Monday, July 31, 2006

Orphaned wolf pups returned to Wildlife Science Center

MINNEAPOLIS - Three orphan wolf pups are back in Minnesota to stay.

The pups arrived Friday at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn., after an attempt to reintroduce them into the wild in northeastern Wisconsin apparently was ruined by a poacher who killed their father. "Long term, they'll be here," said Bob Ebsen, the center's education coordinator. "My guess is that if they're coming here, they're going to be (permanently) captive."

The pups will join an existing pack of eight wolves at the center, which currently has 38 wolves in several packs. The captive wolves are used for research and environmental education programs at the center, which also has bobcats, raccoons, bears, foxes and raptors.

The three males were the first pups in 75 years to be born on the Menominee Reservation near Green Bay, Wis., and tribal officials hoped they could grow to maturity there. The pups' mother died or was killed in early May about three weeks after their birth. Biologists brought the pups to the center in Forest Lake to be nursed by a female wolf in captivity, who already was raising three of her own pups.

Once the wild-born pups were weaned, they were returned to the reservation on July 10 and placed in a holding pen near where their original pack was running wild. The hope was that their father would find and raise them. Tracking signals from the father's radio collar showed that he came within a half-mile of the pups on July 11, but his cut-off collar was found the next day. He apparently was killed illegally. The case is under investigation.

Attempts to trap other adult wolves in the area failed. Wolf biologists said the pups are too young and inexperienced to survive in the wild. Peggy Callahan, executive director of the center, said she's frustrated that a poacher ended the pups' chances of being raised on the reservation.

  • Duluth News Tribune

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