A while back, I posted that Mark would be releasing a new piece titled Valley of Shadows in February. Well, it has been here for a couple of weeks, and we are getting a very positive response from it. When I first saw the print, I was instantly captivated… snow, wolves, misty forest… what more could you ask for. Then, I went and saw “The Gray,” and now the piece makes me think of the movie when I look at it. With that in mind, I thought I would share some information about wolves, their reintroduction to the Smoky Mountains, and why this might make a good momento of your vacation in the Smokies.
“The gray wolf or common wolf (Canis lupus) is the largest extant member of the dog family of mammals, the Canidae. The species was the world’s most widely distributed mammal but has become extinct in much of Western Europe, in Mexico and much of the USA. Wolves occur primarily but not exclusively in wilderness and remote areas. Their original worldwide range has been reduced by about one-third by deliberate persecution due to depredation on livestock and fear of attacks on humans. Although the species still faces some threats, it is relatively widespread with a stable population trend and has therefore been assessed as Least Concern by IUCN since 2004.
Though once abundant over much of Eurasia, North Africa and North America, the gray wolf inhabits a reduced portion of its former range due to widespread destruction of its territory, human encroachment, and the resulting human-wolf encounters that sparked broad extirpation. Today, wolves are protected in some areas, hunted for sport in others, or may be subject to population control or extermination as threats to livestock, people, and pets.
Gray wolves are social predators that live in nuclear families consisting of a mated pair, their offspring and, occasionally, adopted immature wolves. They primarily feed on ungulates, which they hunt by wearing them down in short chases. Gray wolves are typically apex predators throughout their range, with only humans and tigers posing significant threats to them. Genetic studies reaffirm that the gray wolf is the ancestor of the domestic dog. A number of other Canis lupus subspecies have been identified, though the actual number of subspecies is still open to discussion. In areas where human cultures and wolves both occur, wolves frequently feature in the folklore and mythology of those cultures, both positively and negatively.” Find out more about wolves.
“Wolves are native to the Smoky Mountains. Hunting and habitat loss eliminated wolves from southern Appalachians in the late 1800′s. While gray wolves survived in Canada and Alaska, the red wolf populations shrank until 1973. Then the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service captured the world’s last 14 red wolves. In 1991, the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced the red wolf to the Great Smoky Mountains. Only 350 red wolves remain in the world, and they roam free in the Great Smokies and the Alligator Wildlife Refuge in coastal North Carolina. Today about 25 animals live in the Park. They are not a threat to humans. Most of the red wolves live between Cades Cove and the Sugarlands Visitor Center.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s red wolf program provides three release areas. Alligator National Wildlife Refuge, in coastal North Carolina has more than 70 red wolves. Cades Cove and the Great Smoky Mountains is the second area. It has about 25 red wolves. The third site is in the selection process.
The Cades Cove reintroduction program began in 1991. Successes and setbacks mark the program. The wolves reproduced in the wild, and a few pups reached adulthood. A poacher killed one wolf, and another died of anti-freeze poisoning. Tracking studies show the wolves prefer areas outside the Park boundaries. If people in the surrounding communities do not support the effort, problems will follow.
It is difficult to see a red wolf. They are shy and nocturnal. Although rarely seen, people often hear them howl.
Adult red wolves weigh from 45-80 pounds. Although they do often have reddish cast, they can be gray, yellow, or black. Raccoons and ground hogs are common prey.
The red wolves are not pack-oriented like the gray wolf. Red wolves give birth to five to seven pups in April, but a few usually die. Parents raise the family together. As the pups mature, the family may remain together and appear to make a small pack. When hunting, they look for rodents, rabbits, groundhogs or raccoons. Their diets include most anything from persimmons and insects to birds, small mammals, and an occasional deer, taking the weaker animals.
The Red Wolf reintroduction project did not work and there are no wolves in the park. The project was discontinued in 1998. ” You can find out more information about the wildlife in the Smokies by going here.
All that being said, wolves are a part of the heritage here in the Smoky Mountains although they are no longer roaming free. In Mark’s painting, you can see a glimpse into a time when humans and nature coexisted peacefully and wolves were scattered across the countryside.
Size/Edition Framed Unframed Edition Size
18×27 S/N $750.00 $550.00 95
18×27 A/P $1,195.00 $995.00 15
24×36 A/P $1695.00 $1375.00 25