While the east coast is blessed to have a rich variety of wildlife, we no longer get to watch packs of wolves roaming the forests. These top predators disappeared from the region in the 19th century, driven out and killed by early settlers afraid of the “big bad wolf.”
On Sunday, March 1, we led the Wolves and Waterfowl tour, travelling to northern Lancaster County to visit the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania. A unique facility dedicated to educating the public about wolves, the sanctuary is home to nearly 50 wolves living in packs inside wooded enclosures.
Enthusiastic and knowledgeable tour guides educated our group about the biology, behavior, and life history of these animals: Eastern and Western Timber Wolves, Gray Wolves, and Tundra Wolves. Living in packs, these noble creatures establish a social heirarchy just like in the wild.
We brought along a huge bag of beef parts salvaged from a butcher shop, fatty chunks of meat and bone that would provide good nutrition for the sanctuary’s wolves. Four Eastern Timber Wolves enjoyed this feast, using their powerful jaws and teeth to devour the big hunks of flesh in short order. These animals possess tremendous strength!
After the wonderful wolf tour, we headed to the nearby Middle Creek Wildlife Area. Over 5,000 acres of land are managed for wildlife, and the 400-acre lake attracts huge numbers of migrating waterfowl.
Each year in late February through mid-March, massive flocks of Snow Geese stop at Middle Creek to fuel up in nearby farm fields before heading northward again on their journey to their Arctic breeding grounds.
Many of these geese spent the winter in Delaware, as we know by identifying the geese that scientists have marked with special yellow numbered collars. These amazing geese are so prolific that they are destroying their Arctic breeding grounds by eating all the vegetation there.
The huge numbers of Snow Geese and thousands of Tundra Swans made the skies at Middle Creek look like a feathered blizzard. Bald Eagles flew over, flushing the geese in walls of white, giving photographers plenty of chance to burn the memory on their cameras. Our group of visitors from the Delaware Nature Society made memories, too, on our Wolves and Waterfowl tour.
– Report and photographs by Derek Stoner, Education Program Assistant