I was given a very special opportunity to meet some wolves and photograph them. It was an experience that touched me and meant so much. Wolves have always been an inspiring animal to me. I even have a big timber wolf tattooed on my arm. I learned an immense amount of information about wolves during this trip and got to know some of their personalities. At Mission: Wolf, wolves are treated like amazing and wild animals. They are treated with respect and build relationships with the workers who care for them. Currently, they are at capacity, with 31 wolves in the sanctuary. Most of these wolves were pets, until they stopped being puppies and the owners couldn’t handle them. Some of the others were found as babies or rescued from terrible places that use wildlife to make money off of twisted tourists. The workers are not compensated for their time, hard work and expertise. I think that says so much about what Mission: Wolf is. It’s uniquely staffed with people who are passionate and qualified to do this very difficult job.
Upon my arrival I was greeted by a few staff members that could not have been more kind and informative. They taught me how to behave and carry myself around the wolves and then started to give me some background on how these wild animals ended up in the sanctuary. I was also informed on the personalities of the wolves I would be photographing. Each wolf has a very distinct personality and with that, they react to new people in very different ways. These wolves are wild animals. They are in no way tame. The only wolves that are mildly tamed are the “ambassador” wolves. And they aren’t tame per se... as the worker told me “Something is wrong with them. In the wild they would have died for sure.”
“We wear clothes, and speak, and create civilizations, and believe we are more than wolves. But inside us there is a word we cannot pronounce and that is who we are.” – Anthony Marra
There are two types of wolves I photographed; timber wolves and grey wolves. You’ll notice that one of these wolves is an arctic wolf- they fall under the umbrella of grey wolf. While they all look so different, they have something in common. THOSE EYES. They are really something to behold- they have a wisdom that I was not able to capture as much as I wanted to. I think I may have been a little too excited, overwhelmed and dazzled. But you can certainly feel that they know things. They know you. It is the strangest I’ve felt around wildlife that I can recall. It was this sense of nervous calm. There was definitely some energy exchange taking place. A connectedness that was deep. And explains how and why humans and wolves have been bonded for so long.
Wolves partner for life. They love their partner and often times go into a depression or die shortly after losing said partner. Much like humans. The two wolves pictured below are a bonded pair that met at the sanctuary. And you could feel them communicating. They had mirrored movements and would only come near me when they were together.
The founder of this sanctuary and his wife have done something truly remarkable here. They were also two of the people that were integral to the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone. A reintroduction that has proven to be important, healthy and positive. Kent Weber and Tracy Brooks continue to shed truth on wolves and work to educate the masses on why they are an integral part of this world. I had the pleasure to meet Kent during my visit. It was wonderful to see some of the wolves react to him with excitement and love. The bond he’s formed with these animals is remarkable and humbling. To say the least.
The above photo is of a wolf who was quite shy. He has bright green eyes that are vivid and piercing. This is the wolf I have tattooed on my arm. I was so excited to be able to capture him in a few shots before he dipped into the brush again. Below is a four month old wolf. She is one of the ambassador wolves. She was hanging out in the front of the sanctuary, paying little attention to anything but her nap- even though you can tell she knows everything happening around her. Her eyes were a syrupy gold. Against her pitch black fur, they were striking and wise.
My time spent with the wolves at Mission: Wolf was remarkable. And I think that’s all I an say about it. It was touching and inspiring and educational. I had a passion for wolves my whole life, and now even more so.
If you’d like to donate to Mission: Wolf, you can do so HERE.