California Wolf Center Photo Tour | Julian, CA | Wolf Photography
I love, love, love wolves. I am fascinated by them. They are such beautiful and often misunderstood creatures. They truly are not the “big, bad wolves” of our childhood stories. Wolves are curious but wary of people and really don’t want much to do with us. I want the world to know the true story of these beings and the best way I can to do that is to support The California Wolf Center, an organization dedicated to educating the public and the recovery of wolves in the wild.
A few months ago, my mom and I (my mom loves wolves, too) woke up before the sun and headed up to Julian (about 1.5 hours from our home in San Diego) for an early-morning photo tour. We were welcomed to the Wolf Center by one of the volunteers. I gathered my arsenal of camera gear and we headed into the main Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf enclosure. I wish I could remember how many wolves were in it — somewhere between five and 10. Stepping inside was such a rush. These wolves are somewhat used to people but they are by no means domesticated. Most of the wolves came into view to check us out but quickly disappeared. We walked along the fence line and found a spot where I was happy with the backgrounds and the light.
The wolves checked us out a bit but quickly became bored. To keep the wolves’ interest, our tour guide broke open a can of wet dog food and tossed small chunks 40 to 50 feet away from us. The wolves loved it! I loved it, too; I was able to capture photos of the wolves as they moved all around me. We all had to stay as still as possible; a quick movement would scare the wolves and they would move away. That worked in our favor at times, though. Sometimes they would get a little too close so all we had to do was move a little and they would run back.
After the Rocky Mountain Gray Wolves, we headed into the Mexican Gray Wolf enclosure. The three Mexican Grays are extremely skittish. They want absolutely nothing to do with people. The Wolf Center participates in the recovery efforts of Mexican Gray Wolves in the wild and therefore, their Mexican Wolves are potential release candidates. Because of this, it’s important to keep the wolves with a healthy fear of humans and never feed them anything other than what they’d eat in nature. They don’t get dog food, beef, pork, chicken or any livestock. They are only fed their natural prey, such as deer.
It is truly magical being inside the enclosures with these creatures. Knowing that I was only a few short feet away from a real wolf is pretty incredible. To see their movements and mannerisms, to look into their golden eyes, to make a connection with a wild predator… there’s just nothing quite like it and I can’t wait until I can go back!
All the photos you see below are the Rocky Mountain Gray Wolves except the last photo (bottom-middle if you are viewing in a computer browser), which is one of the Mexican Gray Wolves.