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Gary Shaw: Our Labrador wolf

Walk on the Wild Side
Walk on the Wild Side - SaltWire Network

LABRADOR CITY, N.L.

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

CANADA

We all know the reputation that has followed the wolf, no matter where, or exactly what subspecies, throughout history.

From the earliest times of recorded history and right on through to the writings of children’s stories, the wolf has been portrayed as the ‘big bad wolf.’

Animated pictures and tales of the antics of the wolf have given it a reputation that sees it as enemy number one, all around the world. They have certainly been the victims of bad press, and although they have earned a bit of it with livestock and the odd pet encounter, a large part of the time they are not the full-time villains that they are portrayed as.

In a fair analysis of the facts, our Labrador wolf is a regular part of the animal kingdom that Mother Nature has given us in Labrador. They are a component of the bigger picture that creates the balance within the creatures which the wilds of Labrador has been blessed with.

Our Labrador wolf has been determined, through science, to be a subspecies of the gray wolf from Labrador and northern Quebec. They can range in colour from dark gray — almost black in some cases — all the way through lighter gray to almost white in color. Mature males can be regularly found in the 65-70 pound range, with a few individuals exceeding this weight significantly.

Although there will be the odd lone wolf observed, the majority of the time, these animals are pack driven with a distinct social and pecking order. They live together, travel together, hunt together and share in the duties of raising their young.

These animals are true survivors in the wilds of Labrador under very harsh conditions. Our long, cold winters, with extreme temperatures and deep snow, as well as the constant torment of flies during the summer months is the norm for them in Labrador.

They navigate the land in search of food, a constant and all consuming effort for them every day. Their search for food sees them travel great distances to certain areas that provide the necessary food for them at certain times of the year.

There is no opportunity for a meal that is overlooked, nothing is off limits. When the circumstances are right, a moose or certainly caribou back in the days of plenty of the caribou herd, through their cunning behavior and stamina, these big animals will be taken by wolves.

That being said, a large part of their meat diet is provide by hunting efforts for rabbits, mice, or any other small animal they can catch. They have even been seen in the spring in shallow brooks catching and eating suckers.

They also will feed on plant growth; grasses and berries are not at all off limits during the summer and fall months.

They have very few encounters with other animals that pose a threat to them. Man has trapped and snared wolves for their valuable pelts since before the arrival of the Europeans to the western world.

There are many folks among us who haven’t even seen one of our wolves in the wild. For those of us who have, it’s a magical experience to know that they live among us and are so elusive.

Whether or not you are a fan of the Labrador wolf, you have to give them full marks as a true survivor in the natural world in Labrador. They have been hunted and trapped for generations and have survived the challenges of the harshness of our big land. They are admired by some and hated by others, yet they have managed to survive and thrive in a land that is about as unforgiving as you can get. In spite of all the obstacles, they are still here, living and continuing to survive well, in an ever-changing world.

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