Our Labrador wolf

The Labradorian - - Editorial - Gary Shaw

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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