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Alyssa and the Not So “Big Bad Wolf”

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“Once upon a time….”   That’s how so many fable and fairy tales start.  And when wolves are in the stories they are most always depicted as the bad guy.  The creature that eats children and their grandmothers, and a bundle of stories similar in nature.

Over the years this is the reputation man has given to wolves.  Now with wolves back into Yellowstone where we can observe and study them, it is clear how social they are, and they actually do everything they can to steer clear of humans.  We have come a long ways since Red Riding Hood, The Three Pigs, and the Wolfman to better understand wolves and their behavior.

During Wolf Awareness Week 2011, I visited with Mission Wolf at the Harwich Conservation Trust  in Harwich, MA.  Kent Weber and Tracy Brooks dispel the myths and talk in depth about wolf behavior.  Not only do they talk about it but they brought three wolves for the audience to see.  Like Kent says, “You can talk to people, show people slides and videos, but the one thing they come away with, the one thing that changes how they feel about wolves, is when they look into their eyes in person.”  Mission Wolf is located in Colorado, and twice a year they take to the road and travel the country to better educate folks about wolves.  Education is a key to wolf recovery, and wolf sustainability.

Kent said that they have visited with over one million people since their very first Ambassador Wolf trip.  The presentations this past weekend at the Harwich Conservation Trust is a return visit from just a year ago.  Harwich Conservation Trust, which is a tremendous organization promoting and preserving open lands, has been a big supporter of Mission Wolf.  I talked with Director Mike Lach and asked him , “Why wolves.”  Mike said that they want to educate people about wolves and having them here is a great educational tool to do  just that.  From the size of the crowds that poured into the auditorium it was evident people wanted to see wolves, and with Mission Wolf they were able to see them , learn about them, and hopefully walk away with a much better understanding of what wolves are really all about.

Harwich Trust brings in many programs, and invited me back for the next one on owls from around the world.  Being my first visit to the Trust I am sure I will be back many more times in the future.  Mike Lach does a great job bringing the much needed education of wildlife and habitat to the public, and serving a much needed and active role in the community of Harwich, and elsewhere.

Alyssa Grayson, our Junior Advocate at Wolfwatcher  was also here for the event and got to see a wolf up close and personal.  Zeab was walking around the room and when he saw Alyssa with her hand extended as if greeting a friend, Zeab, a 110 lb, 18 month old Gray wolf, black in color, walked right over to her and greeted her in the way a wolf does by smelling her teeth and looking into her eyes.  Alyssa and Zeab bonded at that very moment.  This story doesn’t involve a wolf eating a child.  It is about understanding wolf behavior.  Today both Alyssa and Zeab walked away with something special.  Alyssa will certainly never forget her meeting with Zeab.   Being an ambassador wolf Zeab wil walk away thinking all humans may be as kind and forgiving as Alyssa.  That is sadly not the way it is in the wild and we need to do everything we can to educate the many people that hate wolves and want them all dead mainly because they don’t understand or realize their importance to the other animals, and the environment.  Kent could not emphasize enough what the wolf does for the ecosystem, and described in detail what wolves help create, and now described as a Trophic Cascade.

Wolf Awareness Week.  I would like it to be known someday as Wolf Awareness Year.  I was able to offer a few brief words to the audience and asked them to get involved and also help with the petition to stop the hunting of wolves until a decision has been rendered by the 9th District Court Circuit of Appeals currently considering this case.

Ambassador Wolf Programs such as Mission Wolf are so very important and we at National Wolfwatcher Coalition strongly support all of the programs that do such great work in bringing the education to the public. Thanks to Kent and Tracy and all the volunteers that make this happen to raise awareness for wolves.  And a big thanks to Mike Lach and his staff at the Harwich Conservation Trust for bringing this program into the community.  Also a big thanks is due to the people that show up and support these programs, the people that want to learn about wolves and other species, and especially those that want to make a difference.  And of course the biggest thanks goes to the wolves.  Without them this would be just another slide show, or speech.  They are the stars of the show, and hopefully this message will carry over to the wolves in the wild, and the many issues and hardships they face each and every day.

What you can do during Wolf Awareness Week, and every week thereafter is to visit a Conservation Center or a program such as this.  Get involved. Take Action.  Help to preserve wolves, and their habitat, as well as the many other species that need our help.  Do this for our future generations.  Do this for us.  And most of all do it for our wildlife and their habitat.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the fable ended one day like this? ” … and they lived Happily Ever After.”   The End.

Dave Hornoff
National Wolfwatcher Coalition
Understand, Love, Protect


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