A Tribute to Delinda

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On the eve of Canadian Geographic’s cover shot of Delinda, I have put together a new story in my Storybook Gallery about Delinda and the rest of the Bow Valley wolf pack, featuring a collection of some of my favourite wolf photographs from the past two years.

Delinda skirting the edge of a meadow

CBC has also posted an article online on CBC News about Delinda, the cover shot, and some of my comments about her death and what it means to me and to the Bow Valley.

The timing is interesting as we near some of the most important planning and management decisions in years concerning our first (and many would argue, most important) national park, Banff National Park. I encourage you to visit Parks Canada’s website and voice your opinions about the draft management plan. The draft plan is woefully inadequate to support any sustained ecological integrity in the park, and suprisingly talks about increasing visitation in the park, which is NOT Parks Canada’s mandate. Rather, they need to be concerned about making visiting the park a better experience for those that do come here, while at the same time putting far more effort into ensuring that our wolves and grizzlies do not continue to die on our roads and railways. This whole “if we pretend we’re doing something about it then no one will question us” attitude needs to change immediately, the status quo is no longer acceptable.

Please consider writing a Letter to the Editor of either the Banff Crag & Canyon or the Rocky Mountain Outlook, as well as sending an email directly to Mike Murtha with Parks Canada.

John

Canadian Geographic Cover

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It’s official! The December issue of Canadian Geographic magazine will feature this image of mine of Delinda, a wild wolf that I came to know very well over the course of a few years, on the cover:

I knew I was in the running for the cover about two weeks ago when the photo editor for the magazine called me and asked for my permission to put two of my images of Delinda in the online ‘cover vote’ that they do with subscribers to confirm their selection of each month’s cover.

My two images (see below) were up against a red fox.


Fortunately for me, the readers chose one of the images of Delinda, though as this week’s Banff Crag & Canyon article on the cover selection suggests, I wasn’t sure I’d win. In fact, I was pretty sure that my two wolf images would saw each other off at the pass in the voting, handing the next cover to the image of the red fox.

Thankfully I was wrong! It’s my first cover of Canadian Geographic magazine, though I’ve had several covers with them for their catalogs and calendars over the years and am quite regularly published in the magazine via my stock photography agents.

The Canadian Geographic website is also doing a feature story on the cover shot and on my experiences with Delinda, the former matriarch of the Bow Valley wolf pack who died tragically on the Trans-Canada Highway a year ago. You can read more about her untimely death in the article below from Macleans magazine in September 2008 (click on the picture to see the full-size article).


A year later and Delinda’s death is still no easier for me to take. Every time I drive the Bow Valley Parkway I’m reminded of the cherished time I got to spend watching and photographing her and her pack. Her death signaled a changing of the pack structure and the beginning of chaos amid the Bow Valley wolves. Today, 14 months after her death, more than half her pack has been killed just like she was on the busy roads of Banff National Park, Canada’s supposed ‘flagship’ national park. And with no sightings of any members of the pack in the past few months, no one is even sure if any of them are still alive.

Since this coming December issue is the special first anniversary of Canadian Geographic’s annual Wildlife-only issue and one of the topics in the magazine will be the state of wildlife conservation in Canada, I think it’s very fitting that this iconic image of Delinda, one that already greets millions of Banff visitors from the back of one of the town’s hybrid buses, will be gracing the cover of Canada’s most-read nature magazine.

I can only hope her picture and her story lead to an improvement in how wildlife is managed (an oxymoron in itself) in our national parks.