The Amazing Wolves of Haliburton Forest

When visiting Ontario, a must stop destination is the Haliburton Forest Nature Reserve. Located just 3 hours north of Toronto, this incredible nature setting is a place to see all year round. Summers can be spent hiking and camping. Or stay at one of their eco-friendly lodges and take a canopy tour. Try your hand at winter camping in the colder months or snowmobiling on its many trails. This alone is enough of a reason to visit, but it is its inhabitants that make it worth the trip alone.Here you will see a pack of protected wolves that live on 15 acres of land within the 70,000 acre reserve. Surprisingly there are two to three wild packs of wolves in Haliburton Forest along with a lone wolf or two, but you probably won’t be able to catch a glimpse of these wolves. Instead observe the pack at the centre from the safety of the observation deck. From behind a glass enclosure, you can watch the wolves go on with their day without disrupting their lives. These wolves came to be at the sanctuary as descendants of a captive pack dating back to 1977.The wolves came from photographer Jim Wuepper. He bought and raised two wolf cubs which eventually grew into a small pack. Not being able to take care of them any longer, the pack was transferred to Haliburton Forest in 1992, where their descendants have lived on in a natural environment.Even during the cold Canadian Winters the sanctuary is alive and well. It is a magical experience to see the wolves play and roll in the snow with their thick winter coats keeping them warm. In the summer, you have a good chance of catching them napping in the sunlight on a hill in front of the viewing platform. The building is located at a place on the reserve that achieves optimal sunlight. The wolves are drawn to here and while seeing them is not guaranteed, there is a good chance since this is their favorite spot. The wolves won’t see you but you will be able to hear them through speakers and they can probably sense your presence.Every few days the wolves are fed and you can watch this from the platform as well. See the staff bring out beaver or deer for the wolves to feast upon. The animals are road kill or brought in by local hunters and never fear, they are not fed live animals. However, the wolves tear them apart as if they were fresh kill.The wolf centre works as an education centre as well, and you can learn a great deal about the workings of a wolf pack just by observing. The Alpha male is the largest and strongest wolf in the pack. Its coat is healthy and shiny and along with the Alpha female they are in charge. The Alpha eats first followed by the Alpha female and the Beta Male. The Beta male is the second strongest male wolf and it is tight with both the Alpha Male and female. The rest of the wolves fill out the clan to the bottom of the pack; the Omega. This poor wolf is the weakest and suffers the most. It is the last to eat, it is picked on by the other wolves and it is left to itself living a lonely sad life.The wolves are left to live their lives without human interference, so the centre does not intervene to save the omega wolf. Eventually the wolf will be too weak to continue and may go off by itself to die. The cycle of the pack changes over time and soon a male will challenge the Alpha male taking over the lead position. The same thing will happen with the Alpha female and soon an unlucky weak wolf will take over the position of Omega.Visiting the wolf centre in Haliburton is an important step in helping people to understand the wolf. For centuries the human race has feared the wolf and unapologetically hunted it almost to extinction. Wolves are not the evil creature that we have been led to believe. They are more afraid of humans and are more likely to flee than attack and there has actually never been a confirmed report of a healthy wolf attacking a human. The only cases of wolf attacks have come from either rabid wolves or a wolf/dog mixed race. Truthfully there have been more dog attacks than wolf attacks.You can visit Haliburton forest for the day for $15 or you can simply visit the wolf sanctuary for $9.00 to see the wolves. It is recommended to spend a day or two nearby rather than trying to do the trip all in one day. There is plenty of accommodation from camping to luxury resorts. Spend a few days and enjoy the beautiful wilderness spotting wildlife from Moose to otters and porcupines to loons. You won’t be disappointed taking in everything that nature has to offer and enjoying the natural beauty of Central Ontario.

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