Tag Archives: Rachel Tilseth

Coexistence Holiday: Let’s take the first path before us and howl a chorus or two together.

To hear those howls a singing away
A howl here and a howl over there
Come on, it’s lovely weather for a howl with you.

Photograph credit John E Marriott

Outside the snow is falling
And families are calling “Howl Howl”
Come on, it’s lovely weather for a howl with you.

Awoo-yip awoo-yip let’s howl
Let’s roll in the snow
We’re running in a wonderland of snow.

Awoo-yip awoo-yip it’s grand
Just nuzzling your nose
Were running along with the sounds
Of a wintry forestland.

Our thick fur coats are nice and warm
And comfy are we
We’re snuggled up together like two wolves
With the whole pack.

Let’s take the first path before us
And howl a chorus or two
Come on, it’s lovely weather for a howl with you.

Wolf Country. Photograph credit Rachel Tilseth

There’s a Birthday party at our friends Farmer Gray
It’ll be the perfect ending of a perfect day
We’ll be Howlng the songs we love to howl
Without a single stop
At the fireplace while we watch the chestnuts pop
Pop pop pop.

There’s a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy
When they pass around the blueberries and pie
It’ll nearly be like a picture print of coexistence
From a long time past

These wonderful things are the things
We remember from the first time we shared man’s fireplace
In ancient times long ago.

Have a Howling Good Holiday Season from All of us at Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin!

Poem adapted by Rachel Tilseth from the original song “Winter Wonderland” 1934 by Bregman, Vocco and Conn

WORT Radio’ Access Hour Presents: Wisconsin’s Thirty-First Wolf Awareness Week, Monday October 11th, at 7:00 PM

I’m Rachel Tilseth, author of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin inviting you to join Alexander Vaeth and myself, Monday, October 11th at 07:00 PM on WORT Radio’ Access Hour , where we will be hosting an in-depth conversation about Wisconsin’s Thirty-First Wolf Awareness Week (WAW) with special guests Adrian Wydeven; who led the Wisconsin DNR Wolf Recovery Program from 1990 through 2013, and Peter David; a wildlife biologist with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. www.wortfm.org

To commemorate Wolf Awareness Week, the Timber Wolf Alliance creates an annual poster featuring an award-winning artist’s rendering of a wolf or wolves in their natural habitat.

In 1990, Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson signed the proclamation of Wisconsin Wolf Awareness Week (WAW), a time to celebrate these important animals, by highlighting the threats to their survival, spread the word about what you can do to help wolves stay protected, and help humans learn to live alongside them.

SPECIAL GUESTS

Adrian grew up in northeast Wisconsin, and has a BS in biology and wildlife management from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (1976), and an MS in wildlife ecology from Iowa State University (1979). Photograph courtesy of Adrian Wydeven.

Special Guest Adrian Wydeven grew up in northeast Wisconsin, and has a BS in biology and wildlife management from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (1976), and an MS in wildlife ecology from Iowa State University (1979). His master’s research was on the ecology and food habitat of elk in the Wind Cave National Park, SD. He worked as a wildlife manager in Missouri and Wisconsin from 1980-1990. Adrian headed up the state gray wolf recovery and conservation program for Wisconsin from 1990 through 2013, while also working with other rare mammals and wildlife. He retired from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in 2015 after nearly 33 years. Adrian continues to be actively involved in wolf surveys and conservation through the Timber Wolf Alliance and Wisconsin Green Fire.

Peter David assists GLIFWC’s member tribes in the implementation of their off-reservation, treaty-reserved rights.

WAW is an opportunity to celebrate all we have learned about wolves and their place in the world, especially here in the Midwest. It is also a reminder of how far we have yet to go to educate those who resist an understanding of wolves that science and the traditional ecological knowledge provides.

Peter David

Special guest Peter David is a wildlife biologist with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, where he assists GLIFWC’s member tribes in the implementation of their off-reservation, treaty-reserved rights. He received his education (bachelors and masters in Wildlife Ecology) from UW-Madison, and from the tribal elders and members for whom he has worked for the last 35 years. At the Commission, he has had the opportunity to steward resources as varied as wild rice and wolves.

HOSTS

Alexander Vaeth, photograph courtesy of Alexander Vaeth.

Special guest host Alexander Vaeth of People & Wolves Talk Show. Alex is a volunteer wolf tracker with the Wisconsin DNR, and a Spanish teacher by training. He completed his graduate studies in Spanish at Middlebury’s language schools in Vermont, USA, Madrid, Spain, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. He teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and volunteers as a medical interpreter in the city’s community clinic. Alex spends nearly all his free time in the woods tracking and monitoring wildlife with remote cameras and is also keenly interested in wolf advocacy and research.

Producer & Host Rachel Tilseth is a freelance writer, fine artist, educator, and environmentalist. Tilseth has been a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Volunteer Winter Wolf Tracker since the year 2000. Tilseth worked with the Wisconsin Wolf Recovery Program as a volunteer since 1998, and as a result learned about the lives of wild gray wolves. Tilseth worked to draw attention to the plight of Gray wolves during the three years Wisconsin held wolf hunts. Rachel is founder and owner of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin. Tilseth received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education in 1992 from UW-Stout, graduating with cum laude honors.

Timber Wolf Alliance Wisconsin’s Wolf Awareness Week Events

October 19

Drawing Wolves with Artist Sarah Nelson

7:00 pm–8:30 pmOctober 20

The Art and Science of Tracking

9:00 am–10:00 amOctober 20

Drawing Wolves with Artist Sarah Nelson

7:00 pm–8:30 pmOctober 21

Citizen Science, Wolf Conservation, and Coexistence

6:15 pm–8:15 pmOctober 23

Virtual Wolf Ecology Workshop

9:00 am–4:30 pm

Tune in on Monday, October 11th at 07:00 PM on WORT Radio’ Access Hour, where we will be hosting an in-depth conversation about Wisconsin’s Thirty-First Wolf Awareness Week (WAW) with special guests Adrian Wydeven; who led the Wisconsin DNR Wolf Recovery Program from 1990 through 2013, and Peter David; a wildlife biologist with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. www.wortfm.org

A Wolf in Douglas County Wisconsin

This is my story of White Eyes, a Wisconsin grey wolf, Alpha Wolf 447.

A grey wolf in Wisconsin. Photograph credit Snapshot Wisconsin.

I believe that nothing happens by mistake. When I became a volunteer Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Winter Wolf tracker in the year 2000 I had no idea of the history behind the tracking block I chose. The tracking block I chose was in Douglas county and that’s where Wisconsin’s Wolf recovery program got its start. It was all due to a young University of Wisconsin Stevens Point student. The following is from their book, Keeper of the Wolves by Richard P. Thiel.

It was 1978, and there had been no resident timber wolves in Wisconsin for twenty years. Still, packs were active in neighboring Minnesota, and there was the occasional rumor from Wisconsin’s northwestern counties of wolf sign or sightings. Had wolves returned on their own to Wisconsin? Dick Thiel, then a college student with a passion for wolves, was determined to find out. Thus begins Keepers of the Wolves, Thiel’s tale of his ten years at the center of efforts to track and protect the recovery of wolves in Northern Wisconsin. Keeper of the Wolves by Richard P Thiel

Like I said, nothing happens by mistake, and when I began tracking a pack of grey wolves in Douglas county Wisconsin, I had no idea of the history behind that county.

I was assigned a tracking block in the year 2000 that had a new alpha female. I set to explore this new territory and spent summers scouting and winters surveying thier tracks. I first caught sight of this new alpha female as she crossed the road in front of me. She stopped in the ditch, looked straight at me, and I saw those green eyes all framed in white fur. I named her White Eyes, and thus began the relationship between a wolf tracker and a wolf.

My drawing of White Eyes became Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin’s logo. 

Part of monitoring wolves during Wisconsin’s wolf recovery days was conducting wolf howl surveys during summer and fall. Howl surveys were used to find out if a pack had puppies or not. While conducting these howl surveys that first summer I was favored with a howl from the entire wolf family. Then, one evening was startled by a lone wolf howling right next to me. On another evening I could see two wolf silhouettes in the moonlight howling back at me.

Douglas county grey wolf track in mud 2018. Photograph credit Rachel Tilseth

White Eyes’s pack only had around five family members at a time, that’s because it was a small territory, around 24 square miles. Every adult member was needed for the hunt, and the puppies were stashed in a brushy area for safe keeping while the rest of the family was off hunting.
One warm July summer night in 2002, I was about to find out that a wolf’s trust could be broken during a howl survey. I was on a howl survey that night when White Eyes stashed her two pups, then headed off to hunt. That night on my first howl, and to my surprise & delight, White Eyes’ two pups responded back to me. I also heard the adults howling a mile or so away.

Douglas county Wisconsin. Photograph credit Rachel Tilseth

Right before my eyes stood two wolf pups bathed in full moonlight. One pup was light in color, and the other was dark in color. One wolf pup was obviously an alpha, and began making the defensive bark howl call. They were around three to four months old, and were still very vulnerable. I dared not linger, because that could bring danger to the pups. However, I did name them Salt and Pepper, then I left the area.


The following summer I went about the business of conducting howl surveys, but something changed. I could see the signs the family left behind, such as scat and a track or two left in mud. However, I wasn’t able to get a peep out of “White Eyes” or any of her pack members. But finally in desperation one night I asked my son Jacob to try a howl, and the wolves responded. He was able to get several of White Eyes’s family to respond back to his howl. 

Right then and there I realized that a wolf’s trust could be broken. I spent 2 years building a relationship with White Eyes, and in one summer lost that trust, because I got too close to her pups. All of this made me realize that I was a tolerated human observer, but not when it came to wolf pups. In other words don’t mess with a wolf family’s pups.

It took another year before the trust was regained. I was allowed to hear the family howls again. I was able to hear them howl just before sunset, and while they were hunting at midnight. As long as I learned to steer clear of White Eyes’s pups. 

She was a very tenacious Alpha. She defended her family year after year from bear hunters who ran their dogs through where she kept her pups.

This story was written in loving memory of “White Eyes” who died in 2009 after being hit by a vehicle. She leaves a lasting legacy as one of the “Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin” named to bring awareness to the lives of grey wolves in Wisconsin.

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