I have had an encounter with a wolf – perhaps 100m distant, and no reaction to my presence. I have also watched a wolf from the safety of a bear hide. I have even listened to the eery sound of a wolf howl, both within an English zoo (late at night) and more excitingly from all around when trying to see wolves on the edge of the Sierra de Culebra in Spain. Annoyingly, although our guides howl was answered from 4 different locations, on that occasion the wolf did not allow us to see them at all.
In France, with a wolf population (as of 2021) of about 580, unless you know what you are doing, or are incredibly lucky you are unlikely to encounter a wolf. Indeed even wildlife guides working in nature reserves do not normally see wolves every day. Here I will recount an encounter someone had in France.
With this encounter, the person was staying in a cabin on the edge of the Vercors national park in south east France. From his description I will look to visit the area next time I an in France- perhaps if I am lucky then there will be a story of my own to add int eh future. Anyway, he had climbed a nearby mountain for some skiing – due to the covid outbreak, the facilities were closed and the family had the place to themselves. His two boys, were determined to have a downhill race immediately – make use of the three hour climb up, but he paused at the top to enjoy it. As he started his descent he realized that he was not alone. A large grey wolf was loping down the hill alongside him – no more than 20m away.
As with my feelings on multiple occasions, the encounter was so close that even the click of a camera could set of an unpleasant reaction. As such the man in question did not get any pictures, instead he stayed still as the wolf disappeared.
As with my encounters with wolves, the author talks about how huge the animal was. Wolves on the whole make dogs look small. With bigger heads and far thicker necks, wolves are impressive animals.
The only close encounter I have had while on foot was a good 60m away in Sweden. While this is close enough to enjoy, it does not require the wolf to respond, and so it is quite a different thing.
What is clear, is that while a wolf encounter is likely to always make humans react, these sort of encounters will become more commonplace – at least for those of us who spend time in the wilder parts of the planet. For me, these brief glimpses is what it is all about.
I hope to travel to Spain some time in the next month. I hope to see a wolf or a few as well as a bear – if I manage to get good sightings I will make a video, but either way I am sure that you will find out about it.