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Source Paddle and Howl: Canoe and Watch Wolves in Northern Minnesota
Jun 08, 2016, Travel Tips and Trips by Candyce H. Stapen
Paddle and howl this summer on a canoe trip through Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Sharing a similar topography of cliffs, glacier carved lakes, and rocky shores dotted with tall pine trees, the best way to navigate both regions is following water trails. While Voyageurs National Park and BWCAW allow motorized boats, paddling canoes and kayaks is the best way to experience both regions. Watery adventures in both areas give you with classic North Country scenery and a chance to see wolves in the wild. To learn more about wolves, visit the International Wolf Center in Ely, MN, one of the BWCAW gateways.
Voyageurs National Park, , 11 miles east of International Falls (an entry point to Canada), stretches for 55 miles along the US border with Canada. One of the US’s premier water‑based parks, Voyageurs contains 84,000 acres of water, 655 miles of undeveloped shoreline, and some 500 islands. The park takes its name from the 18th and 19th century French Canadian fur traders who once paddled these routes transporting goods, soldiers, and explorers through the scenic waters. Along with canoers and kayakers, the park draws lots of motorboats. Quiet isn’t exactly the norm but the woodland and lake views are soothing.
Voyageurs is one of the best mainland parks for spotting bald eagles and active wolf packs. Some popular programs are the naturalist‑guided boat trips on Kabetogama Lake and Rainy Lake, some of which are in a 26‑foot replica of a North Canoe with a ranger (reserve ahead). On these trips you may spot eagles’ nests, beaver dams, and possibly moose along the shore or in the lake.
To stretch your legs, go hiking. Landlubbers with little kids should try the 1.7‑mile, spruce-lined Oberholtzer Trail, the only trail accessible by car from the Rainy Lake visitor center. The heartier can tackle the four‑mile Locator Lake Trail reached by a six‑mile boat trip.
The BWCAW contains 1,200 miles of canoe routes and stretches for 150 miles along the border with Canada. On this back-to-basics trip you paddle along chains of lakes portaging when necessary and camping if staying overnight. If you want a guided trip or prefer to start your paddle trip in the BWCAW, then head to Ely, MN. Near the Superior National Forest, Ely’s nickname is “the Canoe Capital of the World.” Boundary Waters Outfitters, among several in town, rents canoes, provides complete and partial packages of gear, and offers canoe trips with a guide. The guide will wake you with coffee, teach you how to improve your strokes, and find you the best places to fish.
To learn more about wolves and see the resident pack, visit Ely’s International Wolf Center, an educational facility devoted to informing visitors about these misunderstood creatures. Kids love observing the resident pack and discovering how to track the critters. The latest additions to the center are two Arctic wolf pups. Check the Wolf Center’s events for seminars—learn why wolves howl—and at select times go out in the woods to distant pack and find out if they howl back at you. Source
Living in the north woods near wild animals can be a wonderful experience. There is nothing that can match sighting a
Life in the Northwoods photography by Michael Crowley
bobcat with kits, a doe with a new fawn, snowy owls, bear, swans, and porcupines. If you have chosen to live in a north woods rural area, here are a few tips for living along side wildlife or better yet, methods for coexisting with your wild neighbors. After all, these wild creatures you have chosen to live among were here first. Living along side wildlife requires respecting their habitat and teaching them how to respect yours as well.
There are non lethal methods that north wood’s residents can use to deter wild animals..
Keeping your pets safe.
First of all, do not leave pets or their food outside. Leaving pets and their food outside will attract wild animals. Keep your pets leashed or in a fenced area while out-of-doors, Do not leave pets unattended out-of-doors for long periods of time.
Don’t feed wildlife.
Industrious wild bear (photographer unknown)
Wildlife can fend for themselves and know where to find their own food. Do you need to feed wild birds? Why do you feed wild birds? Bird feeders are for humans more than wild birds. Humans feed wild birds for the pleasure of viewing them. But these viewing backyard bird feeders attract more than wild birds. Wild bears enjoy an easy meal off of a backyard bird feeder. Deer, raccoon, and squirrel will also find the backyard bird feeder tempting. Feeding wild birds can result in wild animals becoming habituated to humans. When wild animals become habituated to humans it can have disastrous effects. Imagine stepping outside to feed the birds and you encounter a sow with cubs. Everyone knows how this encounter could turn out.
Wild animals are attracted to garbage and gardens.
it is recommended to keep your garbage out of sight and smell of wild animals.. keep your garbage cans in a locked bear proof shed. If you have a garden just fence it in or even use an electrical fence. Even garden compost will attract wild animals.
What to do when you encounter wild animals in your backyard.
Assuming you have done all of the above methods to keep wild animals away from your home and family. The next step is to teach wild animals, bear, coyote, bobcat, cougar, and wolves to fear you, Wild animals have a natural fear of humans. If you live where these wild animals do, then teach them to fear you. This is the best way to keep them out of your backyard.
Photograph of a wild coyote by Ron Niebrugge
Always keep a safe distance between you and any wild animal that has wondered onto your property. Use a loud device as a deterrent, such as a blow-horn, or fire crackers to scare these unwanted intruders away. Never throw these devices at or on the animal. The idea is to deter not to harm them.
Another wild animal deterrent called hazing which will teach them to fear you. Again, it is recommended to keep a safe distance away from any wild animal you encounter. Hazing method involves making yourself larger than the wild animal by waving your arms and shouting at the wild animal saying, “go away coyote!”
Other methods of hazing you can use are pepper sprays and a blow-horn is a very good deterrent to keep on hand. You may need to use these deterrents several times to make the unwanted wild animal get the message. Wild animals have a natural fear of humans and you may need to remind them of this natural fear.
There may be times when a wild animal could be dangerous. If the wild animals appears skinny and unhealthy or stumbles this could be a sign of Rabies. In this case stay away from the wild animal. Call local law enforcement. While you wait for them to arrive keep tabs on the whereabouts of the infected animals from a safe distance.
In summary, wild animals have a natural fear of humans. Living along side of wildlife requires keeping space between their habitat and yours. In other words, educate yourself on how to safely live with your wild neighbors.
Feature photograph is by Michael Crowley of Life in the Northwoods