Here it is again, another Thanksgiving. While I love the holiday, I don’t condone the behavior of its originators. Although a hardy and ambitious lot, the European settlers of North America brought with them a pattern of dominion and destruction that five hundred years later has left us with a country that treats its wildlife, natural resources and its native peoples as if they are invaluable and expendable, possessions that should at all times be under our control.
It’s easy to see all that is wrong in the world, all the damage done on a daily basis to humans, animals and the land. But today, I’m determined to look on the bright side and remind myself and others of the good that is transpiring in the wolf world. This is only a short list and I hope my readers will pitch in with more positives that they’ve noted this year.
The first thing I’m thankful for is that OR 7, or Journey, that wandering wolf from northeast Oregon who made worldwide news by dispersing over 2,500 miles and becoming the first wild wolf in California for nearly a hundred years, is still alive! Isn’t this a wonderful phenomena, and also a statement of the incredible resilience of wolves? He is alone, other than perhaps a few coyote friends, yet he manages to keep himself fed without preying on livestock. He’s been on the road for over a year now. I don’t check the California Dept. Fish and Wildlife website often these days because I worry about Journey less. He’s a savvy wolf, able to keep himself out of the public eye and so far out of trouble. Yet, I still wish he would come home to Oregon. He is our wolf after all.
For the first time in over 150 years a litter of wild wolves was born in Germany this spring. These pups live in Lower Saxony at a military training ground, appropriately northeast of Wolfsburg. There are estimated to be about a hundred wolves in the country at this time and they are strongly protected. A wolf was shot in western Germany this summer and a reward of 1,000 euros was offered for the capture of the culprit, who will forfeit their hunting license as well. I’m thankful to know that justice does exist.
A wolf book geared for youths, but one that will be loved by all ages, will be available soon. This book is called Running For Home, and I’m grateful to have had the privilege of being its editor. The story takes place in Yellowstone, and is about Chinook, a rambunctious young wolf and Wapiti, a courageous elk, as well as Mochni the raven and other characters. We follow these animals through their infancy, youth and adulthood, and we witness their trials as they struggle to survive. The illustrations are imaginative and inspiring.This book will be a great resource in educating kids and adults about wolves and their role in the environment. Watch the Running For Home Facebook page for updates.
Boise, the little lone wolf cub found by hikers in central Idaho, is alive and well in Busch Gardens of Virginia. While some maintain a captive life is no better than being dead, I disagree. The wolves I raised were so clearly happy so much of the time. And they were well cared for, receiving the best food, nice housing, and lots of long, meandering walks with me. While it would have been best if Boise had been reunited with his family, he is living a safe and rather trouble free life at Busch Gardens. And at the same time, he’s helping educate people that the myth of the Big Bad Wolf is truly only a myth.
I read today on Facebook that a judge in North Carolina has put a temporary halt on coyote hunting in five counties. This will be a huge step in protecting red wolves, who are easily mistaken for coyotes. This recent order comes on the heels of a ruling that allowed night hunting of coyotes with the use of spotlights. Since September, four red wolves have been killed by night hunters. There remain only a hundred of these beautiful canids in the wild. Let’s hope this new ruling stands. Their population can’t tolerate many more losses.
I can’t write of gratitude without acknowledging the multitude of people who devote their time, attention and resources to speaking up for wolves and other wildlife, as well as for the environment. You know who you are, you’re probably reading this post. Please take a minute to thank yourself for all that you do. It is no small thing to partake in a battle such as this.
I also want to thank those closest to me in my daily life, my three wonderful kids, Hannah, Megan and Dylan, my partner David and his sons Miles and Seve, as well as my beloved family in Iowa, Portland, Wisconsin, and places beyond. My friends are too many to name but I must mention Ann and John. This is my pack. They provide me with the love that makes my world go around. And they listen to me when I howl about my problems as well.
There is much to be grateful for in this life, including the fact that we still have landscapes where nothing can be seen but miles and miles of forests. And bodies of water that remain clean enough to swim in and drink from. I’m thankful that there are places on our planet that are wild enough to provide habitat for a diversity of animals and that I can travel to these places and with the help of kind friends and a spotting scope, see a wolf from a half mile away, trotting through its life, oblivious to the wonder I feel in its presence.
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you enjoy your holiday in whatever way suits you best.