So yes, as I mentioned in last week’s post, a dark new gray wolf has come from Canada to live with the silver girl on the Minnesota Trail. I heard he was skittish and shy after barely a week in his new home, but I headed out in yesterday’s sudden shocking cold (from 50 degrees down to 10, in 48 hours) on the off-chance I might get a good look. Let’s see if I had any luck.
In that spacious exhibit with all those concealing trees, he was right by the window! I saw him before he saw me, and I edged slowly around the corner from the cabin-like viewing room to improve my vantage point. When our eyes first met, he showed his skittishness by leaping sideways and back a few paces. But then he staked out a spot and returned my gaze — until the silver girl came even closer and he transferred his serious gaze to her.
In the 1940s, wolves were so endangered that northern Minnesota was their only wild habitat in the lower 48 states. Last month, they made news again by coming off the threatened species list. (The Minnesota DNR details their return from federal to state management.) Of course, the world still needs wolf pups, and wolf-breeding season (late January to early March) is nearly upon us. I wrote all about Wolf Watch two years ago, when the silver girl was a 2-year-old living with a 12-year-old, and volunteers camped out with clipboards in the cabin-like viewing room, watching in half-hour shifts for signs of a May-December romance. That handsome old fellow has retired to a Michigan zoo, and the new dad-in-waiting is less than 2 years old himself. Like the silver girl in 2010, he might still be too young this year. But Wolf Watch resumes three days from now, and soon we’ll see if jet-black and silver-white shades of gray meet somewhere in the middle.