There's a She Wolf in the Closest
First stop this morning (after the obligatory Tim's for a cuppa!) was at a wolf sanctuary. This proved to be really interesting as we got to learn about how different areas of both the US and Canada deal with animals it considers to be problems. The main aim of the sanctuary is to teach people about how import wolves are to society and not the big bad beast that they are often portrayed as in stories. There are currently 6 wolves at the sanctuary and they have all been here since they were at oldest 21 days. This has meant that they have come to regard their human carers as Mum & Dad, allowing them to be taken out and walked similar to dogs.
Wolves are a natural part of the environment as they help to contribute to the eco-system. They mainly eat hoofed animals such as moose, elk, caribou & deer. When the US Government were trying to attract more visitors to Yellowstone National Park they decided to make it more appealing they would get rid of the wolves. Overtime this created what the tourists wanted more chances to see pretty animals however slowly but surely behind the scenes a different story was unravelling. Because more and more caribou were thriving, this meant less available prey for them to eat, which meant more of the next species down etc. Overtime this actually meant the whole park was being destroyed as old trees were not being cut down by beavers etc. After about 50 years of this happening the scientists realised what was happening and a controlled number of wolves were bought in and the park is recovering. Looks like somewhere I'll have to visit on my next trip to see whether this is true!
The other area of interest to me was around the control of bears. Whilst in the Rockies there was a lot of information about "How to be Bear Aware" so you know what to do if you come face to face with one! However what is happening is bears are coming into human areas due to food being readily available for them (eg the one we saw in Vancouver at the rubbish bins). A number of techniques are used to identify and track the bear but ultimately if he keeps coming close to humans he is considered a problem bear and normally put down. The wolf sanctuary is trying to promote the use of wolf dogs in this situation meaning that when a bear is spotted the dogs are let out and the bear moves back to safe ground. By only letting the dogs go a certain distance away from the human area this teaches the bear where is safe and where is not. In areas where this has been used this has resulted in a significant drop in bears either having to be put down or killed on the roads.
After the wolf sanctuary we carried on towards Kelowna with some stops at a Rainforest and Skunk Cabbage Trail - fortunately the smell wasn't too bad as it wasn't in season! We also got to see Mount Revelstoke before arriving at a local winery for a few samples and heading into Kelowna. Kelowna is a fairly small town famous typically for its wineries and sailing - there were several impressive boats in the harbour. It was then out to dinner for a final time as a group.
The following day was a long drive to Seattle, an eventless boarder crossing (hurrah!) and tough goodbyes to everyone. I was able to go out with Amy & Natalie for an evening of jazz (get me!) and some "Irish" music (it had a fiddle accompanying it!) before the final goodbyes. Overall I had a brilliant time on my trip although a little fastpaced was an excellent introduction to the Rockies and I can't wait to come back again to go skiing. Anyone want to come with me?