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NY: Westchester Center Seeks to ‘Demystify’ Wolves

The Wolf Conservation Center holds educational sessions, workshops for locals to learn about wolves.

By Tom Auchterlonie

If your first experience with wolves came from fairy tales such a Little Red Riding Hood or The Three Little Pigs, chances are you were given an impression that they are to be reviled or feared. However, if you stop by the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, you will learn fact from fiction.

Alex Spitzer, an educator at the center, explained that during their workshops for the public—they are held on weekends—a talk at the beginning is held to try and “demystify wolves” from the stories.

By demystifying, Spitzer means that there is a focus on the “real characteristics of the wolf.” For example, he notes, wolves are afraid of humans, rather than seeing them as an opportunity for food. They also exhibit behaviors in common with domesticated dog, which they are related to. Such examples include scent rolling, where they roll in smells, and a mix of barking and howling to warn their packs about danger.

The talks are then followed by hikes at the hilly center, where people can walk by enclosures and meet the wolves. The center holds 23 wolves, Spitzer said, three of which are “socialized,” meaning they were raised with human familiarity and do not have the same fear that others have. Most of the center’s wolves come from endangered varieties, such as the Mexican Gray Wolf and the Red Wolf, and are under what are called “survival species plans.”

As the weeks pass and summer draws near, the center will be ramping up its programs. This coming week, when public schools next door in Connecticut are on spring breaks, there will be weekday activities. For the summer, there will be a camp program for kids. And next weekend, there will be a double dose of wildlife, as a guest exhibit for raptor birds will make an appearance, in addition to the routine workshop.

Folks can also see the wolves in real time, through by watching the center’s live webcams.

The Wolf Conservation Center is located at 7 Buck Run in South Salem.