Hearing Wolves in the Wild
The Superior National Forest and the Chippewa National Forest are at the heart of the most populated wolf range in the continental United States. Estimates place the number of wolves in the lake-strewn forests of northern Minnesota as of late 1999 at around 2,500 and climbing. Further north, the Pine Island State Forest and the Beltrami Island State Forest offer virtually roadless wildlands where wolves roam, while the the Aggasiz National Wildlife Refuge on Mud Lake is home to two packs that prey on the moose and white-tailed deer who feed on the area's lush wetland flora.
If you're not up for a full-blown adventure, take a trip to the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota. Lucky visitors get to hear the captive wolves there wail in chorus when a fire-engine siren sounds in the distance. More adventurous folks can accompany an International Wolf Center guide into the deep north woods and howl at the moon in hopes of getting a wild pack to reply.
In wilder days, red wolves roamed throughout the forests of the eastern United States. Sadly, the past 200 years of human development in the region has destroyed most of the red wolf's habitat. By 1980 none remained in the wild. The species was kept genetically pure in captivity, however, and in 1987 red wolves were released at eastern North Carolina's Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. These isolated wetlands were an ideal proving ground to see whether the red wolf could stand on its own four feet again: no humans, no livestock, and no coyotes to interbreed with and dilute the species. A similar program in Great Smoky Mountain National Park was not successful, but the Alligator River population seems to have achieved a delicately balanced self-sufficiency.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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