Best Places To See Wolves

 

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wolves howling
For permission to use or for more information about wolf photographs please write Monty Sloan of Wolf Park.

WOLVES TODAY: current situation and conflicts

Wolves used to be common throughout much of North America but today mainly live in Canada and adjoining states. About 6,000 to 8,000 wolves live in Alaska and 5,000 in the lower 48 states, mainly in Minnesota, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

Wolves were wiped out in most areas by ranchers worried about wolves eating livestock, legal and illegal hunters, European immigrants superstitious about werewolves and government bounties. From the 1600s up until the 1960s all levels of government have offered a bounty for each wolf killed. Many believe the elimination of the wolf led to the current abundance of deer and coyote.

 

Wolves have recovered thanks to the Endangered Species Act, re-introduction programs and migrants from Canada. The coywolf, a hybrid of wolf and coyote, has spread east to the coast, filling in as a predator where wolves were wiped out.

 

Wolf attacks on livestock are rare, but ranchers do suffer losses. Ranchers that suspect depredation by wolves are usually permitted to have the wolves killed. Defenders of Wildlife reimburses some losses. Big game hunters have also fought wolf reintroductions, worried that wolves would eat the elk, deer, moose or other animals they want to shoot.

 

Of three worldwide wolf species--gray wolf Canis lupus, red wolf Canis rufus and Ethiopian wolf, Canis simensis--North America has two species, red and gray. The gray wolf currently has five subspecies linked to location (Arctic, Mexican, Great Plains/buffalo, Rocky Mountain and Eastern Timber). Biologists are still sorting out the wild canid categories, which is confused by interbreeding.

 

The red wolf was re-introduced to North Carolina's Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, but it is breeding with coyote. Wolves were brought back to Yellowstone in 1985, leading to a more natural balance in population. The wolf was removed from the Endangered Species List in 2008. Eleven conservation groups sued, saying the wolf population is still not sustainable because it is fractured among Yellowstone, central Idaho, and northwestern Montana.

 

The last few remaining Mexican wolves were captured by 1980 to enter a captive breeding program at zoos across the country. Their offspring were re-introduced at Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA) in the Apache National Forest, but still only 52 survive in the wild as of 2008, only half the number expected. Dozens of wolves were returned to captivity for attacking livestock or illegally shot.

 

The Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation allows the aerial hunting of wolves in 10% of the state for the stated purpose of allowing humans to eat more moose and deer. Conservation groups are fighting to outlaw the practice and Alaska voters have agreed twice.

 

Despite centuries of effort to eliminate the wolf from the North American landscape, wolves are popping up in places they haven't been seen in a long time.

 

wolf pups

For permission to use or for more information about wolf photographs please write Monty Sloan of Wolf Park.

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VIEWING TIPS

Wolves are extremely difficult to see in the wild. You have a much better chance of just trying to hear them howl at night. In the few places around the country that you might see them--Yellowstone, upper Minnesota and parts of Alaska--you will improve your chances greatly by hiring a local guide or going on a wolf tour. The Alligator River Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina offers night tours to hear their re-introduced red wolf howl. The International Wolf Center has learning vacations to all the big places around the country to see wolves in the wild.

 

Wolf tourism is becoming an important economic factor in the debate over wolf management. According to Defenders of Wildlife, wolves bring more than 150,000 people and $35 million to the Yellowstone area each year.

 

For many people a far more practical option will be to see wolves at a local refuge. Even while ranchers and hunters have killed off wild wolves, individuals around the country were carving out tiny safe havens for wolves. Chicagoans can see wolves up close at Indiana's Wolf Park or Lockport's Big Run Wolf Ranch. New Yorkers are only an hour from the New York Wolf Conservation Center and within two hours of the Lakota Wolf Preserve. These refuges vary greatly in size and mission, from small family operations set up to save an individual wolf to large research facilities, such as Minnesota's International Wolf Center or the Endangered Wolf Center outside St. Louis. Some also help wild wolves through captive breeding or wildlife rehabilitation.

wolf napping

 

 

BEST PLACES TO SEE WOLVES

midwest Midwest - See other animals in the Midwest

International Wolf Center - MN

The International Wolf Center has daily programs. You can  meet ambassador wolves, attend seminars or having a learning vacation. Reservations required.
800-ELY-WOLF (800-359-9653)
1396 Hwy 169 Ely, MN

Wolf Park - In

Wolf behavioral biologist Erich Klinghammer founded Wolf Park in 1972 as a nonprofit to research wolves and educate the public about them.  Wolf Park is open to the public during summer, including Saturday night wolf howls.
1.5 miles north on Jefferson/Harrison Street from State Road 225
Battle Ground, IN, (765) 567-2265

Big Run Wolf Ranch - IL - Suburban Chicago

The Big Run Wolf Ranch is a federally licensed non-profit educational facility. John and Julie Basile, a biology teacher, have rescued wolves, a black bear, a skunk and other animals from death. They now educate the public at school events or special open houses. 
14857 S Farrell Rd., Lockport, IL (815) 588-0044

where to see moose

Isle Royale - MI (on Canadian border)
Isle Royale National Park has gray wolves that are believed to have walked over an ice bridge some time after 1940. The wolves are hard to see. The wolves depend on the island's moose and both populations have been hit hard by ticks. The  predator-prey relationship has been studied for 50 years.
Isle Royale is only accessible by boat. Ferries come from Houghton and Copper Harbor, Michigan and Grand Portage, Minnesota.
(906) 482-0984

Wolf Timbers - OH

Wolf Timbers is dedicated to the preservation of timber wolves through public education and research. During the summer it's open to visitors every day. They also offer night howls, photography sessions and private tours.
French Hill Road/Twp. Hwy 379
Bolivar, OH 330-323-0815, toll free 866-USA-WOLF

Sandhill Wildlife Area - Outdoor Skills Center - WI

Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center offers classes on tracking Wisconsin wolves and a chance to volunteer in the wolf census.
1715 County Highway X, Babcock, WI, (715) 884-2437
northeast Northeast - See other animals in the Northeast

Lakota Wolf Preserve - NJ

The Lakota Wolf Preserve houses timber, tundra and arctic wolves in an area of the country where wolves are now extinct. Packs are separated into fenced areas. You can tour behind the fence or have a photography tour inside the fence.
Mount Pleasant Rd., Columbia, NJ (908) 496-9244

Cape Cod Coywolf Field School

Jon Way, a wildlife biologist who studies and advocates for the coy-wolf, lets you tag along on expeditions for Eastern Coyote Research to watch and radio track America's new predominant canine predator. You can go for just a dusk or dawn field school or spend a few days, even staying at his house.

Wolf Conservational Center - NY - Westchester County

The New York Wolf Conservation Center promotes the preservation of wolves through education and captive breeding and release programs. The public can visit at programs several times a week, including wolf howls. The center helps with the recovery of extremely rare Mexican Gray Wolves and Red Wolves.
The 7 Buck Run, South Salem, NY (914) 763-2373

Wolf Hollow - Ma

Wolf Hollow allows visitors to get an upclose look a pack of pack of British Colombian timber wolves and learn about their place in nature.
Presentations regularly on weekends--less in winter.
114 Essex Rd., Ipswich, MA (978) 356-0216

Wolf and Wild Canine Sanctuary - VT

The Wolf and Wild Canine Sanctuary is a small non-profit sanctuary for unwanted, abandoned and illegally imported wolves. The sanctuary used to take in hybrids, but now concentrates on wolves. Open for visitors, just call.
175 Bliss Road, White River Junction, VT (802) 295-5378
Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania
The Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania houses about 40 wolves. This non-profit has been open for decades and educates the public on daytime and nighttime tours (reservations required).
465 Speedwell Forge Rd., Lititz, PA (717) 626-4617
south Plains -- See other animals on the Plains
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Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge - NC

The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is hosting the important re-introduction of the endangered red wolves to the east coast. The species  was extinct in the wild as of 1980. This peninsula is ideal because could cut down on cross-breeding with coyotes. 
You may not see a wolf, but the wildlife refuge hosts frequent howling safaris so that you can go out and hear the howls.
On Route 64 west of 264, Mateo, NC (252) 473-1131

Endangered Wolf Center - MO

Bays Mountain Park - TN

Bays Mountain Park rehabilitates injured wild animals and keeps the ones that wouldn't make it in the wild. Their gray wolf pack has 1.5 acres and a dedicated wolf cam. The park also takes care of otters, bobcats, raptors and snakes.
853 Bays Mountain Park Rd
Kingsport, TN (423) 229-9447

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Western North Carolina Nature Center
The Western North Carolina Nature Center is home to a pair of rare red wolves  that are part of a captive breeding program. The center also houses river otters, black bear, gray wolves and other animals that can't be released.
828-298-5600 75 Gashes Creek Rd Asheville, NC 28803
Wolf Howl Animal Preserve - MS
Wolf Howl Animal Preserve is a safe haven for wolves (usually bred in other facilities) that offers private tours.
1177 State Road 355, Etta, MS (662) 534-8112
Florida - See other animals in Florida

Seacrest Wolf Preserve - Fl

The Seacrest Wolf Preserve is home to wolves and wolf-hybrids that former owners discarded. The center offers educational tours.
3449 Bonnett Pond Rd. Chipley, FL (850) 773-2897
out west The West - See other animals out West

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where to see moose

Yellowstone National Park - WY
Many packs of wolves live in Yellowstone National Park, especially around Lamar Valley. The wolves were re-introduced in 1985 after being wiped out. They are most easily seen in early morning in February, when they mate, but can be seen all year. According to Defenders of Wildlife, wolves bring more than 150,000 people and $35 million to the Yellowstone area each year.
Lamar Valley is off the NE Entrance Road, which comes into the park off Route 212 in Cooke City. Many guides will help you find the animals. The nonprofit Yellowstone Institute offers classes in the field.
Yellowstone National Park 307-344-7381
Yellowstone Institute 307-344-2293 
mexican wolf

Gila and Apache National Forests - AZ and NM

The Gila and Apache National Forests have one of the rarest animals in North America: the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf(Canus lupus baileyi). Despite decades of breeding and reintroductions on both sides of the international border, only about 40 survive in the wild. Local ranchers, who graze on federal lands at discounted rates, are the prime suspects in the 36 shootings.

The Arizona Fish and Game Dept., in a really expensive effort to show these ranchers where the wolves are, posts weekly updates on the packs' locations.

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Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center - MT - Outside Yellowstone

The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center offers a place for injured bears and wolves to live out their lives and educate the public. If you don't see the animals on your visit to Yellowstone, here's your second chance.
One block south of the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park
201 South Canyon, West Yellowstone, MT (800) 257-2570

Mission Wolf - CO

Mission: Wolf cares for 40 wolves and wolf-hybrids that couldn't make it in the wild. They pride themselves on their priorities: "wolves first, education second and paperwork last." But they eagerly welcome visitors who hope to learn about wolves.
13388 County Road 634 • Gardner, CO 81040

Wolf Education & Research Center - ID

The Wolf Education & Research Center  (WERC) teaches the public about gray wolves on on the Nez Perce Reservation.  The center offers regular tours in the summer and special educational experiences, such as wolf tracking.
518 Joseph Ave., Winchester, ID (208) 924-6960

Wolf Haven International - WA

Wolf Haven rescues captive-born wolves (and foxes and wolf-hybrids) from roadside zoos, animal collectors and researchers.
They also raise the rare Mexican gray wolf for release to the wild.

Wolf Haven International, 3111 Offut Lake Rd. SE, Tenino, WA (800) 448-9653

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Animal Ark Sanctuary - NV

The Animal Ark Sanctuary takes in native and exotic animals that don't have the skills or physical ability to survive in the wild. Residents include black bears, wolves, foxes, owls and many big cats (cheetah, bobcat, tiger, lynx, leopard).
1265 Deerlodge Rd., Reno, NV (775) 970-3111
Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center
Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center  gives a home to wolves, fox,  and other animals. The center wants to teach people who think they may want a wolf hybrid about the approximately 250,000 wolf-dogs that are born in the US every year, almost 80% will likely die before they reach their third birthday. 
Twin Rock Road, off U.S. Hwy 24, Divide, CO, (719) 687-9742

Howling Acres Wolf Sanctuary - Or

Howling Acres Wolf Sanctuary takes in injured wild wolves and wolves people tried to make into pets, then abandoned. The Labat family also gives daily tours to educate the public.
555 Davidson Rd., Williams, OR (541) 846-8962

Wolfkeep Wildlife Sanctuary - MT

Wolfkeep Wildlife Sanctuary keeps a pack of nine arctic wolves and one gray wolf. They have different activities throughout the year to teach the public about wolves and let people be near the wolves. They offer photo sessions, research opportunities, sweat lodges.
23545 Mt Highway 200 E, Bonner, MT, 406-244-5207

White Wolf Sanctuary - Or

The White Wolf Sanctuary allows 8-10 pure arctic wolves to roam over 40 enclosed acres. These animals are injured or abandoned and can't make it in the wild. Private tours available.
Tidewater, OR
(541) 528-3588
Alaska Alaska - See other animals in Alaska

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Katmai National Park - AK

Katmai National Park has a large population of gray wolves, which can often be seen at Brooks Falls, which has a platform to view the 100-some grizzly bears that fish for salmon here. The wolves also fish here.
Brooks Camp, about 30 miles from King Salmon, is where most visitors go and it's only accessible by boat or plane. (907) 246-3305

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where to see moose

Denali National Park - Alaska

Denali National Park has wolf packs that can be seen or heard around the park. Many driving visitors can see the "Big Five" charismatic megafauna: grizzlies, wolf, Dall sheep, moose and caribou. The wolves sometimes travel along the main road on which the shuttle buses carry visitors.
Denali fact sheet 907-683-2294
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CA California -- See other animals in California

Wolf Mountain Sanctuary

The 30-year-old Wolf Mountain Sanctuary is where animators for Twilight: New Moon learned to get the feel of wolves. Outside San Bernadino, the Sanctuary is a sanctuary home for 17 wolves that would have been euthanized after they were used in show biz or as pets. The sanctuary lets you get close to the wolves, believing that since they were raised with humans, they need human love. A one hour tour is $20; all day is $125. (760) 248-7818

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Wolves-N-Wildlife - CA

Wolves-N-Wildlife is an educational facility in the mountains that has gray wolves, a black bear and a siberian tiger. Tours available for school groups and private parties.
2550 S Mountain Rd. Fillmore, CA (805) 524-0781
California Wolf Center
The California Wolf Center is home to several packs of gray wolves. They work on wolf conservation, research and public education. Visitors get to meet some of the wolves in a program every Saturday. The center houses a secluded pack of endangered Mexican Wolves to aid in the recovery effort.
California Wolf Center, 1800 Hwy. 78, Julian, CA (760) 765-0030
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Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf CentrE - CANADA - British Columbia

The Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre has a pack of wolves that were raised in captivity and are not releasable. The wolves live in a 1.25 acre enclosure. The public can visit, see the wolves and learn about their place in the wild.
1745 Short Road, Golden, BC Canada V0A 1H1
(250) 344.6798 or toll free 1.877.377.WOLF

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badger

British Columbia Wildlife Park Kamloops - Canada
The BC Wildlife Park Kamloops takes in injured, orphaned and sick local wildlife. Those that can be released are at the appropriate time and place. Those who can't make it in the wild stay and teach the public. They have wolves, black and grizzly bear, lynx, cougar, bi