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Posts Tagged ‘Doug Webber’

June snowstorm, wolves, welcome new wind power installation at North Knife Lake Lodge

June 2014 Manitoba snowstorm at North Knife Lake Lodge.

Enjoying the June snowstorm at North Knife Lake Lodge.

by Doug Webber

June 4 started with a feeling of excitement. I was getting ready to fly to Thompson to pick up Danny, the man who was going to install the final pieces of equipment that would give us a major infusion of power into our existing solar power system at North Knife Lake Lodge.

The newly designed ultra-efficient 3,500 Watt wind generator is in its final stages of installation. The associated cabinetry and controllers are state of the art and in some cases, clearly innovative. The specially designed blades are environmentally friendly, as they are low rpm and have the exceptional capacity of negative bird strikes. During the three year trial run of the wind generator, not one bird was struck.

As I prepped the airplane for the flight, the matriarch of the resident wolf family poked her head out of the bush across the runway to see what I was up to. As I warmed up the engine, she scooted across the runway about 100 meters away, obviously intent on a mission that likely had something to do with food.

It was a clear beautiful day and the flight to Thompson was uneventful, so I was able to enjoy the gorgeous panorama of another Northern Manitoba spring as it unfolded around me. While waiting for Danny’s plane, I had time to run a few errands, pick up parts, groceries and fuel for the trip back. Danny arrived and we climbed aboard for the flight back to North Knife Lake.

As we came in for landing I noticed the momma wolf standing by the runway watching our progress. Despite the presence of a strong cross wind, I managed to pull off an acceptable landing and we coasted to a stop at the “terminal building” where the road leads to the Lodge just a quarter mile away. The wolf continued to watch us, and as long as we ignored her, she was content with our presence. Any attempt to approach her would see her melting into the forest.

A quick supper after Danny was settled in brought about the usual end-of-day tiredness. We checked the equipment we brought and crawled off to bed.

The expected cruddy weather arrived in the middle of the night. Flying back to Thompson for the additional bodies we required for tower erection was out of the question. There was a lot to do, with the mounting of the equipment and the hooking up the control charger. As the weather deteriorated over the next three days we got the Internet sorted out and set up for monitoring the equipment from the Lodge. From the office we could now see what was happening in the Battery Room, where all the solar and wind charging takes place.

During the storm, the wolf continued making her rounds near the Lodge. There were new tracks morning and evening through steadily increasing snow cover. We expected to see the pups make their first foray out into the world shortly after the storm had run its course and the snow had melted back into the ground.

New birds continued to show up on a daily basis. The loons, mergansers, mallards, pintails, Canada geese and bald eagles are all prepping their nests and getting ready to lay eggs. We also saw Pine and Evening grosbeaks, two or three species of warblers, Bank and Tree swallows, nighthawks, redpolls, robins, various gulls and peregrine falcons.

Some of the birds are residents and others are just passing through. Pine martins, mink and foxes are evident in the sand and occasional sightings confirm their presence. Beavers at the creek and south river are sending numerous bark-stripped branches downstream, indicating healthy numbers.

The continuing storm compromised the completion of the windmill project, as high winds were detrimental to the raising of the tower. As with many projects in the seasonal lodge business, a few weeks or months delay may be the outcome, but all will get done.

Danny’s unique skills in the alternate energy arena are necessary to make final adjustments once the windmill is producing power. As his departure day drew near and the storm continued, with eight inches of snow already on the ground, resignation of the inevitable began to take hold.

In time however, all this will be in the past and our carbon footprint at North Knife Lake Lodge will continue to shrink as we bring the wind generator on line. Stay tuned for the conclusion of Project Wind Power at some time in the near future!

June 7, 2014 Update: We put the blades on the windmill yesterday and with it resting on the barrel it was producing a couple of amps of power, which is going right into the batteries!

The polar bears are back at Seal River Lodge!

by Mike Reimer 

The polar bears are back in town!

Mom with polar bear cubs heading towards Seal River Lodge

We’re off to an incredible opening week at Seal River Lodge! This has all the makings of a banner year for wildlife enthusiasts at Churchill Wild!

Yesterday’s sightings of 16 bears included two sets of mothers with coys (cub of year) that were enough to send any camera clutcher into spasms of ecstasy. Okay, that’s maybe a little over the top, but it was pretty darn amazing, not to mention our video canners practically got mobbed by pods of anxious belugas all vying to be the first to land a spot on “Build Films” latest flick. Stay tuned for this one. It comes out in the fall.

On the rocks at Seal River

On the rocks at Seal River

Nolan and crew are down at Nanuk building the new Polar Bear Lodge and they’re having some great adventures with pesky black bears, roaming polar bears, black wolves and curious moose twins coming to visit at coffee time.

Adventure at its finest.

Adventure on Hudson Bay

And over at North Knife Lake Lodge our very own Wolf Whisperer, Doug Webber, is keeping busy playing host to an entire family of wolves spanning several generations. Photos and video coming soon!

Sunrise at Seal River

Sunrise at Seal River

All in all, 2013 is off to a roaring start!

Photos on this page courtesy of  BUILD FILMS.

Magical time with wolves at North Knife Lake Lodge

by Doug Webber

It’s been a banner few months for the wolves of North Knife Lake!

Saw the big Momma, two of her offspring from last year and two pups about three months old, all at the runway in the evening last week. In total, we have seen seven different wolves so far this spring and summer!

All have typical timber wolf colouring with one having distinct reddish tinges on its side. Pups are sandy coloured and they look well fed, quite chubby actually. All the fish must be going to them. The adults did quite a bit of howling and one disappeared into the bush after doing the bark-bark-bark-howl bark-bark-bark. The wolf that stayed on the runway continued to bark-howl-bark until we left.

Josh went ahead with the 5-wheeler while we walked. A big wolf came out of the bush at the sand bowl and followed him until the turnoff to the equipment grounds. What an evening! About 30 trout caught at Hahn Hole and out in front of the Lodge. We kept a couple for eating and released the rest. Two were master anglers!

A few days later we had more wolf sightings down at the runway. We took some fish trimmings out to them, howled and waited. After about 10 minutes we noticed something moving at a hill to the south of a turnaround.

It was a small pup lying down in a bit of a washout. We got a few photos before it disappeared into the bush. We drove back to the Lodge and while I was cleaning pails the adults started to howl, so Norm and I drove back out to the runway.

We saw four pups, two with the momma, one black and one gray, and two off by themselves near the turnaround. Momma was on the south hill with the black and gray ones. So far we have seen Momma, papa, three smaller ones that we suspect are last year’s pups and four pups from this year.

One of the young adults is very brave and has come within five meters of us on the 4-wheeler. She shows up pretty much right away when we arrive at the runway with supper. Another one or two wolves generally happen along five to 10 minutes later.

The wolves have also been getting close to the Lodge a couple of times a day. We’ve only seen them outside the Lodge on three occasions, but we see their tracks at least once a day.

I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to have the wolf families back at North Knife Lake Lodge.

It’s a magical time… in a special place.

Mother Daughter time at North Knife Lake Lodge

Guest Post by Nina Williams

The stress melted away as soon as we stepped off the plane and began the walk up the sandy path to beautiful North Knife Lake Lodge. My daughter Arielle and I had been here before, so we knew what to expect, and we were so looking forward to it.

Smiles all around for another Northern Pike!

Smiles all around for another Northern Pike!

We were heartily greeted by lodge owners Doug and Helen Webber, settled into our room and had a quick bite to eat before heading out for a gorgeous afternoon of fishing. On the first day my husband George was in the boat with us. We kicked him out of the boat after that. It wasn’t a mean thing, but there was another pro guide available for George, and besides, Arielle and I wanted to fish together. Our guide, Ryan, was perfect for us. We’re not elite fisherman, but we have our share of Master Angler Awards and we can hold our own. And, well…

It was such a great feeling to get back out on to North Knife Lake, a spectacularly pristine 30-mile long body of water deep in the wilderness 200 miles north of Thompson, Manitoba.

The thing I enjoyed most about the trip was giving our daughter Arielle the chance to do things that few children her age ever get to experience. Being on a float plane, exploring the wilderness, catching fish – and lots of them – in a lake with water so pure a clean you can drink from it. Many of Arielle’s friends take holidays, but not like this — far from civilization, in a true wilderness, yet with all the comforts of home, including a family-type atmosphere, which is something we especially enjoy. You just can’t help but rejuvenate and revitalize, it comes naturally with the surroundings.

Arielle learned how to cast on this trip, how to pick a target and land her lure on it. She didn’t really like trolling, so Ryan would let the boat drift along the shore and she would try to hit spots along the banks, underneath branches, over sandbars, just off rocky ledges. By the end of the trip she was quite the caster! And of course she loved catching the fish too!

The water was so clear you could see the fish swimming up to the boat. We caught a lot of fish everyday and I added another Master Angler Lake Trout to my collection. It’s all catch and release, except for the fish we kept for shore lunches that included delicious Baked Lake Trout, Sweet and Sour Pike and Fish Tacos.

Arielle loves to take pictures of anything and everything outdoors and she had a field day on this trip with photos of fish, bugs, flowers and even a bald eagle. She also especially enjoyed watching Head Guide Kent Michie and his hunting dogs do fetching exercises on the lake.

A few of the guests went swimming on the shore lunches, but we weren’t quite as brave. We swam in the lake near the lodge and Arielle and fellow guest Elliot, who was about the same age, even went tubing on one sunny afternoon. The water near the lodge was beautiful. It’s difficult to describe just how much of a stress reliever swimming in a lake in the middle of nowhere can be. Let’s just say it works!

Being at North Knife Lake Lodge is a complete change from everyday life. What we really like about it is the fact that we don’t have to do anything. There’s no everyday planning, no meetings to attend, no appointments to keep. We just show up to a wonderful breakfast at 7:30, walk down to the dock, get into the boat with our guide and off we go out on to the lake for what is always a fabulous day of fishing. After that we return to the lodge for cocktails and appetizers and a gourmet meal prepared by Helen Webber, who also happens to be the co-author of the Blueberries & Polar Bears Cookbook Series. We own all of the books in the series, and they are the best cookbooks we’ve ever owned.

Helen used many of the recipes from the cookbooks, but also tried some new creations that were equally as scrumptious. Her imaginative dishes were greatly appreciated by all the guests, including Gemini Incorporated founder Jim Weinel and his board members, who were also at the lodge when we were there.

The Gemini board members take a fishing trip every year and they have been to exclusive lodges all over the world. They said the food at North Knife Lake Lodge tied for first place with a lodge in Mexico and another in B.C.  We wholeheartedly agree! A fascinating group of very intelligent individuals with diversified backgrounds and impeccable manners, we really enjoyed the company of the Gemini board.

The people we have met at North Knife Lake Lodge over the years have always been exceptional, and that includes owners, guests and staff. The family-run lodge is comfortable, like home. We always feel so welcome. A sincere thank you to the Webber family for yet another fabulous fishing vacation at North Knife Lake Lodge! Stress free, first class…

and a great place to bond with my daughter.

 

Churchill Wild to attend First International Wolf & Carnivore Conference in Thompson MB, October 23-24, 2012

Arctic Wolf at North Knife Lake Lodge

Arctic Wolf at North Knife Lake Lodge

Wolf experts and scientists from Canada, USA and Russia, along with researchers, students, conservationists, eco-tour operators and others will gather at the First International Wolf & Carnivore Conference, which takes place in Thompson, Manitoba on Oct. 23-24, 2012.

Churchill Wild will be represented by North Knife Lake Lodge founder Doug Webber, who has spent most of his life in Churchill, Thompson and the surrounding Manitoba wilderness. North Knife Lake Lodge has been home to more than one family of wolves for almost 40 years, and along with taking fishing guests on hikes to view the wolves, Webber has also assisted wolf researchers on numerous occasions.

The main organizer of the conference, Volker Beckmann, is hoping that the conference will help to transform Thompson into the Wolf Capital of Canada.

“Wolves should be seen as an ecological and economic asset, similar to the way polar bears and beluga whales are to Churchill,” said Beckmann in a recent Winnipeg Free Press article entitled Wolves Pack them in.

“In northern Manitoba, wolves can attract researchers and tourists, provide new income and business opportunities, and create positive publicity for Thompson and Manitoba if managed and marketed properly. Thompson could link itself as the wolf capital to the polar bear capital in Churchill for eco-tourism efforts. There’s great potential.”

Main Themes of the Wolf & Carnivore Conference:

  • Wolf Ecology, Management and Policies
  • Wolves and Polar Bear Dynamics along the coast of Hudson Bay
  • Defining a Wolf/Carnivore Centre of Excellence
  • Current and future Wolf Research Projects in unstudied regions

 

Invited Presenters and Keynote Speakers include:

Rick Baydack, CWB

Rick Baydack is a Professor at the University of Manitoba, Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources, Department of Environment and Geography, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He is also the Canadian Section Representative to The Wildlife Society Council. His principal professional interests are practical management applications for wildlife and their habitats, using an ecosystem approach and adaptive strategies. Baydack will be focusing on how wolves and their prey, woodland caribou, are affected by northern development.

L. Dave Mech (tentative)

L. David Mech (pronounced “Meech”) is a Senior Research Scientist with the Biological Resources Division, U.S. Geological Survey and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, and Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. Mech has studied wolves and their prey since 1958, as well as several other species of wildlife.

Marco Musiani

Marco Musiani is an Associate Professor, Tenured with the Faculties of Environmental Design and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary. He is currently analyzing ecological data on large carnivores (example, wolves) and their prey, which was gathered throughout Northern and Western Canada. He has published two books on wolves.

Nikita G. Ovsyanikov

Nikita G. Ovsyanikov is the Deputy Director for science and senior research scientist, Wrangel Island State Nature Reserve, Ministry of Nature Resources, Russian Federation and Senior Research Scientist, Severtzov’s Institute of Problems of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences. Ovsyanikov has studied the population, condition, and behavior of polar bears on Russia’s Wrangel Island for more than 15 years. The remote island is one of the largest polar bear denning sites in the world and has seen significant changes in the sea ice in recent years. In addition to scientific papers, he is the author of “Polar Bears: Living with the White Bears.”

Paul Paquet

Paul Paquet, Ph.D. is an Adjunct Professor of Biology and Associate Professor of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary. He is also an Adjunct Professor at University of Saskatchewan College of Veterinary Medicine, Brandon University, University of Manitoba; and Faculty Associate at Guelph University and University of New Brunswick. Paquet, who has studied wolves and coyotes for more than 35 years, obtained his PhD degree from the University of Alberta, Canada. He is an internationally recognized authority on mammalian carnivores, especially wolves, with research experience in several regions of the world.

See Full Conference Bios Here

For more information on the first International Wolf & Carnivore Conference, including travel information, registration, themes, conference speakers, FAQ and Thompson area overview, please e-mail wolfconf@yahoo.com or visit: http://www.thompsonspiritway.ca/wolf/welcome/