You’ll find abundant wildlife in the Haliburton Forest, but did you know it is also home to a pack of grey wolves?
Just north of the village of Haliburton, Ont., you’ll find the Haliburton Forest Wolf Centre, a wildlife reserve and education site.
“We have a live pack of seven wolves that live in a seven-acre enclosure that you can view through the one-way glass of our observation areas,” said wolf centre co-ordinator, Marena Wigmore.
“Then along with that, we’ve got a whole slew of educational exhibits so you can learn more about the wolves while you enjoy seeing them.”
The enclosure was built in 1996, when a pack of wolves were rehomed there from a site in Michigan. Now Wigmore said their main focus is education.
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“A full-grown German shepherd only has half the jaw strength of an adult wolf, so that is 1,500 pounds per square inch of crush force,” said Wigmore.
When it comes to their hearing, it’s four times stronger than ours. And their sense of smell? One hundred times stronger than a human’s.
Wigmore added that wolves can smell their dinner when it’s taken out of the freezer to defrost — inside. (The pack is fed randomly every five to 10 days on site).
Every pack has two alphas, a male and female. They are the only two wolves allowed to reproduce. In this case, the alphas are Luna and Piper. Wigmore said as pups mature, it is possible they will vie for that top spot — maybe by picking a fight, or asserting dominance in other ways.
“For example, one of the ways that Luna maintains some control over one of our other mature females, Quest, is that she doesn’t allow her to participate in some of the group activities, like howling,” said Wigmore.
Mom, Luna, is 11 years old. The average lifespan is typically four or five.
The newest member of the pack is a five-month-old female pup. She doesn’t have a name yet, but you can help: a naming contest is taking place on the wolf centre website. The only stipulation is the name must start with a “W.”
Meanwhile, in-person viewing runs all year round. Wigmore said the pack is even more playful in the winter and the wolves look even more majestic once their winter coats come in.
And while they can’t guarantee you’ll spot the pack, because of the seven acres of roaming space, Wigmore said they’ll often hang out near the viewing enclosure.
“The biggest takeaway we hope folks get is a breaking of this conception of wolves as a predator to be afraid of,” she said.
“They aren’t this big, awful, nasty creature like the big bad wolf, or with movies like The Grey. Getting to see them up close gives you the opportunity to say, ‘I see where my dog came from, I see this animal in a different light’.”
For more information, you can visit the Haliburton Forest Wolf Centre website.