All photos by Mhairi Law

I was a humandwolf


I felt very natural
        very human
          on my nights as a wolf

          walking the routes
          as tracker and hunter

           connected to the land

              with favorite places for sleeping

                and spots to watch from

                  waiting by the tree-line at dusk

                   content to be silent

                                becoming part of the wood

                                    familiar with nooks
                                      and crannies

                                    patterns of growth
                                      and decay

I felt safe in the woods
   with an underlying awareness
      I had a purpose

                                  when I’m out there
                                  I want for nothing
                                                                   (except maybe dry socks)

                                                                   when I’m back home
                                                                   I want more than anything
                                                                   to go back.


looking for signs


in the dark

                                                                  sniffing the air for
                                                                  the musty order

                                              bright reflections
                                         of cornea

your senses pick out

                                                                       faint smell
                                                                       of something
                                                                       that just passed


while being a wolf
I dreamt of deer
and the moon

                                       because of the dreamlike nature
                                       of the nights by night
                                       the veil becomes thinner
                                       lucid dreaming easier


we sit and catch our breath                 under a clear night sky

marveling at Sirius                        spanning the horizon

switch off the head-torches          it’s almost full moon

in the darkness                     everything’s still

cool air in my nostrils                       water trickling or rushing

birch leaves            rustling

the heather                               churring snipe

stirring      and woodcock overhead

snow-    whisper

flakes     down*

alk looking into the open eye of a dying bird

* the odd snowflake
bounces off my nose
with a small sound


being human I cannot say what being a wolf feels like

no more than a wolf would know what being human means

but all living things share a sense of space

that they come to know as home

where work, rest and life merge into the same thing



This poem is composed from answers to a questionnaire completed by ‘humandwolves – individuals who volunteered to join one of the four wolf packs, in 2016 and 2017, at Trees for Life, Dundreggan. Each pack spent one month as a ‘humandwolf’, warding deer from saplings. Project Wolf was conceived by Douglas Gilbert of Trees for Life.
The Humandwolves:
Martina Baltkalne
Millie Barrett
Nick Belt
Lotte Brockbank
Liv Glatt
Claire Large
Matt McMullen
Lorna Meek
Chanel Valento-Bovell
Alex Volkers


from the Creag a’ Mhadaidh Declaration: Manifesto for Humandwolves

for Doug, who thought it into being

humandwolf: a creative
category confusion


as humandwolves we swear to use our animality
to aid our earthother brothers and sisters!


what happens on the hill
stays on the hill


as a pack we bear
our human responsibilities
not as principles but acts!


“put fear on the hill!”
(humandwolves motto)


the absent wolf is our alibi


if Nature is an arena
then let’s perform!


as humandwolves we cannot
remove inequalities between species
but we can highlight them


by day we plant trees
by night we haunt the hill


don’t confuse us with idealists –
we piss on tree roots with a purpose!


no howling
the pack doesn’t howl


we are the bleed between
genetics and ecology,
liberty and necessity


in equal measure the pack attempts
to apply the knowledge of wolves
and presence of humans,
and the presence of wolves
and knowledge of humans


mimesis is mimsy!


our totem is the pine


once we have finished with the deer
then we are coming for the lairds!


deer and humandwolves
share the same paths


we must learn to labour
within nature, as a pack


the humandwolf recreates
an ecological niche


the humandwolf pack extends
to the spectrum of ecological remedies


some inventions reveal the past anew –
humandwolves return the idea of The Wolf



This manifesto is a fictional text extending aspects of Project Wolf in a speculative manner. Doug Gilbert conceived the humandwolves for Project Wolf. A small ‘pack’ of people go out on the hill at night and their presence has the effect of warding deer from heavy browsing of saplings. They were active at Trees for Life’s estate in Glemmoriston for two Springs and had a positive impact. The text does not represent the views of individual humandwolves or Trees for Life. First published as an edition of posters, commissioned by Common Ground, (2017).


Alec Finlay (Scotland, 1966) is an internationally-recognised artist and poet whose work crosses over a range of media and forms. Much of Finlay’s work considers how we as a culture, or cultures, relate to landscape and ecology. Recently Finlay’s work has focussed on place-awareness, ecopoetics, and the relationship between ecological remediation and human recuperation. In 2020 he was awarded a Cholmondeley award for services to poetry.