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Wildlife

Q&A with Peter Schleifenbaum

The owner of Haliburton Forest talks wolves

  • Jun 11, 2015
  • 370 words
  • 2 minutes
Wolf photo Expand Image
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What was running through your head when you found the hole in the sanctuary’s fence?
We have had reports of our wolves escaping several times per year; so far, they were just false alarms, and I expected this one to be as well. Once I stood in front of the hole in both fences, reality sank in and my first thought was to assess how many wolves had actually escaped already. So immediately after patching the inside hole, we went about to search the dark for any wolves, which were still inside.

What sort of reaction have you and/or the sanctuary received since the article was released in the January/February issue of the magazine?
Reaction to the recent article in Canadian Geographic has been very positive. The surprising fact is how many people were not even aware of the criminal release in 2013, despite what we felt was very broad media coverage of the events at that time and over several months.

What is it about wolves that draws you in and keeps you dedicated?
Wolves are the ultimate symbol of wilderness, toughness, cunning, but also social cooperation. I think they appeal to humans on several levels and especially if you have a connection with dogs, wolves as the ancestors strike a chord with you.

What do you think is the most important thing for people to understand about wolves?
Wolves, wherever they appear, are a very important part of the overall ecology. They perform important functions, many of which we are only now becoming aware of and even though subtle, may have significant impacts on an entire ecosystem, including its physical geography.

What are the biggest challenges involved with wolf research?
To obtain data without interfering in the day-to-day life of a pack.

What are your wolf-related plans for the future?
We will continue to operate the Wolf centre, providing awareness and education about the wolf and its world.

If someone wants to help wolves, what do you tell them?
We all collectively need to better understand the wolf and the role it plays within its environment. That takes research, which requires funding. Other than that, wolves don’t need money – they need our understanding!

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