Grey wolf visits Brasher Falls as part of Tri-Town Summer Festival

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BRASHER FALLS — Do you have a dog in your home? If so, you’re living with a wolf.

“All domestic dogs are genetically grey wolves,” said Steve Hall from the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge, about three miles from Whiteface Mountain.

Mr. Hall brought one of the refuge’s grey wolves, 3-year-old Kiska, to Brasher Falls on Friday afternoon for a presentation about wolves. Kiska’s visit to the Tri-Town Arena was one of the activities scheduled as part of this year’s Tri-Town Summer Festival.

He said Kiska, who weighs 75 pounds, is the “runt of the pack” when compared to her two male companions at the refuge, a 9-year-old who weighs 120 pounds and a 7-year-old who weighs 110 pounds. Kiska was the only survivor from a litter of five pups.

Mr. Hall said wolves like Kiska get a bad rap.

“Wolves are either tame or they’re frightened of people. There’s no in between. The minute they see you, off they go,” he said.

That’s why, when he watched the Liam Neeson movie, “The Grey,” he couldn’t believe what he was seeing — survivors of a plane crash in the Yukon being chased and killed by grey wolves throughout the movie.

“I was so angry when I saw the movie I wrote him a registered letter,” Mr. Hall said, noting he has never had any problem with wolves in his 40 years of working with them.

He said wolves have killed two people in North America in the last 100 years.

“Wolves are family animals. They lead short, dangerous lives because of the animals they go after,” he said.

Mr. Hall said the most dangerous animal to humans is actually the deer, because of the number of accidents they’ve been involved in with vehicles.

“We don’t need a shorter hunting season. We need a longer hunting season,” he said.

Deer that are killed in the roadway actually serve a purpose for the wolves at the refuge — it’s their meal, he said.

Wolves have an important role in nature, according to Mr. Hall. He said, as keystone predators, one of their jobs is to control other animals. But when larger animals like moose, elks and bison are involved, it’s usually a bad thing for the wolf, he said.

“They’re 10 to 20 times larger. As a result, the wolves have a dangerous job in nature,” Mr. Hall said.

And sometimes the food just isn’t there.

“The number one killer of wildlife in nature is starvation. Nature is a very, very difficult place to make a living,” he said.

Food is critical for wolves year-round.

“Wolves don’t hibernate. They face winter,” Mr. Hall said.

And, when they leave their home and venture off on their own for the first time, it’s a dangerous challenge, he said.

In addition to Kiska, Alaina Goodrich had a display of some smaller creatures, ranging from a spider and cockroaches to snakes and turtles.

“All of these animals live at SUNY Potsdam. I went to SUNY Potsdam,” Ms. Goodrich said.

As she brought some of them out of their cages so others could get a close-up look, she explained the background of each one. For instance, as she held one of the snakes and allowed visitors to touch it, she said, “If he does get stressed out, he will puff up his neck area. People think snakes are slimy, but they’re not.”

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