Elk, Wild Turkeys, and Wolves

Thank you to all who prayed for the retreat at Maggie Valley. It seemed to go well. I thought the men and women who participated were exceptionally wonderful!  They really inspired me! And I thoroughly enjoyed the wildlife I saw. Let me tell you about three kinds: elk, wild turkeys, and wolves. 

Although I didn’t see Mr. Elk #67 this year, I did see 13 other elk in all! Some had ear tags (#104, #138, for example), but several of them did not. Sister Fran said that no ear tag means they were born in the area of the mountains where we were–and not in the valley where the elk were first introduced. I’m happy to report that the elk look very healthy (to my untrained eye): beautiful coats, healthy body weight, great-looking antlers on the males, and two of the young ones we saw were frolicking around with each other until their mothers ordered them into the tall grass to sit and (probably) hide from us. (They were obedient children!)

We also saw some wild turkeys as we drove up into the mountains. I know, I know, turkeys aren’t as exciting to see as the elk, but (after all) they are God’s creatures too. The turkeys were more elusive than the elk. The elk just stood around and grazed as we sat in our cars and watched them and snapped pictures. But the turkeys proved more camera shy and scurried into the woods at our approach.

Then there were the wolves. One evening, Rob (aka “The Wolf Man”) stopped by to show us two of his wolves: a white one and a black and gray one, both females. For two hours Rob and Robert (a retired park ranger) spoke to us about wolves while they walked around with the wolves on leashes. It was fascinating. Rob believes wolves suffer from a “bad press.” Remember “Little Red Riding Hood”? It’s Rob’s mission to tell people the truth about wolves. He frequently takes his wolves to schools to educate children. I learned many things. For example, wolves eat only once a week. They gorge themselves and then show no interest in food until they get hungry again. Wolves kill only when they’re hungry–not like some animals that kill for sport. The alpha wolf in a pack is always a female. She is the only one in the pack who breeds–with the alpha male wolf who is subservient to her.

Wolves don’t bark. They don’t do any tricks. Rob said, “They’re too smart to do tricks. Once they do something, they get bored and won’t do it over and over like a dog will.” The two wolves we saw were very friendly and went from person to person in the circle soliciting pats on the head and scratchings behind the ears. Rob told us the two wolves he showed us were genetically 97% wolf and 3% dog–husky (I believe). That percentage has something to do with the law in North Carolina. In short, Rob and his wolves did give us a far more favorable view of these magnificent animals!

What has been your experience of wildlife?

Next week I am making my own annual retreat in Gloucester, Massachusetts. In one week I’m going from the mountains to the ocean. How lucky can one woman get?! While on retreat I promise to hold you all in special prayer. Thank you again for reading my blog!



No Comments

  1. Sister Miriam Denis on August 20, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Sister Melannie,
    May you have a peaceful, restful time on Retreat. May Christ throw His arms around you and give you a big hug.
    S. Miriam Denis

  2. Sister Maggie Moore,ssj on August 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm


    So glad things went well for you at Maggie Valley.
    We don’t have elk or wolves here at Paradise…but we have 27 wild
    turkeys that travel together, and even hold up traffic on the back roads.
    They even have the RIGHT-OF-WAY, and there is a sign that reads
    I pray you have a wonderful retreat next week. thanks for the blog of

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on August 22, 2012 at 11:22 am

      Dear Maggie, Thanks for sharing about your wild turkeys in Pennsylvania. Wild turkeys should have the right-of-way, don’t you think? After all, they were here first! Thanks again! Melannie

  3. Annie on August 21, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    God bless you Melannie! I hope you have a wonderful retreat! I loved your reflections on the wildlife, especially the wolves!

  4. Pauline Leitch on August 24, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Dear Melanie
    It was great to attend your retreat in Maggie Valley. Trudy the turtle continues to tell me to slow down and smell the roses in the rose garden here at Living Waters. I saw a bear on Balsam mountain this week, or to be correct the back end of a bear, scuttling into the trees. I think my car disturbed him.
    Enjoy your retreat!

  5. Sr. Kathleen Tobi n on August 26, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Dear Sister Melannie,
    I do enjoy your articles and found it interesting that wolves can be so tame. However, I still would hate to meet one if it were hungry.
    Next week at Gloucester, will you be going to Eastern Point Retreat Center? I have wonderful memories of my retreat there during Jubilee year. Hope you enjoy it too if that’s where you will be.
    Sister Kathleen

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