Call of the Wild
More than a century ago, when they roamed the forests of the Garden State, wolf packs would howl, proclaiming their sovereignty. Those bone-chilling yowls are yesteryear’s soundtrack—except at the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia, Warren County.
Founded by wildlife photographer Dan Bacon and his wife, Pam, the Lakota Wolf Preserve is home to 26 timber, tundra, and Arctic wolves, most of which have been adopted from other preserves and raised from infancy. “We went out to a photography place in Montana and took pictures of the wolves,” says Pam. Dan didn’t like the way the animals were kept. “The only time they were able to run around was when people came to take photos,” he says. “After that, it was right back in the cages.”
The Bacons opened the first incarnation of the preserve in Colorado in 1998, but after four years they decided to bring the animals east. They built a new preserve on ten acres in the scenic hills of Columbia’s Taylor Campground, naming it Lakota (a Sioux name) after one of their first wolves. Today, the preserve is the only place of its size on the East Coast where Canis lupus can be seen in a natural setting.
Twice daily guided tours known as “wolf watches” begin with a short hike (or bus ride) to the preserve’s four compounds, each roughly the size of a football field. Two sets of chain-link fence keep visitors and wolves at a safe distance, though photographers can schedule private, up-close sessions at viewing portals inside the first fence.
The Bacons’ partner, Jim Stein, starts with an informative talk. Stein is intimately familiar with each animal’s unique personality; he can even howl convincingly enough to elicit a forest-wide response. Visitors this fall will meet the five newly adopted timber and Arctic pups, who have already been warmly welcomed into their packs.
More Natural Wonders:
54th Annual Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic
More than 1,000 anglers have participated in the six-week fall tournament every year since 1955, weighing in striped bass and bluefish to compete for thousands of dollars of tournament-sponsored prizes. The tournament runs from October 11 through November 23. Long Beach Island (609-494-7211; lbift.com).
State Line Hawk Watch
Catch the migratory parade above the Palisades as an array of raptors head south. Among the species you might spot in October: osprey, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and a host of hawks. The greatest number of birds are expected in the days immediately after a cold front. Palisades Interstate Park, Alpine (201-768-1360; njpalisades.org/hawks.htm)
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