The howl of young wolves. The voices are still pretty weak but wolves anyway.
Recording and photos: Tarmo Mikussaar
Posted by the Animal of the Year team, 24.09.2016
It was a dark August night. The stars shone in the sky. On one of my trips I stayed for the night in the forest. Around midnight wolf cubs on the bog islet started howling and yelping. I had suspected since spring that an old wolf pair could be around here with cubs and now confirmation came. The next day I brought along a recorder and some dog food. I hoped that I would be able to record the howling and by putting out some dog crisps I could train the young animals to pass this one point. To start with everything went smoothly. I could record the howling and the cubs came several evenings to the pot to check it.
One night I decided to imitate a wolf howl. The cubs rushed towards me. Probably they thought that an adult was on the way to them with some food. Soon the low-pitched growl of an adult wolf sounded somewhat further away and the cubs turned to him. The adult wolf growled for a long time. When a cub tried to call too it was ordered to keep its mouth shut and to me it was made clear in wolf language that I was not welcome there. I packed my things and marched off home but the idea that at least the cubs believed me to be a breed brother was exciting.
A few days after that the wolves disappeared totally for a couple of weeks. They were not seen on the trail camera nor did they leave any tracks. The forest was silent. But soon a cub again started to come sniffing for dog crunchies and howling sounded again from the bog islet.
At the end of December the cubs are already large enough to run with the adults and join them on quite long hunting trips. If however the cubs should be left behind the adults they turn back to their birth place. This may be the reason why there was silence meanwhile. The more time passes the stronger the cubs become and the more seldom they come back here on their own. But the bog islet will remain the centre of the wolf pack world where they turn back every now and then and howl their voices clear.