and a Beta male and as with most animal species it is the most fit that survive. The alpha male always eats first and wolves will eat all they can at any time because they don’t know where their next meal is coming from; hence they are on the move all the time looking for game. These wolves are well-fed mostly with deer meat. Jim tosses in big chunks of frozen deer meat for each one of the wolves. By having it frozen when it lands in their den area, the alpha will take his and by the time he makes any headway into it, the others have had a chance to grab their portion and each retreats to their own corner to chow down.
I could go on and on about all the super facts and information I learned on this visit but I would rather you experience it yourself. The link to their website is http://www.lakotawolf.com/. There is also a store, which is as you would expect, exceptional. Artifacts and highly unusual items fill this place and it feels like you are in a movie set for a Trading Post. The women who run it are delightful.
Murray Head took all of the photos in this blog. He had a wonderful time doing so, only lamenting that the wire fence was messing up his shots!