Monday, November 7, 2011

New Wolves & Thoughts from Jim

I first came to the Boundary Waters 40 years ago from the treeless prairie.  I picked this area because of the waterfall near Moose Lake. The local animal lore shared with me that this was a special place that animals were frequently seen.  Through amazing circumstances, I was able to obtain the waterfall property and build my home, which I call Ravenwood.   The wolf was the prime animal that drew me to the north woods and over the past 30 years I have indeed been blessed with many lifetimes worth of photographic memories including one particular image – Brother Wolf – that changed my life.  Through these years, I’ve learned much about the individual body language and coloration of the neighborhood wolf pack’s progeny. When I first came to Ely, the locals called the black wolves Siberian wolves.  I haven’t heard that term in a long time. 

In the past three years my attentions have been focused on projects in Europe and I had not been paying particular attention to the local packs of wolves. But this fall, upon returning to Ravenwood after a month’s absence, I noticed an unusual amount of wolf sign near my house.  I decided to start following my instincts again and focused in on the wolves for a day.  I was pleasantly surprised when I came upon these three pups.  They are approximately six months old, and represent the three color phases of wolves I have seen through my years: 
the lightest, black and the reddish. 

 The following photographs represent the last three generations of our neighborhood pack.

This year’s three pups
Blond Pup
Blond Pup Catching Flies

Blackie Pup

Rusty Pup

This is the mother of the three pups; we call her "Mama Blackie."   I made this image about 4 years ago.  I just saw Mama Blackie  on November 5, two days after 
writing this post, and she is now all silver.

Mama Blackie

Grandpa Blackie has his tail sticking straight up on the right, Grandma Blondie is on the left with her tail elevated and two of their pups in the middle (one being Mama Blackie). All the black wolves I’ve seen from this pack eventually turn silver gray after four years, if they live that long.   
 Grandpa Blackie had very large feet, in fact, one of our hunter neighbors thought Grandpa Blackie’s tracks were of a mountain lion because they were so big.   

My Neighbors
Blackie at Dusk
Wolf Pack Rests
Wolf Pack Howling on Lake

A number of years ago the area pack reached 19 wolves.  I had photographed every member of the pack and had given each one a name for my own identification.  Sadly, during hunting season, Grandpa Blackie was killed. Several other members of his pack also disappeared.  Grandpa Blackie’s radio collar had been cut off and discarded near Ely – with no sign of his body.  The disruption to the pack caused a major disbursement of the other members. I have seen how extremely sensitive a wolf family can be; but now as you see with this year’s three pups,
they have slowly started to make a comeback.  

-Jim Brandenburg

Jim is currently creating an extensive book on wolves (which will also be available as an iPad app). This book will feature his latest work and highlight elements from his award winning books White Wolf and Brother Wolf.  Check back for updates.


  1. Beautiful, as usual, Jim.

  2. Must be nice to just settle in after long absences and return to the quietness and solitude of our wilderness.

  3. Great and inspiring work as always, Jim!

  4. Jim, these are amazing photos thank you so much for sharing them!!!

  5. Inspiring story with wonderful images!
    Thanks for sharing, Jim!

  6. Awesome photos and experiences! Thanks Jim!

  7. Do you know how many wolves can be supported by land that the local pack inhabits? An extreme example to clarify the question - The area might not support 20,000 wolves. But maybe it could support 40 without a negative impact on other species that live there?

    Thank you for your work in the BWCA. To describe what it has meant to me would take too many words for this space. So I'll just say that it's meant a lot to me.

  8. It will be a pleasure to read and look at the extensive book of 'Brother wolf'. It's been a long time that i'm waiting for. Keep in touch !
    Benoit B

  9. fotos bellisimas y experiencias maravillosas nos regalas, infinitas gracias por hacernos participes de ellas, besinos de esta amiga admiradora.

  10. These are beautiful photos of a wonderful family. I shudder to think of what Minnesota's new wolf hunting season will do to this family and all other wolf families in the fall of 2012.....


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