Wolf Centre FAQ
Frequently asked Questions about the Wild Wolves roaming the woods of Haliburton Forest
Besides the wolves at the Wolf Centre, Haliburton Forest is home to several packs of wild wolves, freely roaming the vast expanses of our forests.
How many wild wolves live in Haliburton Forest?
We have established that there are three packs utilizing Haliburton Forest. Notice carefully the term "utilize"! An average pack in this area requires approximately 200sq.km (approximately 50,000 acres) of territory to find enough food and shelter.
This means that the wolves inhabiting Haliburton Forest are not restricted to its property boundaries.
How do we know this?
...through Howling Surveys. Howling surveys are conducted during the months of July and August when wolves are concentrated near their denning and/or rendezvous sites and are apt to "respond" to howling imitations. At this time of year they are less mobile and when individuals do travel they tend to return to these particular areas.
This allows experienced "howlers" to get accurate positions on each pack, using compass and map applying triangulation which can approximate their position.
How many wolves are in a pack ?
In the summer of 1999, for example, two of the packs, which were found here had four to seven members and the third contained an estimated 8 to 10 individuals.
Howling surveys can also indicate the numbers within a pack through recognition of individual voices by experienced researchers/howlers.
What do wolves eat?
Wolves eat a variety of food items depending on what is available in any specific geographic area. Their diet can include elk, caribou, deer, rabbit or rodents, among numerous other prey species. Wolves are also known to feed - to a very small degree though - on berries and insects. Here at Haliburton Forest, wolves rely mainly on Beaver and White-tailed Deer for their food supply.
To many visitor's surprise, we find comparatively little moose in a wolf's diet. On a seasonal basis, we find that during the spring, summer and fall months (March to November) a large proportion of the local wolves' diet is made up of beaver. Particularly in the fall, and when beaver are abundant, up to 80% of their diet consists of this large rodent ! During the winter months (December through to February), we see a shift in the main prey to white-tailed Deer (approximately 80%).
How do we know this?
...through the ongoing collection and analysis of wild wolf scat (wolf excrement) from the Haliburton Forest property. Wolf scat is very firmly packed with hair and bone. By carefully examining its content the wolf's dietary mystery is revealed.
The knowledge of the diet of wolves in the wild assists us in providing our captive wolves with the appropriate feed in keeping with their natural prey. We feed the Haliburton Forest Wolf Pack predominantly beaver, which we obtain from local trappers and the occasional deer or moose which are retrieved as road kills.
Will we ever feed the wolves in the enclosure live animals? No! Although wolves will kill in the wild, it is not humane to provide them with live "food" in a captive situation like the Wolf centre.
How are wolves related to dogs?
Scientists today believe that all breeds of dogs are descending from wolves. The domestication of wolves occurred over the past 12,000 to 15,000 years.
How long will wolves live?
As wolves are the ancestors of dogs, they will live under socialized, captive conditions to a similar age as large dogs. In the wild, wolf mortality is very high with most pups dying before they are 1 year old. A 7-year old wolf in the wild is an old wolf, who has beaten many odds.
Will we ever release Wolf centre wolves into the wild?
No! The Haliburton Forest Wolf centre wolf pack was born and raised in captivity and will never be released into the wild.
"Through Nature, through the evolutionary continuum and ecological relatedness and interdependence of all living things, we are as much a part of the wolf as the wolf is a part of us. And as we destroy or demean nature, wolves, or any creature, great or small, we do no less to ourselves."
-Michael W. Fox, The Soul of the Wolf