“Wakan Tanka, Great Mystery, teach me how to trust my heart, my mind, my intuition, my inner knowing, the senses of my body, the blessings of my spirit. Teach me to trust these things so that I may enter my sacred space and love beyond my fear, and thus walk in balance with the passing of each glorious sun. ”
― American Indian Lakota Prayer
Wolves are extremely shy animals and are extremely suspicious of humans. This makes spotting them in their natural surroundings very difficult. A wolf preserve, is probably as close as one can get to seeing them in their natural surroundings. Lakota Wolf Preserve , in Columbia, NJ is quite easily accessible by road. They run guided Wolf Tours twice a day, everyday except Mondays. There is a tour starting at 10:30 am and one starting at 4:00 pm. Reservations need to be made for weekday tours. Once you sign-in at the visitor centre, it’s a short easy hike up to the preserve. Incase you don’t feel particularly up to it, there is a shuttle bus as well.
The facility is owned and run by Jim Stein and Becky Mace. The couple care for all the animals at the preserve and have raised several of them from pups.Right from bottle feeding the pups to teaching them to poop (usually canine mommy’s do that by licking their bottoms, Jim and Becky pat them with warm wet cloths), this wonderful couple has hand raised these wolves.Wolf pups are extremely fussy eaters and the milk has to be at just the right temperature to get them to feed. Feeding the adults is no less of a chore. At Lakota, sometimes they feed the animals road kill (deer) or animals that have been killed by farmers for destroying crops. These carcasses have to be disemboweled and de-horned before they can be fed to the wolves. And oh..they need to be picked up first and later physically hauled up some distance to the enclosures. Jim and Becky also take care of minor veterinary works on the preserve. For all major works, they have a vet who comes over.
There are 3 types of wolves on the facility – British Columbian, Artic and Timber wolves.The tours are not just about spotting the wolves, they are also about learning about them. Since almost all the animals have been born in captivity, are familiar with humans, and know there’s a snack waiting for them at the fence, sightings are guarantee. Jim, the wolf man is extremely knowledgeable, and happy to tell you all he knows and answer all your questions. In addition to wolves they also have foxes and bob cats. Jim’ wife, Becky is the fox and bobcat lady.The day we went she wasn’t in as her father was unwell and she had to rush to his side. I hope he’s better now. We couldn’t see the bobcats, but Jim brought out the foxes.
Jim even tried to get the wolves to howl for us, but they just weren’t in a mood for it. Later when he was filling in for Becky with the foxes, something – perhaps a fire siren in the distance set them off. They raised their heads and sang a beautiful song for us- Song of the Wolves, if you please.