A new attraction will be featured on our Calgary Stampede tour this year. We will be visiting the Northern Lights Wolf Centre. If you are like me, your knowledge about wolves came from books or movies and did not give a very true picture of what these magnificent creatures all about. The first story I remember reading about wolves was Little Red Riding Hood and one of my favourite movies with Kevin Costner was “Dances with Wolves” in which Costner as Lieutenant Dunbar and a lone wolf form a bond. There are many more books and articles written about wolves and they are one of the world’s most written about wildlife species because of their long history with humans and livestock.
The gray wolf (or grey wolf) also known as the western or timber wolf and is native to North America. This is the species you will meet at the Northern Lights Wolf Centre. Wolves are gregarious mammals that live in packs or family units. The unit is usually made up of 2 adult males, 2 to 4 juveniles and 1–3 yearlings. The gray wolf is generally monogamous, with mated pairs usually remaining together for life. Upon the death of one mated wolf, the survivor will quickly find a new mate.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the Northern Lights Wolf Centre and found the staff to be well informed and passionate about their four legged residents. The Centre, started in 2002, is a privately owned facility and is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of wolves in our environment. Upon your arrival, a member of the staff will spend time telling you about wolves and speak specifically about each of the wolves they house at the Centre. The wolves live in large enclosures but are easily visible. I found it very interesting to learn about how they feed the wolves, the quantity they eat and the role they play in maintaining wildness areas. Did you know that Canadian Wolves played and are continuing to play an important role in reestablishing an environmental balance in Yellowstone National Park? http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/wolves-greenthumbs-yellowstone/
The Northern Lights Wolf Centre is home to 7 wolves and 1 wolf/dog. There are clean outhouse style washrooms on site and a small gift shop. For groups, the staff at the Centre will provide an opportunity to hear the wolves howl.
I hope you will find your visit to this unique site informative and leave with a new understanding about the role these beautiful creatures play in our environment.
Written by: Joan Niemeier