Trotting out of the trees, Scrappy Dave stops and locks his stunning amber eyes on me. I stand there, anticipating his next move. Then, nonchalantly, he carries on up the trail, seemingly unbothered by my presence.
A chance encounter?
Not quite. But having the rare opportunity to spend time with a wolf in his natural element is made available through the Blackwolf Photography walk at the Northern Lights Conservation Centre, located near Golden BC.
The scenery alone at Northern Lights is worth the visit. Located moments off the Trans Canada highway just west of Golden BC, the road quickly opens up to the stunning Blaeberry Valley. “Blaeberry” is Gaelic for blueberry; the valley was named by Dr. James Hector in 1859 after finding an abundance of the fruit in the area.
The Northern Lights Conservation Centre is dedicated to promoting wolf conservation throughout the natural environment. Owners Shelley and Casey Black are committed to their protection, as they believe wolves are integral to the ecosystem as a keystone species.
“Today, a wolf in the wild only lives four to five years, due in large part to lack of food sources and widespread hunting,” explains Shelley Black, “In comparison, wolves in captivity live an average of 15 years.
The Centre is not a breeding facility – all the wolves were born in captivity, are spayed or neutered and are socialized with humans from a very young age. However, the Centre serves an important role for wolf conservation and education.
Visitors can visit the Centre anytime to see the wolves and listen to an interpretive tour, or reserve a spot in advance for the unique photography walk.
Heading out into the valley for our walk on a stunning winter day, we are accompanied by two wolves: 15 year old “Maya”, and 21 month old “Scrappy Dave”.
Their ease in the forest environment is obvious, and capturing their natural movements on camera is a delight even for the amateur photographer.
Although seemingly playful with sometimes domestic tendencies, these wolves command respect. There’s something in their gorgeous stares and regal stances that make this Golden mountain outing undeniably captivating. Visit http://www.tourismgolden.com.
This blog post also appears at: http://blogs.calgaryherald.com/2014/01/30/walk-with-the-wolves-in-golden-bc/