A few weeks ago, my husband and I took a day trip to the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia, New Jersey. The preserve rests on Camp Taylor, just minutes from the Delaware Water Gap and the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. It is owned by Dan and Pam Bacon and Jim Stein. They have three different types of wolves that include the Timber, Tundra, and Arctic wolves. They also have two adorable foxes and three bobcats. Each pack and group of animals has their own fenced-in space that is more generous and humane than any in any zoo. The wolves have plenty of space to run, play with each other, and act like wolves, while still being protected.

As we began the tour, we were given information and facts about the nature of the wolf. Since it is a hot East Coast summer, the wolves had shed their luscious coats, looking a little like skinny coyotes. However, they were a perfect weight and quite larger than a coyote, husky, or a malamute dog. I immediately noticed that they behaved just like dogs, as they were panting and excited to see us (actually, their caretaker/pack leader, Jim, who had treats for them). Jim told us that they feed the wolves roadkill from the area, mostly deer meat.

Jim informed us about his preservation efforts along with interesting insights, such as wolves actually want to stay away from humans, and there only being one incident in the United States of a wolf attacking a man. I asked Jim what his inside knowledge was about the hunting of wolves in Alaska, and he said that the horror stories we hear about aerial hunting of wolves and their baby pups are true and unfortunately quite active today because of their state policies. (Thank you, Sarah Palin.) The reason behind all this hunting of wolves in Alaska is that the wolves are supposedly killing all their caribou (moose, deer, etc.), which are desired for the decadent and profit-making sport of hunting for the state. The irony is that these hunters justify killing all this caribou because of their overpopulation, especially in industrialized areas. So if there is an overpopulation of moose, why not let the natural predator (the wolf) take care of this situation as a natural part of the ecosystem? Contrary to claims that there is an overpopulation of Alaskan wolves, wolves are actually an endangered species in the United States. To reiterate, wolves want to stay away from men, and they are a natural predator of caribou. But, where there is an overpopulation of caribou, there is an abundance of expensive hunting licenses granted, contributing to the state’s economy.

In all honesty, men do not want to stay away from wolves. We have a natural fascination toward them. They have a mystical reputation. How we love the stories of werewolves and vampires. All this has nothing to do with the true nature of the wolf. They are timid, loyal, and intelligent animals. Yes, they are powerful and can be ferocious toward their prey or threat. They are wild. But, when you look in their eyes, you see wisdom, strength, and gentleness all at the same time. As I looked into the eyes of a black wolf, his gaze penetrated into my soul. I had a feeling of healing as I saw his strength and wisdom. I also wanted to pet him, but that, I have to admit, would be dangerous. I am attracted to this bad boy. He is dangerous and unpredictable, yet gentle and sweet. Don’t we all love that?

Our tour ended with a symphony of howls from all four packs of wolves all at the same time. The sound reminded me of a Native American flute. It was peaceful, spiritual, and very soothing. We were told to howl along with them. I felt connected to them. We are connected to each other.


In The Fray is a nonprofit staffed by volunteers. If you liked this piece, could you please donate $10?