The wolves from Salangsdalen

If you cross the polar circle north on E6, between Bjerkvik and Andselv you will drive through the Bardudalen. About 5 miles north of Fossbakken a small road turns east into a side valley called “Salangsdalen” where you can find the „Arctic Wildlife Center“. Surrounded by beautiful landscape, this park is home exclusively of native wild animals like wolverine, lynx, polar fox, brown bear, moose and others.
Wolfscamp is part of the center and refuge of 3 european wolf packs. The european wolf is a subspecies of Canis Lupus – the gray wolf.

Wild Pack:
The alpha couple Nanok and Gaida

Salangen Pack:
Steinulv, Luna and Ylva. Brother and sisters, youngsters from Nanok a Gaida born: 2008

The „puppies“ born 2010
Luppo, Silmo and Ilja

The 3 groups are living in three different huge enclosures.
Salangen Pack is socialized that far so they tolerate humans within their natural environment. Arctic Wildlife Center provides a private photo guiding. Accompanied by two guides you are able to stay with the wolves inside the enclosure and – if they are willing – you can take pictures from eye to eye….
We didn‘t want to miss that!
Our appointment was Wednesday 4 pm – weather forecast changeable with rain in the afternoon…
Well, there was sunshine in the morning and there was sunshine in the afternoon. The weather gods were on our side – would the wolves be too?
At the entrance our two guides from Denmark were already waiting. There was a lot to know about the wolves and OUR behavior and what to do and NOT to do for example:
No food in the pocket, attach the camera (wolves are good thieves), wear a sweater or jacket just in case of….., always stay in between the guides, never step in between the wolf and his food (watch out were it is), move slowly, calm voice, never push the wolves away.
They also explained how a wolf says hello:
If the wolves approach, squat down, let them come close to get a sniff, if they think you are ok they say hello, but the way they use to do to each other: with a wolves kiss – the real thing! Don‘t think you get away without – they nibble on your mouth until you give up!
Ouff, my (our) heart went „bäng bäng bäng“ but nevertheless – let‘s go!
And there they came – out of the woods – Steinulv a wonderful strong male and Luna the lovely smart lady. They said hello as described and we were lucky to see that our guides had to go through the same procedure…..
We saw Ylva only from far away. She was not allowed to come close to us because the two „wolf girls“ just figured out their hierarchy and Luna was the stronger one. We were glad to hear that Ylva was able to stay with the pack anyway – which is not possible in every case.
Usually it takes some time until one can start taking pictures because wolves and humans have to get used to each other. I don‘t know why but we were accepted by the wolves immediately and we could start shooting. Amazing!!!
They lied down – always an eye on us, came back to say hello again, they were running around, playing around – just fun! The four of us started howling – not very „wolfish“ but enthusiastic enough that all the other wolves joined us (all 3 packs!) A guided photo shooting takes one hour. But our hour became 1 1/2 and it was time to say goodbye.
It is a strange feeling when you walk to the door accompanied by two animals who are still wild – even though they were socialized – and when they look behind you, as if they would like to follow you into the wide world…..
We didn‘t only bring home a bunch of great pictures but also a wonderful experience that will always stay in our minds.
Because we think that Arctic Wildlife Center does a lot for a better understanding and therefore hopefully a better relation between humans and wolves, the wolfscamp deserved its own article.

click on the pic