About 3 hours north of Toronto, way up in Central Ontario, you can find The Haliburton Wildlife Reserve. A 70.000 acres of protected hardwood forest, beautiful lakes, meandering rivers and extensive wetlands where a pack of wolves live and roam freely on a 15 acre reserve set aside for them.
The Centre is about 5,000 square foot facility that houses exhibits, a cinema and classroom, a retail space, a large indoor observatory, all focused in working on integrated, sustainable resource management and land use for wolves.
The observatory is equipped with one-way glass and a microphone to watch and listen to the wolf pack. Even though, viewings are not guaranteed as the wolves are free to roam wherever they choose, I strongly suggest a visit, many people will go their whole lives never seeing a wolf or hearing a wolf’s howl!
I had the opportunity to visit the Centre twice once in the summer and one time in winter and I had been lucky both times… I learned a great deal about wolves behaviour and the hierarchy of the pack. The Alpha Male runs the clan along with his chosen Alpha female. They are followed by the Beta male which is second in command and then the rest fill out the list until the Omega wolf which usually is the weakest of the pack and gets bullied by the other wolves. It is the last to eat and it stays to itself while the rest of the pack sleeps and plays together.
Beyond seeing the artifacts dating back to the late 1800’s, on the Logging Museum, you can learn about the Haliburton Forest’s settlement, where wolves history is dating back to 1977.
Wolves are an integral part of a functioning ecosystem. Society’s impacts on these top predators and conservation programs are highly controversial. Wolves are seen as fascinating and unique members of Ontario’s wildlife heritage and symbols of wilderness. Wolves are also seen as competitors with human interests in the areas of predation on other wildlife species and domestic livestock.
In view of the apparent relative abundance of gray and eastern wolves in Ontario, compared to their world status, Ontario has an international responsibility to conserve this species carefully. Wolves can be considered a barometer of both biodiversity and a functioning ecosystem.