Wolf and bison relax at -40C in Manitoba

Sometimes, things happen to be perfectly aligned.   Today, it was absolutely beautiful out with no hint of the surprise wildlife sighting that you often wish for – seeing a wolf in the park.  We had bright intense sunshine with azure blue skies that is so typical of a day in Manitoba between December and February.  I was out looking for wildlife with colleagues Jennifer Gustafson and Brett Smith from Riding Mountain National Park.  Parked and in conversation, Brett gestured towards an animal in the distance.

As we watched, it became obvious that this was a sighting that is all too rare in the park.  A grey or timber wolf loping along on the frozen surface of a pond, alert, looking around, stopping as nearby ravens called and then sniffing the surface of the snow for quite some time.  Finally, he moved out across the lake in front of us, as we stayed motionless in our vehicle slightly hidden behind cattails.

Tips for identifying a wolf, based on what you notice in this video:

  • The slow, loping gait
  • The long legs in proportion to the body mass
  • The overall grey colour on the back in contrast to the white legs
  • The grey face
  • The large paws – noticeable as it walks

When it is -40C, everything is noticeably different.  From the breath that freezes into moisture on my beard, to the bright sunlight reflected off the snow surface, to the squeaky sound of snow underfoot from the bison that leaves our presence.

I think that this is one of the reasons that our Earth Rhythms team loves to provide short outdoor experiences in the winter months – they are so amazingly full of sunlight, or beautiful night skies; we hear things that are so different; you know that you are alive, and when you return to the spa or your dinner meal, you feel very comfortable and somehow, “right with the world”.

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