Hi, my name is Amy, and I'm a wolfaholic.
I know others like me are out there.
They’re driving cars with bumper stickers crying "Little Red
Riding Hood Lied." Their walls display dreamy paintings of wolves
that look gentler than Gandhi. My wolfaholism manifests itself in a
different way: I'm addicted to watching wolves.
started in 1997, when a U.S. District Court judge ordered the
removal of wolves brought from Canada in Yellowstone National Park
and central Idaho. I hadn't yet been to Yellowstone to see the
wolves that were turned loose there in 1995. I knew they were
thriving and afforded certain protections, so I felt no need to go.
But when Judge William Downes ordered the wolves out, my synapses
blew a fuse and the road to addiction began. It was as if
Prohibition had returned: One minute, you're sipping a smooth
Merlot; the next, the glass is snatched from your fingers.
In the case of the wolves allowed to re-colonize just a
small part of their historic range, there would be no speakeasies
or black-market habitats harboring the four-legged criminals.
Fortunately, Judge Downes stayed his order, giving the plaintiffs
and defendants time to slog through the appeal process, and me a
chance to get my bipedal body to Yellowstone, 13 hours away.
Off I went in the dead of winter, dragging my mate with
me. Addicts love company. Up before dawn, we headed to the Lamar
Valley where we’d read that a couple of wolf packs had
established territories. But though we spied trotting coyotes,
frosty buffalo and elk stomping the snow in the dim light, we saw
no wolves. We stopped the car and ventured outside in below-zero
cold. Surely, we'd hear the call of the wild, the howls of those
controversial animals. All we heard was the purring engine of an
approaching Subaru wagon. The driver slowed and rolled down his
"The Druid pack is bedded down about a mile east
near Soda Butte," said the driver, almost obscured by his parka.
"You should be able to get a good look at them — that is, if
you're interested in that sort of thing."
I waited until
he was out of sight, then dashed to the car, my legs spinning in
the air like a cartoon character. As we approached Soda Butte, we
spied a herd of cars parked along the road. Binoculars, scopes and
radio telemetry all pointed in one direction, and there were the
wolves: The Druid pack, lolling on a ridge, as snow began to fall
and daybreak lighted up the sky.
A black wolf stood up,
stretched and nuzzled a silver wolf. Soon, the entire pack was
immersed in a greeting frenzy, licking faces and wagging tails. As
a primeval chorus of howls rose with the sun, I knew I was a goner
— a slave to my addiction.
With the top dog back in
the West, the wild part of me had returned, too. There is no better
high than feeling whole, and that's the rush I get from watching
wolves. Like most wolfaholics, I learned the ropes fast. To find
wolves, find the people who've already found them. These are
usually fellow addicts posing as park rangers, graduate students or
wildlife photographers. Spare no expense on viewing devices. You
know someone's a wolf addict when he or she drives a junker, wears
torn Carhartt work clothes and sports a costly Swarovski 45x
Drop everything in your life in order to
fuel your addiction, and be warned that this will affect
relationships and most forms of employment. And finally, be ready
to share. Like smokers bumming cigarettes from each other,
"wolfies" swap sightings, coffee and hand warmers. We know there is
strength in numbers, and we might as well band together lest we be
discriminated against by non-wolfies.
Two years after
Judge Downes pushed me over the brink of addiction, the 10th
Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his decision. The wolves were
legal again. But my addiction rages on. I sneak off to Yellowstone
and hook up with the only people who understand me. I surf the
Internet for wolf-pack updates in the park and the latest
developments to downlist and delist Canus lupus
from the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Heck, I even
have plastic wolf figurines living on top of my piano.
Family and friends beg me to seek help, but what's the point? I'll
never be a recovering wolfaholic. And that's a beautiful thing.