Kelowna kids can meet Tundra, learn about wolves

Kids in Kelowna will have a chance to come face to face with a "wolf" this weekend.

Gary Allan from Nanaimo is introducing his wolfdog — Tundra — at an event hosted by Kelowna Nature Kids and the Okanagan Boys and Girls Club to teach kids about wolves and their important place in B.C.'s ecosystems.

"This animal is so misunderstood and maligned," he told Radio West host Rebecca Zandbergen.

"There's so much misinformation out there, so what I try to do is give them good science-based, biology-based information about wolves and how they're very needed in ecosystems and bring balance to our ecosystems as a keystone species."

Allan has three wolfdogs and has spent the last decade touring B.C. schools and community groups with them. Tundra, he says, is "90 percent wolf."

'Respect them'

Allan says while First Nations cultures look upon wolves favourably, European cultures have tended to vilify the wolf.

He's critical of that perspective, which he says feeds into policies like B.C.'s wolf cull.

Allan says he also has a message to people thinking of wolfdogs as pets: they're not.

"They're very high-maintenance animals. You have to understand their biology and their behaviour," he said. "Many people get these animals, they think they're kind of cool, and it turns out to be a disaster."

Still, he says his wolfdog, Tundra, is very friendly toward children. "She's never even growled at one."

But because Tundra is so friendly, he says kids need to know wolves in the wild are not animals they can go up and pet.

"I tell them not to fear them … I just tell them to respect them. It's a wild animal."

Allan and Tundra will be at the Rutland Boys and Girls Club Saturday from 1-4 p.m.

Listen to the full interview:

With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West