There is an interesting hike coming up at the Alfred Hole Goose Sanctuary, just east of Rennie.
Coming up on Saturday, November 25th and again on Saturday, December 9th, the public can participate in the Wolf Howl Hikes.
“We've been doing this program for a number of years,” says Adam Collicut, senior interpreter for Manitoba Parks. “We did them typically weekly in the summer because they are a very popular program.”
Hikers will meet at the trailhead in the parking lot and then trek along the 2.5 kilometer self-guiding trail at the Alfred Hole Goose Sanctuary.
“And along the way, we stop periodically and actually howl for wolves,” he says. “There is a good wolf population in the park and after we train people how to howl themselves, I'm not carrying an amplifier around with me, we actually stop on the trail, and we'll howl for them to see if we can get a response from them.”
There is a healthy wolf population in the area so there is a good chance the wolves will be heard.
“For the Whiteshell, we figure there's... depending on who you talk to, probably about 100 to 150 wolves spread over, we think, probably six to eight family groups of wolves within the Whiteshell,” Collicut notes.
The Whiteshell stretches over 2,700 square kilometers and the park interpreter says that's a good number of wolves for the area.
“I believe the estimate for Manitoba is, I think it's between 4,000 and 6,000 wolves for our entire province.”
Wolf sightings can vary throughout the year and Collicut notes these nocturnal animals are quite active in winter, especially during January and February. He adds that we are more likely to hear them instead of seeing them.
“Wolves do not like people. They're terrified of us, like most wild animals are,” Collicut explains. “And they'll avoid us at any cost. They've even been known to abandon fresh deer kills at the slightest sense that humans are in the area. But you can see evidence of them, like their scat or footprints along trails or in area.”
Collicut says wolves are neophobic, just like many people.
“It's a fear of new things. And we figure this is a thing that a lot of wild animals have. Basically, if it's not something that they were taught or learned from their parents, it's new. And if it's new, it's scary. So that's where people fit in with lots of wild animals. So, wolves are not the exclusive owner of that term. Most, if not all, wild animals do share a bit of that.”
He will often tell people that wolves need to be respected, but not feared.
“In movies and television, wolves are very often cast as the bad guy or the villain. You know, werewolves. But humans really don't have anything to fear from wolves. In the last century and a little bit in Manitoba, there have been 0 cases where a wolf has attacked and killed a human and even throughout North America in the last 60 or 70 years. I think there's only a handful of cases, and by handful I literally mean two or three where a wolf has attacked and killed a person and in both of those cases, they were cases where the wolves were likely habituated. They had gotten used to people being around, either by being fed or things being left out as attractants after people have left, which is not good, something we don't want people to do.”
Collicut adds, “you are more likely to get killed by a vending machine than a wolf.”
While howling for wolves, hikers will also learn about a lot of other things that make wolves a very unique critter.
If you are interested in howling for wolves while hiking in the Whiteshell, register for the preferred date by going to their website.
"For the November and December hikes, registration is required. You can access it either from manitobaparks.com or if you follow MB Gov parks on social media, the links to register are both on those sites. The November hike is just about full, but there is still lots of room on the December hike.”
Both hikes take place in the evening so be sure to bring a flashlight, water and dress appropriately. Interpretive events are free for everyone to attend. An adult must accompany children under 12. If you require accessibility accommodations, let them know in advance. For more information, call 204-369-3157 or email ParkInterpretation@gov.mb.ca.
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