Thursday, July 25, 2013

Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre

Trip Date: June 2008

Wolves have long been my favorite wild animal so last Christmas Christine got me a great present; the opportunity to get up close and personal with wolves.  The Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre offers a truly unique experience called Blackwolf Photography.  Basically you get a chance to walk with and photograph wolves in the wild!  The wolves run free during the adventure hike/photography session, working between two handlers.  It was an amazing experience!

The Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre is located just west of Golden, British Columbia, which is about 265km west of Calgary along the Trans-Canada Highway.  It opened to the public in the summer of 2002, giving visitors a fun, educational experience, and the chance to see wolves up close.  The wolves live in a 1.25 acre enclosure, but are given regular off-leash exercise in the surrounding wilderness.  All of the wolves have been adopted from various facilities and were born and bred in captivity, which means they aren't candidates for release into the wild.  Each wolf has been socialized from a young age.  This allows them to be used for education and photography.  It also means being in captivity is less stressful because humans don't make them nervous.  The centre currently has eight wolves in their pack, with the newest additions having arrived in the spring of 2012.  

We decided to book our photography session while on our way to the Shuswap, since we'd be driving right through Golden anyway.  We left Calgary the night before with the intention of camping nearby the centre.  With the recommendation from a co-worker we tried to camp near Thompson Falls but wound up lost down an old logging road!

Try convincing Christine to sleep in a tent when this is one of three Black Bears we spotted on our drive!
After missing our camping location we settled on the Thompson Falls Recreation Site instead.  It was a beautiful spot right beside the Blaeberry River and the falls.

Blaeberry River
Thompson Falls
Christine enjoying the falls
Doing a little morning exploring
The remains of an old bridge
After enjoying breakfast by the river it was time to get moving!  The wolves await.  We were lucky to be sharing the trail with two wolves; Aspen and Wiley.  

Aspen was born in April 1998 and passed away in February 2013.  She was 25% Husky and 75% Grey Wolf and weighed about 30kg (65lbs.), which is average for a female wolf.  Aspen was the centre's main ambassador wolf, which means she was taken into schools and used for educational purposes with the students.  


Wiley is 100% Grey Wolf.  He was born in May 2002 and weighs a healthy 50kg (110lbs.).  Today he is a friendly, yet mischievious, ambassador wolf for the centre.  
Christine and Aspen
Wiley playing in the brush
Looking for meat treats that were tossed by the log
Christine, me and Aspen
You try getting two wolves to pose for the camera!
Aspen up on a tree stump
Rolling around in the grass
Christine with both Wildey and Aspen
This was an amazing experience and one I won't soon forget.  Even if you don't feel like paying the extra fee for the Blackwolf Photography experience it's well worth taking the time to visit the wolf centre and learn a few things you might not know about wolves.  

Recently I did a story for the Calgary Guardian titled, Walking With Wolves that features the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre.

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