After an evening tour and introduction of the wolves living at the St. Francis Wolf Sanctuary, we enjoyed a campfire with hot dogs and smores, and listened to stories of these and other wolves, along with a rather lengthy Q and A thanks to my 11-year-old. As the last bit of light was draining from the sky, the 12 wolves were gently encouraged to howl, and slowly the night around us was filled with the long lost sound of these incredible animals.
The staff, headed by Richard one of the co-curators of the Sanctuary, was incredibly knowledgeable not just of these wolves, or the plight of wolves in the United States as well as around the world, but of other animals as well.
During the tour, we were told the stories of each of the animals that call St. Francis home, and how they came to live at the sanctuary.
I’m not sure what I expected when we planned our tour and camp out at the St. Francis Wolf Sanctuary, which offers a monthly Howl Night and Camp With the Wolves. In fact, it took me a little time there to process the entire project and the sanctuary’s work, which is to provide a life-long home to these amazing wolf-dogs, who would otherwise be euthanized.
Because these animals don’t exist to further the genetic pool, or for research, as you might find at a zoo. They have solely been bred as pets for probably well-minded but uninformed people who think it would be “fun” to own a wolf-dog, an animals which is 51% or more wolf, then realizes that they should have done their research, because these animals are not pets.
While the sanctuary offers day time tours, we were there for the monthly Howl Night, which includes hot dogs and smores around a campfire, with additional Q and A, and then a chance to hear the wolves howl.
It was quickly apparent to me that I have never heard wolves howl in the wild. It sounded exactly like our mixed husky when an ambulance drives by, except magnified by 12. It was ethereal.
The tour was comprised of both visitors just for the Howl Night, and a few of us brave souls who had come to also Camp With the Wolves. Of course, the wolves were locked away in their enclosures, safely away from us. But it was thrilling just to know they were there. In the morning, as we enjoyed breakfast they delighted us in another round of howls!
It’s important to know that at no time on tours are you allowed to touch the wolves.
The Big Move
July 2020 the St. Francis Wolf Sanctuary moves from it’s home in Montgomery to a new, larger location in Navasota.
Wolves in Texas
Historically, Texas was once the home of both the wide-spread Gray Wolves and the more southeastern red wolves, but they are completely gone now, with the last of them disappearing in the 1970’s. While other states, such as New Mexico and Arizona have attempted to reestablish them, no such effort has taken place in Texas. I always get excited when I hear of a sighting, but they always turn out to be either coyotes or gray foxes!
The Red Wolf was declared extinct in the wild in the 1980’s, although some of the descendants are in North Carolina in an attempt to save the species, and in 2019 it was determined that there was significant Red Wolf DNA in the Galveston Island coyotes, which would make them a hybrid. More research is being done.
So, that yapping that you hear on a moon-filled night.. it’s all coyotes, which it turns out don’t even howl at all.
St. Francis Wolf Sanctuary
6731 Pavlock Rd., Navasota
Click HERE to visit their website.
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