Sunday, April 28, 2024

The Cloud Wolves of Kaska Coast



Click on any photo to enlarge it. I have taken all the photos in my blog.

 Hello again! Are you warm? Because I've just returned from a trip to Kaska Coast of the Hudson Bay in Canada, and boy was it freezing! "What did you do there?" you may ask. I was on a wild wolf "safari" in a place so remote that you take a little plane that lands at the short airstrip in front of a lodge, and apart from the staff and other visitors, there's not a living soul anywhere close. Well, not a living human soul - That area of sub-arctic Canada is bustling with moose, caribou, owls and other birds, foxes, polar bears, and of course - wolves! (After all, can't go on a wolf safari if there are no wolves.)

During the winter, the polar bears are out on the frozen sea, so wolves are the king predator of the area. So all you need to do is dress warm and go look for them. And boy - it is cold out there in the winter!

See what I mean? Yes, that is me, thank you.

The wolves in that area are not hunted, and they see so few people each year that they are not afraid of humans. And contrary to common legends - no, they are not out to kill humans. Quite amazing how the animals from whom came all the beloved dogs we're so attached to, are portrayed in stories and legends as those mean, vicious animals. Does this little cutie look harmful to you? (Spoiler alert: wolves are among the most efficient predators on earth)

In, fact, while humans are not allowed to actively get closer than 100 meters to a pack of wolves, the wolves of Kaska Coast would often just get closer to you, curious and trying to figure you out. And it's not that they sit there waiting for you; it's a game of tracking them and then hoping to see them. You want 100% chance of sighting? Go on a giraffe safari in Africa.

Wolves live in packs, and a pack is a family: mom, dad, and their kids. One or two new kids are born each year, and every so often one of the kids will leave the pack, and go look for another loner to start their own family. A pack has a territory that's often about 200 square miles or more, which it protects and controls and doesn't let other packs enter. They live in that territory, hunt there, and hang out. They often stay together, and look like a bunch of dogs playing in the park.


Fun fact: when the wolves roam their territory, they just run and run.  When a wolf needs to pee, they would just do that mid run, on the path, and they would pee like female dogs do - on all four, sitting low. Except, that is, for mom and dad - they would pee outside the path, usually on a tree or bush, and do it both like male dogs (one leg up) so they can pee higher up. Hey - it's their job to mark the territory of the pack and make sure the scent stays longer!

Wolves are very intelligent, have strong social and emotional instincts, and if you look close into a wolf's eyes - some people swear they see wisdom in them.


A wolf pack is also one of the most efficient hunting and killing machines. They could chase a 1,000 pounds (450 kg) moose, running at 30 miles/hour, for three days and nights until the moose can no longer run, and then get it. Each wolf would then eat close to 50 pounds (25 kg). Also important to remember: like most land predators, wolves will almost always go for the weak and slow, in a way contributing to healthy evolution. This is as opposed to human hunters, who go for the biggest and strongest prey because hey - they're heroes with a rifle! 


But listen to this: mom and dad would wave all the kids away, except for the most recently born. Then those young ones would eat, and following them - the parents, and only then would they let the older kids come and eat. Reminds me of the families I know! 


I don't know about you, but after I eat 50 pounds of moose meat, all I want to do is go to sleep for three days and just hang out with my family. Turns out - so do wolves!


Yes, the pack would spend the time sleeping, hanging out, playing, and sleeping again. They don't seem to care if it's snowing hard!

But then they also get some of those nights where you just want to lie on your back and look at the sky:

Special thanks to Churchill Wild who hosted this tour! And don't forget to browse the other posts in my blog.