Hearing Wolves in the Wild

Where to Go to Howl with the Pack
  |  Gorp.com
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Grey Wolf Howling
Grey wolf raises the cry.

Hearing wolves in the wild is not as easy as it once was. Wolves in North America have been eliminated from 95 percent of their original habitat, mostly owing to human encroachment. Until the 1930s, the US government actively organized wolf extermination campaigns and offered bounties to hunters who killed wolves. The haunting cry of a wild wolf pack howling in the night was once ubiquitous on every continent. To hear it today, you'll need to brave some of the world's most rugged wildernesses.

Contrary to popular myth, wolves are not generally dangerous to humans. They are territorial creatures, and if the pack perceives a human presence as a predatory attack, they may try to defend their turf. Human extermination efforts against wolves throughout history, however, have taught the species that fighting people is almost always a losing battle. Wolves will make every effort to avoid contact with humans, which makes getting close enough to hear them an exercise in outdoor perseverance.

The world's major wolf habitats today are in Canada and the former Soviet Union, though lax enforcement of conservation regulations in the latter region means that wolves and their environs continue to face serious threats from developers and poachers. The United States is becoming an increasingly hospitable place for wolves to live, with reintroduction efforts in areas like Yellowstone and North Carolina reporting tentative successes.

The places wolves live in the wild are invariably remote and often very cold. To find them, you'll need to be prepared for harsh conditions, and you'll need to know where to look. In the following pages you will find a few likely spots to get you within earshot of this elusive animal.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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