Nature Notes: Thoughts from the TreeSong Community

Featuring Joan Beldin

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“Nine wolves from the Toklat pack appeared on a high slope about 1 ½ miles from their den. These wolves were returning home from a hunt. They stopped, looked toward their den, and howled. The mother and another adult wolf had stayed at the den to care for the pups. Hearing the howls of the hunter wolves, the mom and adult wolf swung around to focus on the howls and then howled together. The 6 pups shot out of the den and scurried under the two older wolves, their little tails wagging excitedly. The hunters were coming home – bringing food for those in their family who couldn’t join the hunt.

For the next ten minutes, it was quiet – the pups were play fighting and jumping all over the two older wolves, who were intently watching in the direction of the returning hunters. Then came another howl and quickly a chorus from all 9 hunters, now deep in the forest almost a mile from the den. The wolves at the den howled again and then silence. Another chorus of howls rose out of the forest, still closer and another burst of yipping and howling in response.

Finally the 9 hunters arrived at the den and all 17 of the wolves were almost beside themselves with excitement. They jumped on each other and romped about all over the den area, whimpering, whining, tails wagging, rubbing noses and licking each other’s faces. One howled and the entire group joined in for a nonstop 30 second chorus. Then another howled, prompting a chorus that lasted, on and off, for over two minutes. Four hunters regurgitated meat for the pups. The mother and helper received a large chunk of caribou meat. Thirty minutes later, the pups were still active, but it had been a long night for the hunters and they were now sleeping near the den.” (from Among Wolves by Gordon Haber)

This story told by Dr. Gordon Haber, a wolf biologist who studied wolves in the wild for 40 years, is just a teaser. If wolves could tell us all of their stories, they would fill volumes of books on the shelf. This is an intelligent animal rich in history, social relationships and individual personalities.

With wolves being relatively new on Washington’s landscape – they returned on their own only nine years ago – and their vital role as a keystone species in the ecosystem, they are an important native animal to get to know.

“In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.” Baba Dioum

To this end, WolfWays – a wolf education program in Oregon and Washington – was formed. WolfWays plants seeds – seeds of hope for our wolves. It was founded out of concern for the ongoing persecution of wolves worldwide. Age old misperceptions and exaggerated fears continue to be perpetuated by the media. How and when will it end? The answer may lie in the future – in the teaching of our young people who will then understand the truth about wolves and with understanding will learn to love and will learn to care. They are the future stewards – the wolves’ hope lies in them.

Together with WolfWays volunteer Cheryl Hollinger, I am delighted to return to Tree Song with our passion and the stories of the wolves.

Click here to learn about Joanie and Cheryl’s World of Wolves presentation at TreeSong on February 25th from 10am to 12pm.


Joanie BeldinJoanie Beldin has long been involved on various levels working to protect and recover the grey wolf. Wolves and their recovery have been her passion for over 35 years. With Wolfways, she combines this passion with her teaching background and her strong belief in the power of education.

Wolf Ways, a science-based  wolf education program sponsored by Oregon Wild and Wolf Haven International, was co-founded by Joanie Beldin and Jayme Burch. Programs are available for Pre-K through 8th grade, as well as adults. Since being launched in the spring of 2014, over 2,000 young people and adults have been amazed by the story of this country’s legendary, and often misunderstood, endangered species. Presentations are available for northern Oregon and southern Washington.

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