Friday, July 29, 2011

The Gray Wolves of Wolf Hollow

Z Soffron with one of the wolves of Wolf Hollow
The North American Gray Wolf has been protected by the Endangered Species Act since shortly after the law was passed in 1973. But now, in an unprecedented move, Congress has delisted the Gray Wolf in Idaho, Montana and parts of three other states. The congressional rider, introduced last April as part of a budget bill, is now being challenged in a Missoula, Montana courtroom. Several environmental groups (The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, The Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Clearwater, and WildEarth Guardians) have banded together to fight the delisting, claiming that Congress violated the U.S. Constitution's separation of powers doctrine when it ordered the wolf delisted and blocked future court review of that decision. Wolf hunting seasons have been authorized for this fall and the plan, at this moment, according to a televised news report here in Idaho last night, is to reduce the population -- currently estimated at 1,700 -- to 150.

In Episode 14 of ON THE ROAD WITH MAC AND MOLLY, I speak with Joni Soffron. In 1988, Joni and her husband Paul founded the Ipswich, Massachusetts-based North American Wolf Foundation and Wolf Hollow with the mission of preserving the wolf in the wild through education and exposure. Paul died a few years ago but Joni and son Z have continued this work. 

We’ll hear from Joni about life at Wolf Hollow where, on this multi-acre site abutting marshland, visitors can meet the resident wolves – at close hand -- and observe how a wolf pack functions. Wolves are extraordinarily social creatures and, as we’ll learn in this program, their pack dynamics are fascinating. In many ways, wolf pack organization parallels that of a human family. Wolves are devoted to their young and five new puppies (three males and two females) have recently been added to the Wolf Hollow mix. We’ll hear how the pups are settling in, how wolves are faring in the wild, and how we can help support these magnificent creatures.

Photos provided by Wolf Hollow.

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