Canadians bite back at loneliness of isolation by howling at the moon

Every night as the full moon crests over the river valley,  Emma-Kate Larochelle takes a few steps outside her front door and screeches into the sky.

People are screaming at the sky every night. And the wolf pack is growing

Edmontonians have joined a growing movement that encourages people to emerge from their self-isolation to howl at the moon each night. (Darryl Webb/Reuters)

Every night as the moon crests over the river valley,  Emma-Kate Larochelle takes a few steps outside her front door and screeches into the sky.

"I have gone out every night and howled," Larochelle said. "I've gone out with my roommates. 

"The last two days, I've heard people howling back." 

There is a new movement afoot to encourage people to emerge from their homes at 8 p.m. and howl at the moon. It means the wild screeches you hear at nightfall might not be a pack of prowling coyotes nearby, but just your human neighbours.

Community howls were first heard in Colorado and spread to cities across the western United States. Now the nightly ritual is beginning to gain traction in Canadian cities. 

In Edmonton, people howl and bark alongside their dogs, or shriek into the streets with their children. 

Coronavirus has people howling at the moon

3 years ago
Duration 0:39
Edmontonians have joined a growing community movement encouraging people in isolation to emerge from their homes to howl at the moon. The nightly ritual, which started in the western United States, is gaining traction in Edmonton.

It fits in with a worldwide movement to create a welcome racket. People across the globe have been serenading their neighbours with music and song —  arias belted out from Italian balconies, the clanging of pots and pans in Spain.

For Larochelle, howling held the most appeal.

She first heard about the idea on social media and decided to organize an Edmonton-based community page on Facebook. Within a matter of days, the group had grown tenfold. As of Wednesday afternoon, the group had more than 4,000 local members vowing to howl nightly. 

Courtnei Albright walks with her dog to Ermineskin Park at twilight, hoping the open grassy fields will allow the sound of her howls to travel further. 

"It's just kind of that light of at the end of the day after you've made it through another day of sitting at home," she said. "Even if you don't hear anything else, I still have my doggo with me and she's doing it." 

'Times are crazy'

Wild canines like wolves and coyotes howl at the moon when they're separated from their pack. And much like our canine counterparts, howling with a human pack can create a sense of community as COVID-19 forces people into the loneliness of lockdown, Larochelle said. 

Larochelle hopes more humans will join her pack, embrace the cathartic feeling of howling into the night and listening for the answering cries from others.

"When you hear someone howl back, it's so satisfying," she said. 

"Times are crazy right now and being able to go and blow off a little bit of steam and yell at the sky is super-satisfying," she said.

"And when else are we going to be able to do it and have it be OK?"

With files from Josee St-Onge and Axel Tardieu