Sportsman Show to feature appearance by wolf pack


Feb. 21, 2013
Sharon and Michael Sandlofer will bring the only traveling wolf to the Big E grounds this weekend.
Reminder Publications submitted photo
By G. Michael Dobbs

news@thereminder.com

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Talk to Michael Sandlofer for just a few minutes and you realize that his "Wolves of the World" program is much more than a show it's a calling.

Sandlofer and his wife Sharon will be bringing what he called "the world's only traveling wolf pack" to the Springfield Sportsmen's Show Feb. 21 through 24 at the Eastern States Exposition.

In an interview with Reminder Publications, Sandlofer stressed that the wolves he and his wife have are not pets or treated like pets.

"We don't put pressure on them," he explained.

Instead the show is designed to educate people about what he called "the most misunderstood animals in the world." Sandlofer said Native Americans are the only people who have not tried to eradicate them.

He explained that caring for wild animals that have been orphaned or injured is a tradition that spans generations for both his and his wife's families. The couple has nursed bears and mountain lions, but added wolves when animals that had been raised on a fur farm needed a new home.

Sandlofer said his wife instinctively understands the animals and their needs. One of the secrets to understanding the wolves he revealed is that he and his wife are considered part of the wolf pack.

He recalled how his wife was walking one winter with their grandson and two young wolves. The toddler got stuck in a snow bank and the wolves would not leave him. They stayed, Sandlofer said, to protect one of their own.

Because of measures undertaken to bring back the American wolf population, Sandlofer said their numbers have grown. He acknowledged that in some Western states there has been criticism of re-introducing wolves into areas where they've not been in years and he regrets some livestock have died because of it.

He stressed, though, "These animals have the right to be here."

He said, typically, a wolf targets older or sick animals as prey as the animals really don't want a confrontation with a larger animals.

"They pick and chose and play a part in the ecosystem," Sandlofer said. He believes a wolf population is "a barometer of how the environment is doing."

Wolves adapt themselves to changing environments and the pack they have does well in a specially outfitted 48 foot tractor-trailer rig.

"People can walk through the truck and see them up close see their golden yellow eyes and hear them growl, how they communicate," he said.

They are sensitive, though, and Sandlofer noted that while at the Marshfield Fair one year a photographer using a long lens came to take photos. At the time the couple exhibited bears and mountain lions that did not react to the camera, but the wolves did. Sandlofer believes they thought it was a gun.

"They are sensitive unbelievably so," Sandlofer said.

He recalled how the wolf pack howled every night, and when the pack's 16 year-old alpha male died, the pack went silent for a week.

"They were in mourning. It was amazing," he said.

For more information on the Sportsman's show, go to www.osegshows.com.


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