Living With Wolves……Germany’s Werner Freund

    

Werner Freund knows wolves.  He’s been studying and living with them for over thirty years. 

He started and runs the Wolfspark Werner Fruend in Merzig, Germany, which is home to twenty captive wolves.  He loves wolves and promotes their good qualities and dislikes their undeserved reputation.  He’s raised over 70 wolf pups. 

One misconception is wolves are people aggressive. Wild wolves are rarely aggressive towards people. Dogs are another story. Since dogs have lost their fear of humans and some dog species have high prey drives, that combination can get them in trouble.  Dogs kill twenty people a year and bite another 4.5 million.

Wolves on the other hand are very shy and fearful of people and wild wolf attacks on humans are extraordinarly rare. When they do happen they get huge amounts of press because they are so uncommon. Most wild wolves would rather be a hundred miles away from any human. 

A good example Werner Fruend relates, about wolves good nature, involves a camera shoot. Normally Werner is  the only one to enter the wolf pen but on this particular day a reporter entered with him.  They both dressed in smelly wolf-approved clothing.

“Entering the wolves’ realm required a specific — and smelly — dress code. A sweater that held the wolves’ scent and had to be worn, as did tall rubber boots caked in mud, dried blood and who knows what else. The combination was a jolt to the human nose but a treat for the wolves. They only stopped licking the stranger’s boots when Freund brought out the main course, a chunk of raw beef.

As Freund held the meat for the dining wolves, the reporter shot photos, at one point lying nearly flat on the ground to get a good angle, figuring the wolves would pay no heed while eating. But curiosity got the best of some, and soon the wolves were walking over the reporter, licking her face and camera and trying to pull out her hair bands. They succeeded. Though clearly strong, the wolves remained playful and friendly and never aggressive.”

Hair ties anyone?

 ======================

Germany’s leader of the pack: To study wolves, he must become one, researcher says

By Jennifer H. Swan and Marcus Klöckner, Stars and Stripes
Stripes European Travel, October 29, 2009

“In a sign of submission, an Arctic wolf pup licks German wolf researcher Werner Freund on the face while Freund visits with the animal in its enclosure at Wolfspark Werner Freund in Merzig, Germany.”

It’s clear who the dominant “wolf” is among the pack of hungry pups.

The one in charge lies on the ground, holding the slab of calf meat firmly in his teeth while the fair-coated Arctic canines tear off pieces of raw tendon and flesh. Between bites, they crawl playfully over his back all the while adhering to the group hierarchy, which means they don’t abscond with the meal, however tasty.

The alpha doesn’t eat. While he may smell like a wolf, howl and yelp like a wolf, and certainly demonstrates he can think like a wolf, the alpha is different in one very fundamental way: He’s a human named Werner Freund.

“When I am with the wolves, I become a wolf,” Freund says matter-of-factly. He is, as his book on wolf research is titled, Germany’s “wolf man.”

At 76, Freund is gray and grizzled like the creatures he has lived among for more than 30 years. Over the course of his lifetime, he has been many things, including a professional gardener, a German army sergeant, bear caretaker and world traveler.

His wolf man phase began later in life, five years after he settled in Merzig, Germany, in 1972. With land borrowed from the city, Freund and his wife, Erika, created a refuge for wolves in the neighboring Kammerforst forest. Wolfspark Werner Freund is currently home to more than 20 wolves from Europe, Siberia, Canada and elsewhere.

The wolves are acquired as cubs from zoos or animal parks, typically when they’re 10 to 14 days old. Freund, who’s raised more than 70 wolf pups, sequesters them from the public for six months, sleeping with them and feeding them by bottle every two hours until they’re ready for their first bites of meat. With such close interaction, the cubs think Freund is the she-wolf, or the alpha female of the pack. It’s a bond that lasts for the wolves’ lifetime and it’s why Freund can freely enter their territory and study their behavior up-close.

While humans may be able to train dogs, “you can’t domesticate a wolf,” Freund says. “I had to become a wolf” to be able to interact with them.

Freund says wolves, who live about six years in the wild, live longer at his center. One died there at age 17 this summer.

When Freund visits his wolves, he is meticulous about hygiene, a hard-earned lesson taught to him by the wolves.

One day he entered the territory of an alpha female Arctic wolf and her pack, and soon after went into another pack’s area, without showering. The dominant female in the second enclosure picked up “the smell of her opponent and suddenly she jumped high and bit me in the ear,” Freund recalls. “I had to fight with her and after the fight she came up to me and licked the blood dripping from my ear. That was a clear sign of her submission.”

Freund and his human assistants live in their own den on the park grounds, a cozy house where domestic cats have free rein and the wall decor in the living room reveals a lifetime of adventure and a love of all things wild.

Visitors may see the wolves for free — and perhaps catch a glimpse of the wolf man — during the park’s operating hours between sunup and sundown. Trails go past seven different fenced enclosures, inside of which like breeds of wolves live as packs. Though physically separate, the wolves often join one another in a chorus of spine-tingling howls that echo through the park. Visitors may even be lucky enough to spy Freund in the act. Howling, after all, is a form of bonding, Freund says.

Normally, visitors cannot mix with the wolves as Freund does. But there are exceptions.

On one day in late July, Freund invited a reporter to join him inside the Arctic pups’ enclosure. The opportunity would afford the chance to observe and photograph Freund and the wolves interacting up close.

Entering the wolves’ realm required a specific — and smelly — dress code. A sweater that held the wolves’ scent and had to be worn, as did tall rubber boots caked in mud, dried blood and who knows what else. The combination was a jolt to the human nose but a treat for the wolves. They only stopped licking the stranger’s boots when Freund brought out the main course, a chunk of raw beef.

As Freund held the meat for the dining wolves, the reporter shot photos, at one point lying nearly flat on the ground to get a good angle, figuring the wolves would pay no heed while eating. But curiosity got the best of some, and soon the wolves were walking over the reporter, licking her face and camera and trying to pull out her hair bands. They succeeded. Though clearly strong, the wolves remained playful and friendly and never aggressive.

That’s the side of wolves Freund wants the public to see, though from a more distant vantage. He is driven by a quest to give people a better understanding of the animals he loves so dearly.

“There is this image of the evil wolf but this is too far from reality,” he says. “Wolves kill in order to have something to eat, so do other animals.” Wolves, like people, are social creatures, Freund says.

His long-time assistant, Tatjana Schneider, adds: “Humans could learn a lot from wolves. They (wolves) stick together and try to survive.

Freund, she says, “wants to show and tell people about what the wolf really is, what it stands for.”

http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=103&article=65700

 Arctic Wolf Photo Courtesy: Stars and Stripes 

Posted in:  gray wolf/canis lupus, Positive Wolf News

Tags:  Wolfpark Werner Freund, living with wolves,  wolves in Germany

About these ads

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: http://howlingforjustice.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/living-with-wolves-germanys-werner-freund/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

19 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. [...] dog coaching device Breed of dogs Hypoallergenic hunting dogs make great pets too | the puppy blog! Living with wolves……germany's werner freund « howling for justice Gun dog training “whoa” part 2 german shorthair poionter willow … Dog training – how to train [...]

  2. IT’S VERY NICE….BUT FOR THE MOMENT IN GERMANY HAVEN’T WOLVES… ANY WOLVES…

    • Hi Agnes,
      I found this about German wolves. It’s from 2007.

      Wolves making comeback in Germany
      SPREEWITZ, Germany, Oct. 26 A German wolf expert says the country’s wolf population is establishing a new foothold.

      Ilka Reinhardt told Der Spiegel there are 30 wolves living in Germany, more than the country has had in 200 years.

      She said populations are increasing all over Europe, although Norway only has 20 wolves, Switzerland knows of three wolves living there and there are only nine packs roaming the wilds of Sweden, the newspaper said. A recent study shows wide swaths of eastern Germany, as well as parts of the south and west, would make ideal homes for wolves.

      Read more: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/131457.html#ixzz0kHqrYfRN

  3. YES, YOU CAN FIND IN THE ZOO… BUT ANYWHERE ON WILD…

    • Hi Agnes,
      I posted this story because I like to show wolves in positive circumstances to counter all the bad press they get. Freund’s wolves are captive but he’s totally dedicated to them and has spent his life living with them. I think that’s commendable. Wolves need good PR whenever they can get it.

      N.

  4. This guy has my dream job!

    • Me too g…

  5. THANK YOU, NABEKI!I SHOWED LUKE’S VIDEO TO MY HUSBAND. HE WAS MARVELED AT LUKE. HE TOLD TO ME TO GO TO MISSION WOLF FOR TAKE LUKE OR OTHER…FROM FRANCE.I DON’T FIND WORDS TO EXPLAIN OUR SADNESS. ABOUT GERMANY…I’M VERY PESSIMIST BECAUSE GERMAN PEOPLES ARE A BIG HUNTERS. I KNOW THAT BECAUSE I’M ORIGINE HUNGARIAN,MY HUSBAND IS FRENCH.WE HATE HUNT.LOT OF GERMAN HUNTER GO TO HUNGARY, TO ROMANIA FOR TO HUNT.IN ROMANIA HAVE “SPECIAL WOLVES HUNTING” FOR TURIST HUNTER…THANK YOU…

    • Your welcome Agnes.

      N.

  6. there are 50 wild wolves in 6 packs in germany. they are come from poland. and it looks as if all the packs got puppies.

    http://www.wolfsregion-lausitz.de/sonstiges/56-oktober2009

    • Thank you Grey Wolf for that good news. I hope they stay safe this year.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,
      Nabeki

  7. Hi! I found this beautiful site, so I add Your link to my blogs! I hope my visitors will come here!

    • Greetings Artic Swan, glad you found us.

      N.

  8. Hi!! I’ve met Shaun Ellis some years ago and was an incredible experience..I’d like to know if there’s a way to contact Dr.Freund to meet him and his incredbiles wolves. I live in Italy so isn’t so far from Germany. Hope someone can help. Thanks!!!!
    Best regards.

    Vincenzo De Nardo

  9. I want to start a harp seal zoo when I grow up

    • I want to stop the Canada harp seal hunt

      • That is a very noble goal Kokopuffs. We need young people like you who love animals and wildlife and are passionate about saving them. The Canadian harp seal hunt is very brutal. Maybe you could write to Paul Watson and let him know you want to help the harp seals when you grow up. He has fought for them for a very long time.

        For the wolves, For the wild ones,
        Nabeki

  10. Dear Mr. Freund, have you read Farley Mowatt’s book, “Never Cry Wolf”? Such a wonderful book. Please may I paint the picture if the wolf between the trees?

  11. hello werner fruend, just like to say how jealous i am of u for being able to walk within these spiritual creatures, i have german shephards, the nearest to the wolf clan, and i have applied to our local council for a permit for a checz wolve pup from devon, england. i dont know why but wolves are such a special breed and i believe they should ban killing of these fantastic animals as they where born to roam free and maybe one day it will happen, if i could ever afford it, i will make ur place the first stop to come and visit. scotland has introduced a pack of wild wolfs within a certain area and from what i can account from it is going well. thank you for helping these creatures and hopefully i can visit you and your pack one day. they say we are all born on this plant for a reason, i dont know what mine is, but u have found yours. dead jealous. god bless.xxxxxxx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,537 other followers

%d bloggers like this: