Monday, July 31, 2006

Wolves in Montana

By JIM MANN - The Daily Inter Lake

Public plays part in improved monitoring

One was found by a bear hunter near Troy, another by herbology researchers working near the Pinkham Creek drainage south of Eureka, and yet another by average folks who live in the Marias Pass area. In just a matter of months, three wolf packs have been discovered and included in the Northwest Montana wolf population. There's likely more to be found, too, according to officials with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, which has assumed management and monitoring responsibilities for the Northwest Montana wolf population from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Do the latest wolf counts represent a population growth trend or do they merely reflect better monitoring? The answer is a mix of both, according to Kent Laudon, the state wolf management specialist for Northwest Montana.

This last year, there appears to be a big population jump from previous years, he said. Some of it is real population increases and some of it is increased vigilance in monitoring. The 10-year average shows the Northwest Montana population is slowly growing. More specifically, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has a stronger network of biologists and game wardens who regularly work in the field with the public and other agencies, compared to the resources that were at play when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was monitoring wolves in Northwest Montana.

And the department has beefed up efforts to encourage public wolf sightings, most recently with the addition of an online report form for wolf sightings. Our report frequency has gone up since we started it, Laudon said, adding that public reports have been crucial to providing an improved accounting of the region's wolf population.

Ed Bangs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf recovery coordinator, has long stressed that the number of wolves and wolf packs appearing in annual reports only represents the known wolves on the landscape. And he repeatedly acknowledged that there are certainly wolves in the woods that can't be accounted for.

After a wolf was hit and killed by a car on U.S. 2 near Marias Pass in February, Laudon put out a press release in which he speculated that the wolf might be a lone disperser from a distant pack. Residents in the Marias Pass area promptly contacted him to correct that guess, reporting sightings of several wolves in the area. Laudon said Blackfeet tribal fish and game officials ultimately provided agency verification for a bona fide Marias Pack.

More recently, a bear hunter stumbled onto some wolf pups near Troy, reporting the sighting to a friend, who relayed the information to area wildlife biologist Jerry Brown. Brown interviewed the hunter to establish where the sighting occurred, then went to the location and photographed wolf pups in the area. Laudon later attempted to trap and fit an adult wolf with a radio collar in the same area, but instead ended up catching a black bear, a mountain lion and a bobcat. He believes a wolf was temporarily caught in the leg hold trap, which is modified with rubber to avoid serious harm to the animals. He intends to return to the area for another attempt at collaring a wolf.

This week, Laudon was working traps in the Pinkham Creek drainage, where a group of amphibian researchers recently photographed three pups and Laudon located tracks and scat to confirm the presence of a new pack.

Getting radio collars in a pack is essential for monitoring wolves, Laudon said, and even with collared wolves, following them is kind of like holding water in my hand. Collared wolves die, or sometimes older wolves leave their packs and wander far away, and batteries eventually wear down, too. Just last year, one collared wolf was hit by a train, one was found dead in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and one simply went missing. Batteries will soon expire in radio collars on wolves in the Kintla Pack, which ranges in the North Fork Flathead River drainage.

Being able to locate packs through regular radio telemetry flights isn't just important for keeping tabs on pack populations, it's also important for heading off conflicts with livestock. That's the case with the new pack in the Pinkham drainage. There are livestock concerns up there, Laudon said. There is a grazing allotment on federal lands there, so it would be good to get a collar in there to monitor that pack.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks also has an interest in monitoring wolves and their impacts on elk and deer populations. The state's wolf management plan includes provisions to curb wolf populations if those impacts are severe.

However, the state's ability to do that will depend on wolves in the Northern Rockies being removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act. Delisting has been held up because the state of Wyoming does not have a wolf management plan that’s approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Montana and Idaho have approved plans and populations that exceed recovery goals.

The 2005 annual wolf report had an official count of 19 packs with 126 wolves in Northwest Montana. That snapshot count has changed with new pups, mortality, immigration and dispersal of wolves. And it has changed with the discovery of the new packs. This year’s monitoring data will produce entirely different counts, particularly with the help of the public reporting wolf sightings.

Sightings can be reported by calling Laudon at 751-4586 or through the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Web site at:

  • The Daily Inter Lake
  • 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
  • Wolf family finds freedom in Arizona after time at South Salem center


    LEWISBORO — It didn't take long for a South Salem wolf and her family to chew their way to freedom in the Arizona wilderness this month. The 3-year-old female, a Mexican gray wolf once held at the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, is among the latest canids to be released in the Southwest to reintroduce the endangered species back to its traditional range.

    The female, her mate and their two 11-week-old pups were taken to a mesh tent in the Apache National Forest in eastern Arizona. Several hours later, the family had torn its way out of the enclosure, said Barry Braden, managing director of the Wolf Conservation Center.

    "It's total validation of our mission," Braden said this week of the July 6 release. "It restores the balance of the ecosystem that was missing when wolves were removed."

    The wolves once roamed Mexico, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico, but as human settlement of the Southwest intensified, the wolf was killed off, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said. In the late 1970s, the last known five Mexican wolves in the world were captured to start a breeding program, Braden said.

    Today there are about 350 Mexican wolves, with about 25 to 50 of them living in the wild, Braden said. They face the challenge of learning how to hunt, Braden said. Another challenge is establishing territory, said Victoria Fox, spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Southwest region. The reintroduction began in 1998.

    "We have very successful pairs (of wolves)," said Fox, whose agency is spearheading the reintroduction effort. "Then you have some that are not so successful."

    Not everyone is pleased with putting the wolves back on the range. Ranchers in Arizona and New Mexico have complained that the predators threaten their livestock, although environmentalists say there are a relatively small number of ranchers opposing the program.

    The South Salem conservation center has 11 Mexican gray wolves. The center is also trying to help the endangered red wolf survive, and on Aug. 3 and 4 the center is hosting the annual meeting of the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan.

    The Wolf Conservation Center received the female Mexican wolf, known as "F838," from the Minnesota Zoo when she was about a year old. She was paired with a male from the Wild Canid Research and Survival Center in Eureka, Mo., and together they had the two pups.

    "We know they (the female and male) have very strong parenting skills," said Kim Scott, the Missouri center's assistant director. "They seem to be very well bonded."

    The two adults have radio collars so they can be tracked. A motion-sensing trail camera recently captured a photo of the female and one of her cubs at a feeding area. Braden noted that the pup has grown considerably since the release.

    "I'd say they're doing pretty well," Braden said.

  • The Journal News
  • Thursday, July 27, 2006

    Wolves near Idaho City learn to chew off radio collars

    IDAHO CITY -- You could call them smart or just lucky, but Idaho Fish and Game is facing a unique problem and biologists don't really know quite how to deal with it. The timberline wolf pack near Idaho City is giving the department a headache because the predators have found a way to chew of their radio collars. That’s how the agency tracks their movement.

    It’s a rare site, a wolf staggering back into the woods after waking from a sedative. The Idaho Fish and Game department just put a radio collar on the two-year-old wolf this summer to follow its progress from the air and ground to learn more about the species, and keep track of Idaho’s wolf population.

    “In order to count the number of wolves, radio collaring is the best technique that we know of,” said Steve Nadeau, Idaho Fish and Game Department. It’s a technique that takes a lot of time and effort. The wolves are trapped and sedated so that biologists can then place the heavy leather collar on the wolf. But now the timberline wolf pack is frustrating the department, and creating more work for biologists.

    The wolves have learned how to chew off their radio collars.

    “It is rather unique, probably one radio collar or one pack in 20 or 30 might learn to chew the radio collars. I think it might be a boredom thing. They look at it and wonder what that new necklace is all about and then they start chewing on it,” said Nadeau. Fish and Game usually replaces radio collars on wolf packs every three to four years. The timberline wolf pack needs replacements every year.

    “It may just be one wolf out of the pack, or a multiple number, or the young ones, we really don't know right now. The two collars that we have in that pack are still on, but it doesn't mean they are hanging on with a full thread, they could be dangling, we don't know,” said Nadeau.

    What the department does know is that wolves are smart and playful animals. They hope to figure out why or how the wolves learned to chew off these collars. Idaho Fish and Game checks in with radio collared wolves across the state every two to three weeks.

  • Wednesday, July 26, 2006

    Juneau residents seek wolf killer

    Associated Press

    State officials have sanctioned wolf kills as predator control in parts of Interior and Southcentral Alaska. But in Juneau, there's a reward being offered for information leading to the arrest of whoever killed a local wolf out of season about ten days ago.
    About 10 Juneau residents have contributed to offer a three-thousand dollar reward to find out who killed a black wolf on July 16th. The carcass was found at a pullout on Thane Road south of downtown Juneau.

    Author and wildlife advocate Nick Jans contributed to the reward fund. He says residents want to do everything they can to make sure such an event doesn't go unpunished.

    The Alaska Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement is investigating the wolf case. The bureau has put out its own request for information. Tests are being conducted to determine if the wolf is the same animal that has been commonly seen near Mendenhall Lake. That wolf was nicknamed Romeo and was known for playing with dogs accompanying people on walks. A state biologist says the dead wolf was shot several times and its throat was slit.

  • Feds deny Wyoming petition to delist wolves

    By BEN NEARY - Associated Press Writer

    CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The U.S. government on Monday denied a request from Wyoming to remove gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains from the federal list of threatened and endangered species.

    Wyoming officials, concerned that wolves have been killing cattle and domestic sheep and thinning elk herds, had proposed allowing trophy hunting of the animals in certain areas and classifying them as predators that could be shot on sight elsewhere. The state proposed allowing the wolves to live unmolested in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

    In rejecting the state's petition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday that it couldn't remove federal protections for wolves in Wyoming until the state sets firm limits on how many could be killed. The agency also said the state must commit to maintaining a minimum population of the animals. Wyoming is home to an estimated 252 wolves.

    Gov. Dave Freudenthal said Monday that the decision will make it easier for Wyoming to get a judge to decide whether its plan is scientifically adequate. Just hours before Monday's announcement, Freudenthal and state Attorney General Pat Crank released a letter warning the federal agency that the state intended to sue to compel action.

    Ed Bangs, coordinator of the Fish and Wildlife Service's gray wolf recovery effort in Helena, Mont., said Wyoming game managers must be authorized to maintain at least 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves overall in the state in midwinter before the federal agency can agree to remove federal protections. "Our conclusion is that Wyoming law, and its plan, really don't provide enough assurance for us to move forward with delisting at this time," Bangs said.

    Crank said Monday the state is satisfied that providing wolves a haven in the national parks and decreasing protections outside the parks would conserve the population. Elk calf numbers have dropped from as high as 30 per 100 of the elk population during the winter to below 10 per 100 in areas where there are many wolves, he said.

    Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, a coalition representing agriculture interests, sportsmen and others, said he lost 51 sheep last year and has lost 12 so far this year. "I think what we're seeing is the wolves are dispersing more and more across the state," Magagna said.

  • Houston Chronicle
  • Program for Mexican gray wolves to continue

    Michael Clancy - The Arizona Republic

    Mexican gray wolves, one of the state's key links to its wild roots, will continue to roam in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday. The decision to continue a wolf reintroduction program was made in spite of opposition from ranchers who succeeded in having a dozen wolves killed in recent months because the wolves attacked their cattle. Continuing the program was also one of the key recommendations in a five-year review of the Mexican Wolf Blue Range Reintroduction Project in Arizona and New Mexico.

    Other recommendations that will be considered include:

    • Expanding wolves' range, which covers portions of the White Mountain Apache Reservation and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in Arizona and the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. No details were provided; the issue will be studied further.

    • Allowing the number of wolves to increase naturally, although that will depend on the results of the range study and further scientific review of the program.

    • Requiring ranchers to adapt their practices to minimize wolf kills by removing carcasses of dead animals that wolves feed upon and by adjusting calving times so they take place at the same time elk, the wolves' preferred food, are giving birth.

    Each of those recommendations would have to undergo study, and some may have to be included in broader planning aimed at wolf survival. Bigger studies about range and the project as a whole also will be carried out, with final results possibly in six years. But for now, the wolves have succeeded in returning to the wild in the eight years since they first were released near Hannagan Meadow in the White Mountains.

    "They can maintain themselves in the wild with native prey, they can reproduce and raise litters, and they can find each other and start new packs," said Bill Van Pelt, endangered species coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. "These things suggest successful reintroduction can occur. The greatest challenge right now is humans."

    First placed in 1998

    The Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees endangered-species recovery nationwide, decided to continue the reintroduction program by accepting 37 recommendations of a five-agency group that oversees the Mexican wolf reintroduction. The recommendations were the result of a required, but belated, five-year review of the project, which placed its first wolves in the wild in 1998.

    Benjamin Tuggle, acting southwest regional director for the service, said the recommendations "will greatly improve the effectiveness of the Mexican wolf program." He spoke at a telephone news conference Tuesday morning.

    An estimated 45 to 60 wolves, not counting newborn pups, live on their own in the wild lands along the eastern border of Arizona and the highlands of western New Mexico, said John Morgart, Mexican wolf recovery coordinator for the service.

    That is far short of the 100 wild wolves predicted for 2006 when the program started. But the wolves exist under tight restrictions on where they may go, how many may exist, and what they may eat.

    Wolf foes speak out

    Ranchers and other residents of the wolf recovery area have opposed the program because, they say, wolves pose a threat to their livelihoods, their pets, maybe even their children. Now, wolves may be trapped and relocated or even killed after they kill livestock.

    Much of the organized opposition has been in New Mexico, where a ranchers group and an organization that represents counties lost a lawsuit in 2005 aimed at ending the program. Two wolf packs, one in Arizona and one in New Mexico, recently were removed after confirmation that the packs had killed and fed upon cattle. A dozen animals died, including six wild-born pups. Alternatively, conservation groups like Defenders of Wildlife say the wolves would thrive if they had more territory and fewer restrictions.

    3 areas covered

    The recommendations broadly cover three areas: territory, population and attacks on livestock, or depredation.

    No specific expansion was identified, but Eva Sargent of Defenders of Wildlife, which reimburses ranchers for cattle lost to wolves, said her organization would like to see consideration of southeastern Arizona's mountain ranges, known as the Sky Islands, and the Grand Canyon area.

    Morgart also said the service would complete a recovery plan for the wolves, as recommended, but that the other steps must be taken first.

    Sargent said a recovery plan, aimed at the wolves' permanent survival in the wild, should be completed before target numbers of animals are established. The recommendations say the objective should be to maintain a total of at least 100 wolves, with 125 as a higher level that, Van Pelt said, would trigger discussion about wolf removal. Sargent argued the number is arbitrary and established without scientific review.

    Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity called the 125 number a cap on the population that would prevent recovery. Robinson even challenged the possibility of territorial expansion, saying it is a "poison pill" that will "sabotage wolf recovery."

    Both boundary changes and a recovery plan would have to go through a comprehensive process of decision-making, public comment, environmental-impact statements and final decisions, Morgart said, similar to the process that led to the reintroduction in the first place.

    The group overseeing recovery may proceed, he said, with several recommendations, including development of an incentive program to limit livestock kills and formation of a science and research advisory committee to review the project as a whole.

  • Arizona Republic
  • Isle Royale is a study in moose, wolves

    BY BOB DOWNING - McClatchy-Tribune Services

    ISLE ROYALE NATIONAL PARK, Mich. - It was a chance to meet a hero, even if it was only for 15 minutes. I had joined a tour to the 1855 Rock Harbor Lighthouse and the Edisen Fishery at America's least-visited national park, an island in northwest Lake Superior 55 miles off the Michigan coast. The old-time Lake Superior fisherman Les Mattson told visitors to the old fishing camp that the island's famed wolf-moose researchers, Rolf and Carolyn "Candy" Peterson, lived just down the shore.

    Rolf Peterson has spent 35 years studying the dynamics between Isle Royale's most famous residents: moose and wolves. He appears frequently in National Geographic and on television news reports. He is to moose and wolves what Jane Goodall is to chimps and Dian Fossey is to mountain gorillas: the iconic scientist.

    I checked with the crew of the cruise boat and was told the Peterson's encampment was a quarter mile down a trail through the woods and that we'd be departing in a half-hour. I hustled down the trail and arrived at the encampment just as the Petersons were coming ashore in a skiff. I called out, asking whether visitors were welcome. I was assured that they were. That's because the research is supported by public funds from the National Park Service and the National Science Foundation.

    Candy even gave me a brief tour of the compound, which doubles as an eye-opening moose graveyard. Bones are everywhere in the yard: skulls, femurs, jaws and other body parts. Bones on planks in the sunlight in one area are this year's bones, and Candy said the researchers probably find and collect only one-third of the available bones. In another shaded grove sit 400 moose skulls, complete with antlers, which the researchers have collected on Isle Royale since 1958. It was an impressive and spooky sight: a shrine to the island's moose. Studying the bones allows scientists to determine the size and the health of the moose.

    In 2005, Isle Royale had about 540 moose and 30 eastern timber wolves. That represented an increase of one wolf over the previous year and it was the third year in a row that moose numbers have declined. Isle Royale's isolation and the minimal human impact have made it a great place to study the dynamics between moose and wolves for the last 47 years.

    The Norwegian flag was flying over the Petersons' cabins, once a Lake Superior fishing camp. The camp with its wood plank walls and tin roofs looks like something out of "Lord of the Rings." Candy gave Rolf, a professor at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, a front-yard haircut as I tromped through their camp, following the hand-lettered signs they had posted to guide visitors when they're not around. Their only request: Please sign the guest book.

    Their encampment includes a small fenced-off grave where up to 20 miners may be buried in the wake of a drunken brawl between mining camps in the 1850s. At least that's what the handwritten sign on the picket fence reads. Another sign tells visitors that calves account for one-third of moose that are killed annually by the wolves. It also noted that the typical wolf-killed moose is 12 years old and suffering from osteoporosis, arthritis and periodontal disease.

    The Petersons' research is done in the summer and again when the park is shut down in the winter. There are winter flyovers to locate wolf-killed moose. Then researchers snowshoe in to retrieve up to 70 pounds of moose remains, including bones, teeth and fat. In the summer, the research includes trapping and fitting wolves with radio collarings and tracking them from the ground and the air.

    Rolf Peterson said the changing wolf-moose numbers on Isle Royale may be linked to global warming. The moose decline appears to be linked to increasing stress from hot summers and a tick infestation that weakens the moose and is triggered by milder winters, he said. One moose may have up to 30,000 of the biting insects. The more ticks, the more blood and hair loss and the weaker the moose get. It is a worldwide problem, according to Peterson.

    Moose on Isle Royale have also had trouble finding food the last two winters because of snow and that has hurt their numbers, he said. The first moose arrived on Isle Royale about 1900. It is believed that hunger on the Canadian mainland drove the moose to swim to Isle Royale. They found plenty to eat and no predators, and their numbers soared to 3,000 by 1930. Moose numbers went up, then crashed after they ate up the available food.

    Typically, there are between 800 and 1,200 moose on the island now. About 15 percent of the population dies annually from wolves and starvation. Moose numbers grow in years with mild winters, early spring greening, abundant winter forage, low wolf numbers and low levels of tick infestation.

    Moose also have a big impact on Isle Royale's forest cover. They are most likely to be found at the eastern and western ends of the islands and around campgrounds where they know they are safe from wolves.

    The first wolves crossed Lake Superior on the ice in 1948-49. Other darker wolves arrived in 1967. Typically, the island has 15 to 25 wolves in three packs and several loners. Wolves lose 20 to 25 percent of their population each year. Wolves are rarely seen on Isle Royale, not with its thick vegetation. You might hear their howls at night and you are likely to see droppings along the trails. Wolf packs kill moose every four to 10 days.

    The Petersons get a boost in the summer from Earthwatch volunteers. The nonprofit group offers the public a chance to backpack with Rolf Peterson on Isle Royale to look for moose. Volunteers pay $800-a-person tax-deductible donations. For information, call 800-776-0188 or check out the Internet at

    You can learn about Peterson's research at

    The park itself has a limited season. It is open from mid-April through October. You can get there via four ferries from cities in Michigan and Minnesota. Isle Royale -- it is 45 miles long and up to 9 miles wide -- is a wilderness island with no roads, no bikes, no vehicles and few signs of man. Backpackers love the park with its 165 miles of trails.

  • Wichita Eagle
  • As captive wolves die off, Winchester center ponders the future


    WINCHESTER, Idaho -- The Wolf Education and Research Center, opened in 1997 to showcase wolves in their natural habitat, is at a crossroads now that populations of the native predators in Idaho have rebounded through a federal reintroduction program. At the end of the month, the center's board of directors will meet to plan for the future.

    "We still feel there's a need for the center to be there," said staff member Nick Fiore, who works at the center's Lewiston office. "We feel like we still have a purpose when it comes to education about the wolf."

    Currently, only one wolf remains from the center's original pack of eight. That pack was featured in Sun Valley filmmaker Jim Dutcher's documentary "Return of the Legend." Three other wolves at the center are offspring of the pack's original alpha male and female. The lone survivor from the inaugural pack, Motomo, is now 14, and the three pups - Piyip, Ayet and Motoki - are fully grown 10-year-olds. The wolves are all healthy, Fiore said, but they are reaching the end of their life span. For captive wolves, that's usually between 10 and 16 years, she said.

    The center rents about 300 acres from the Nez Perce Tribe. The 15-year lease began in January 1997, and will expire in 2011. Fiore said the tribe will likely renew the lease when it expires, but nothing is certain. "We have a lot of researching to do before approaching the tribe," Fiore said. "I can't think of a reason in my mind why they wouldn't want us here, but we still need two plans."

    If the tribe renews the lease, the center's board of directors would have to decide whether to buy new wolf pups. "When you bring pups in you have to have round-the-clock coverage for at least six weeks," Fiore said. "You only have about a week to form a bond with wolf pups and humans." Another option would be to transfer in 2- or 3-year-old wolves from other overcrowded wolf reserves throughout the West.

    When the center opened in 1997, handlers developed a unique policy of minimal contact between staff and wolves, allowing the animals to live as they would in nature. Aside from immunizations, they did not receive veterinary care.

    In 2000, the staff altered the philosophy after the deaths of two wolves, Kamots and Weyekin who were rejected by the pack. "After June 2000, there was a whole change of policies," Fiore said. "I think it was a good thing the organization adapted to that. Now if we feel there's an issue with the safety of an animal we will take them out of there." A second 2 1/4-acre enclosure was built to accommodate wolves spurned by the pack. Staff transferred two wolves, Matsi and Amani, to the safe area.

    The center is far from a petting zoo, but biologist, Jeremy Heft, fears the policy shift could spell a marked change in mission if the center acquires more wolves. Heft, who has worked at the center for more than eight years, said he disapproves of the captive breeding of wolves. Captive pups might act more like domestic dogs than wolves. "The whole organization could change completely," he said.

    All future plans will also fit into a strategy of bolstering visits. The center averages about 3,000 visitors per year, down from the 5,000 annual visits in the early years. The problem is, sometimes visitors will leave without ever having seen a wolf. "If the wolves want to come down they come down. If they don't, they don't," Fiore said.

    So Fiore is aiming to add other exhibits to complement the live wolves. One of the goals is to build several yurt-style structures, which would hold interactive displays on large predators, water sheds and the Nez Perce Tribe's history. "Being an educational facility you have to move forward," he said. "I see a lot of promise for the center as far as development of other interpretive centers on the site."

  • Seattle Post-Intelligencer
  • Friday, July 21, 2006

    Minnesota Zoo releases wolf into the wild

    by Jeff Achen - Thisweek Newspapers

    It was a unique opportunity for the Minnesota Zoo and its primary wolf zookeeper, Jackie Fallon, to take part in the reintroduction of an endangered species. It was also a difficult goodbye.

    Last year, Fallon sent one of the Mexican gray wolves she cares for to a temporary holding facility in New York. In November, “Alita,” a 3-year-old female, arrived in New Mexico where she bred with another wolf. On July 6, wildlife biologists placed Alita, her mate, and both of their 3-month-old pups near Middle Mountain in the Apache National Forest.

    Fallon said the zoo’s participation in the release is something zoos don’t often get to be a part of. As the focus of modern zoos becomes more and more about participation in conservation and recovery of animals in the wild, reintroduction is one goal zookeepers get excited about. “That’s a goal that zoos often don’t get to accomplish,” Fallon said.

    Fallon admits that it’s human nature to get attached to the animals she cares for, and that it wasn’t easy to say goodbye to Alita, but it’s more important to her to see the animals released into the wild.

    The first captive Mexican gray wolves were released in 1998, but Fallon said those first 11 wolves were more genetically common. The release of Alita is unique because she has all three lineages of the Mexican gray wolf in her blood, making her extremely genetically valuable. “It’s really important to bring in new bloodlines to the wild and the only way to do that is to bring in captive wolves,” Fallon said. “She’s not closely related to any of the wolves in the wild.”

    There are only about 300 or so Mexican gray wolves in captivity and 30 to 50 in the wild.

    The reintroduction is a cooperative effort of the Arizona and New Mexico Game and Fish departments, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the White Mountain Apache Tribe and the USDA Forest and USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services.

    The Minnesota Zoo first became involved in the Mexican gray wolf species survival program in 1994 with two females and one male. In 2003, the zoo received an award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for its involvement with the program after the birth of seven pups that year. Alita still has four full brothers at the Minnesota Zoo and Fallon said she’s proud of the care they are able to provide these endangered and genetically valuable creatures.

    The exhibit allows them to roam a bit more freely than traditional zoo habitats, including hunting small game. This will prepare them for release into the wild if there comes another call for their valuable genetics.

    As hard as it may be to say more goodbyes, Fallon will be glad to see them restored to their natural habitat.

  • This Week
  • Painted wolves move to park

    Merseyside is helping to save a rare hunting dog from extinction.

    Larry Neild - Daily Post

    KNOWSLEY Safari Park has gone to the dogs - to help save one of the world's most endangered canines. Twelve African Hunting Dogs - also known as African Wild Dogs, Cape Hunting Dogs or Painted Dogs - are happily settling into their new home on Merseyside.

    The dogs are perfectly built for chasing prey, with light bodies, long legs and massive jaws. They have large oval ears to combat the heat, especially useful as they settle into their new home in sun-scorched Merseyside.

    Visitors to the park can now see the only breeding pack of the very rare dogs in the north west, after the park acquired them from Port Lympne Wild Animal Park near Hythe in Kent.

    The Latin name for the dog - lycoan pictus - literally means painted wolf which reflects its colourful coat of brown, black, yellow and white patches. Rather like fingerprints in humans, no two dogs have exactly the same pattern on their fur.

    In the wild, the dogs roam over large areas of the grasslands and savanna plains of East Africa. They are exclusively carnivorous, eating everything from rodents and hares up to medium-sized antelope and gazelle and in some cases even killing larger prey like wildebeest and zebra.

    African Hunting Dogs have an amazing social structure, living in packs of six to 20 animals. Led by a dominant (alpha) pair, it is usually only this pair that breed, with litters averaging about 10 pups. However, all the remaining - mostly male -members of the pack help to raise the pups, babysitting and bringing food to the youngsters.

    There is a high degree of social interaction between pack members, who communicate with each other using calls and body postures. They have elaborate greeting rituals, accompanied by twittering and whining, and take part in an unusual bonding ceremony before starting a hunt.

    The park's general manager, David Ross, is delighted with the new acquisition. He said: "The dogs will prove to be one of our most exciting new attractions for years. Given that it's not too hot they are very active animals and I think visitors will really enjoy watching their behaviour and the interesting way they work together as a pack."

    Mr Ross also expects the dogs to breed at Knowsley, which is vitally important because of their endangered status in Africa. He explained: "The dogs have suffered a catastrophic drop in numbers in recent years and the latest estimates suggest there are only around 3,000 left in the wild.

    "Because they attack livestock they have been widely hunted by man, but they have also been affected by diseases like canine distemper and by reductions in the populations of their prey. In some parts of Africa they are now close to extinction, which is why we are delighted to be joining forces with other zoos and parks around the world to breed them in captivity."

  • IC Liverpool
  • Spanish Mowgli shows how to make friends with the wolves

    By Graham Keeley in Barcelona

    He is the Spanish Mowgli, a boy who grew up alongside a pack of wolves.

    Like Rudyard Kipling'sJungle Book character, Fernando Peralta learnt about life from inside the lair of some of the world's fiercest animals. He was reared with seven wolves and two lions in a wild animal reserve near Madrid. "When I was born, my mother had nine cubs in the house," he says. "Seven were wolves, two were lions. I was the tenth."

    Now the 27-year-old is the only human who can come close to Richi, an Iberian wolf which Fernando calls his best friend. He feeds Richi by hand, and often behaves like the other wolves, defending himself from any threats by growling and baring his teeth. Since Richi was born 18 months ago and the first thing he saw was Fernando's face, a bond has grown between man and wolf. But in rare moments of aggression from the 30kg animal, Fernando responds by biting back to keep his charge in check. "At the first sign, I have to respond. Wolves always try to establish their superiority," he says.

    He takes Richi to summer courses at Madrid's Complutense University to show people how to deal with wild animals. Escorted around the campus on a thick leash, Richi has become the centre of attention among wary students.

    Fernando, whose lupine features make him look uncannily like his charge, insists on feeding Richi himself, on dried meat. "If I stopped doing that and put the meat on a plate, he'd soon start marking his territory and wouldn't let me get near him," says Fernando.

    He lives at the Fauna y Accion centre in Los Santos de la Humosa near Madrid, where 400 animals, including wolves, jaguars, panthers, snakes and falcons, are bred for use in nature documentaries.

    Already, Fernando's unique relationship with Richi and the other wolves has been the subject of two natural history documentaries about Iberian wildlife.

    Fernando's late father was an expert falconer who ran the Madrid Safari Park and took part in a series of wildlife documentaries. He died when Fernando was 13, and the boy left school to care for the animals with his brother. "I don't regret leaving school. If I had spent all this time studying biology, I wouldn't know as much as I do about animals," he says. "One thing is theory. The other is venturing into the wolf's lair."

    Though the Iberian wolf had been threatened almost to the point of extinction up to the 1970s, a pioneering series of documentaries by a Spanish filmmaker, Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente, helped to change attitudes.

    Spain is now one of the last refuges in Europe outside Russia for the wild wolf which has been hunted out of Britain and many other parts of Europe.

  • The Independent
  • Wolf Found Shot on Juneau's Thane Road

    Genetic tests planned to determine if body belongs to Romeo

    Elizabeth Bluemink - Juneau Empire

    Brian Wallace - Juneau Empire

    The discovery of a dead, illegally shot black wolf next to Juneau's Thane Road this week has sparked local outrage and a state wildlife investigation. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the shooting on Wednesday and the state Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement is looking for suspects. The black wolf, discovered next to Thane Road on Monday, was likely shot on Sunday, biologists said Wednesday.

    Many in Juneau fear the dead animal is Romeo, Juneau's celebrity wolf. Genetic tests are planned to determine if the dead wolf is indeed the solitary black male that has frequented the Mendenhall Valley since 2003, state biologists said. If this wolf is Romeo - nicknamed for his apparent "love" of dogs - "this is a real feeling of letdown for the whole community," said Laurie Craig, a Juneau naturalist.

    Law enforcement officers want anyone with information about the shooting to call their Juneau post at (907) 465-4000, said state Trooper Todd Machacek. The shooter of the wolf broke several state hunting regulations: taking a wolf out of season; failing to salvage a game animal; and possibly killing big game within a quarter-mile of a road. All are misdemeanor offenses, punishable by a $10,000 fine and a year in jail. The shooting also may have violated a city rule that bans the discharge of a gun within a quarter-mile of a public road.

    Thane residents said Wednesday the dead wolf was first discovered Monday by a berry picker who found it lying next to a pullout on Thane Road, just north of Sheep Creek. After talking to the berry picker, a Thane resident reported the carcass to Juneau Animal Control staff, who then contacted Fish and Game.

    A necropsy of the wolf showed it was fatally shot two or three times, in the skull and back, said Fish and Game Juneau area management biologist Neil Barten. The stomach contents showed the wolf had recently eaten fish and deer, Barten said.

    "It's really sad. I don't know why somebody would do this," Thane resident Paula Terrel said. A Thane neighbor reported seeing a black wolf coming out a neighborhood driveway a few days earlier, Terrel said. "We think this (shooting) happened along Thane," Terrel said.

    Right now, it's impossible to tell whether the wolf was killed along Thane Road or dumped there after it was shot in another location, Barten said. He sent the wolf pelt to a Fairbanks biologist to determine if it was lice-infested. Romeo was suspected to have lice, due to some discoloration seen on his fur in the past winter. Barten also plans to send off a tooth to determine the wolf's age; for genetic analysis, hair and tissue samples from the wolf found along Thane Road will be compared with samples previously collected from Romeo. The genetic analysis could take up to several months, Barten said.

    Illegal wolf shootings are not uncommon in Southeast Alaska. In fact, illegal wolf killings could be a third of the total wolf harvest in the region, said Dave Persons, Tongass National Forest biologist. In a 1993-2001 study of 59 radio-collared wolves, 34 of the animals were killed by trapping and hunting. "Half of those were killed illegally," Persons said. In three instances, Persons found wolves shot dead in the live traps he had set for his scientific work along Prince of Wales Island logging roads. Some people dislike wolves because they are predators, he said.

    Many in Juneau had a different attitude about wolves. For example, many in town erupted in outrage in 2002 when a trapper legally killed a pack of wolves - at the time, a popular subject for local wildlife viewing - on Douglas Island. Another wolf debate cropped up in Juneau last year, when Romeo was accused by a pet owner of killing his miniature beagle. The pet owner asked that the wolf be killed or relocated. No such action was taken. Hikers and skiers continued to allow their dogs to play with the black wolf.

    "This little niche made perfect sense to him in the winter," said Nick Jans, a Juneau author and wildlife advocate who has written a couple of magazine essays about the black wolf frequenting Mendenhall Lake. The black wolf was easily spotted in the winter, when vegetation was covered in snow and people walked and skied on the lake.

    Wolves can range up to 100 square miles, depending on their food sources. All of the major drainages around Juneau - from the Katzehin to the Taku River - are believed to contain wolf packs, biologists said Wednesday.

  • Juneau Empire
  • New wolf pack at Sevilleta will soon be released

    Evelyn Cronce - El Defensor Chieftain Reporter,

    A pack of four Mexican gray wolves will be placed in a temporary holding pen, located near Middle Mountain in the Apache National Forest, in preparation for the endangered animals' release in Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department officials say the wolves will be moved to the pen site this month in order to meet ongoing wolf reintroduction objectives. The pack is currently at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in northern Socorro County.

    The Meridian pack consists of an alpha male and female and two pups. Maggie Dwire, for the New Mexico Wolf Project, said that the male came from a research facility in St. Louis while the female is from a Minneapolis zoo.

    Kim King-Wrenn, outdoor recreation planner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Sevilleta, explained how the two wolves got together. She said that representatives from all of the 40-plus zoos and research centers get together once a year. One person is in charge of the studbook. At that time, the agencies see who has wolves that can be bred as well as who has the facilities and financial resources necessary to establish a pack with pups. The wolf project looks for compatible males and females that are not already genetically represented in the wild population.

    King-Wrenn said that this pack is not a replacement for the pack that was recently removed from the recovery area. "The release is part of the ongoing population control," she said. "When there is a sufficiently diverse population in the area, the male pups who come of age and leave their pack, can find a suitable female and begin a new pack without having to stray outside the recovery area."

    As is usual procedure, the release will take place quietly, with no fanfare or ceremony to ease the pack's transition into the new environment. The pack will stay in a nylon mesh, low-impact acclimation pen for up to two weeks If the wolves do not release themselves by the end of that period, then wolf project biologists will free them. The pen site in Arizona will have a signed, one-mile public closure surrounding it, ordered by the USDA Forest Service, to protect the wolves from disturbance. The closure will remain in effect while the wolves occupy the area.

    "The Meridian pack release is part of an interagency program begun in 1998 to reintroduce Mexican wolves to a portion of their historic habitat in east-central Arizona and southwestern New Mexico," said Shawn Farry, the department's wolf project field team leader, in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service press release. "With this release, we are attempting to augment the breeding wolf population now in the wild and also to maintain the genetic diversity of the current population. "Existing packs are doing well, with most producing pups this year, and new packs are forming. The Meridian pack will join nine other packs now living in the wild in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in Arizona and New Mexico," he said.

    The reintroduction of the Mexican gray wolf is a cooperative, multi-agency effort of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, White Mountain Apache Tribe, USDA Forest Service and USDA Wildlife Services.

  • El Defensor Chieftain
  • Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    Huge gray wolf snatches dog from yard

    Dan Bergan - The Daily Tribune

    HIBBING — No one likes to think of himself or his pets as being on the bottom of the food chain. But that possibility became horrible reality Saturday for a rural Hibbing family as their dachshund Buddy was grabbed by a wolf right in front of their eyes and carried off into the woods.

    Sandy Harmon was baby-sitting for her sister Colleen McCormack and her husband, David, at 3056 Anderson Road about four miles south of the Wagon Wheel Tavern Saturday morning when she let the two family pet dogs out the front door at about 9:30. As she herself exited the home from another door while carrying a child in her arms, she heard a squeal from the yard and turned to see “the biggest dog I had ever seen” with the 10- pound pet in its mouth.

    But the aggressor was no dog, she soon realized. The invader had seized the dachshund by the throat and was headed towards Anderson road but 20 yards away. Huge and gray with a small tinge of black fur, the attacker was obviously the same wolf that had been seen in the area previously.

    Sandy put down the child and chased after the wolf, screaming at the animal, with neighboring brother-in-law Kenny Greenwood, alerted by the commotion, also giving chase–all to no avail. Even the pursuit of the wolf by the second family pet, a 50-pound lab mix named Lily Ann, had no effect on the predator. The wolf calmly trotted south down Anderson Road, even stopping four times to drop its prey and reposition its grip on the helpless animal.

    Greenwood rushed into his house to grab a rifle, hoping that a shot might scare the wolf into dropping the dog. But by the time he returned, the wolf had loped a quarter mile away and ducked into the woods. An immediate search down the path the wolf had taken and later ATV searches deeper into the woods yielded nothing. No blood, hair, nor carcass.

    This wolf simply was “just not afraid,” said Greenwood with a shake of his head. “We’ve lived out here all our lives and have seen brush wolves and an occasional timber wolf,” he reported. “But this wolf came right into our yard in the middle of the day.”

    Numbers of neighbors have reported seeing a wolf during the past months, with one reporting that a wolf had “got his cat” just last week and another having lost two calves to the same animal earlier this spring.

    A call to the DNR yielded little satisfaction to the family. They were told that there was “nothing the DNR could do” because of the federally protected status of the wolf and that shooting the animal could bring a $10,000 fine.

    “Our kids live outside–always have,” noted Sharon Greenwood, who had run to guard the baby left on the ground by her sister as husband, Kenny, and Sandy pursued the wolf. “Now we’re told to keep the animals and pets in the house,” she complained, disappointed by lack of sympathy or even response from the game wardens contacted.

    The wolf had free range chickens and plenty of rabbits in the surrounding woods to choose from and instead elected to invade the family front yard, a choice which frightens the close-knit family. Kenny theorizes that the wolf might be a youngster or old male turned out by the pack, a common trait among wolves.

    Regardless of motivation or inclination, the wolf still is running loose, and the family hopes that reporting the incident might warn others of its presence and potential danger. Residents along Anderson Road in particular need to be aware of the danger and take precautions with pets and children.

  • Hibbing Daily Tribune
  • Wildlife Officers Seize Wolf Pups From Home

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Two wolf pups were in the care of a St. Johns County preserve after being removed from a Jacksonville home.

    State wildlife officials said a couple in the area had received three misdemeanor citations for having the wolves without proper permits. Officials said they bought the pups from a breeder in Texas, where it is legal to have wolves as pets. But they need certain permits to have them in Florida.

    There were now 11 wolves at the St. Augustine Wild Reserve, including five from singer Michael Jackson. Wildlife officials said he gave them to the reserve a few years ago from his Neverland Ranch in California.

    There were about 100 animals in all at the sanctuary, including cougars, bobcats and lemurs.

  • Wolf Management Group Meets to Provide Guidance to DNR

    An advisory group of 20 diverse stakeholders has started a series of meetings to provide recommendations to the Department of Natural Resources for guiding principles for managing Michigan's wolves and wolf-related issues if the gray wolf is removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species. The group, called the Michigan Wolf Management Roundtable, recently held its first meeting in Newberry.

    "This is a great example of stakeholder groups working together in the best interest of Michigan's citizens and natural resources," said Bill Moritz, Wildlife Division chief, who met with the group last Saturday. "Many of these groups have divergent perspectives on wolf management, yet they have made a significant commitment to come together and discuss these issues to craft useful recommendations for the DNR."

    The wolf population in Michigan has met all the delisting criteria identified in both federal and state recovery plans. The recovery has prompted the DNR to revise the state wolf management plan in anticipation of shifting management authority from the federal government to the state.

    DNR Wildlife Division Endangered Species Coordinator Todd Hogrefe said the DNR believes the citizens of Michigan have a significant interest and stake in the future management of wolves and should have an opportunity to deliberate on issues concerning that management.

    "We believe public input is critical to the DNR planning process. This roundtable is an important step in producing a plan that ensures the viability of the wolf population while taking into account the diverse values of Michigan's citizens," Hogrefe said.

    The roundtable is planning to meet throughout the summer and fall and will provide a list of recommendations to the DNR by the end of the year. The recommendations will be included in a draft wolf management plan which is slated for public review in March 2007.

  • Michigan DNR
  • DNR reports U.P. wolf numbers up slightly

    By JACK STOREY/The Evening News

    UPPER PENINSULA - Last winter's Department of Natural Resources wolf count found an estimated seven percent increase in the Upper Peninsula's native wolf population, but no sign of wolves in northern lower Michigan.

    Across the U.P., however, DNR estimates of the wolf population rose to 434 resident animals - up somewhat from the 405 estimated last year. DNR official Brian Roell at the Marquette regional office said wolf numbers are down somewhat in the Eastern U.P., up in the west end region and about the same as last year in the central U.P.

    The annual wolf count is based on winter tracking, collared animals and air surveys conducted during winter months, when the carnivores are easier to spot.

    A DNR tracking team found no evidence of resident wolves in northern lower Michigan, where some wolf activity was reported in 2004. Three wolves were documented from Presque Isle County in 2004 - the first time the animals were spotted in lower Michigan in some 60 years.

    While U.P. wolf numbers are up slightly, Roell said wolf complaints across the peninsula remained about the same as in 2005. “We may be seeing more tolerance,” he said of the flat complaint numbers.

    He added that wolf depredation, or incidents of wolves taking farm animals or pets, is about the same this year as in 2005 with nine incidents reported. Both recent years are down significantly from 2004, when 16 depredation incidents were reported to the DNR.

    Roell said winter wolf estimates are not an exact census. “No way can we count every one,” he said of the annual count. While he acknowledged that trackers could be 50 or 60 animals off an exact count in either direction, DNR is confident wolves are not twice or half the estimates stated.

    He said so-called “lone wolves” wandering on their own are much harder to count than the packs of several animals most often seen in the wild.

    Last winter's increase in wolf count follows a pattern set in 1989, after a decade or more of occasional wolf sightings across the Upper Peninsula. In every wolf survey but one since 1989, wolf number estimates have risen as the animals continue to reclaim their ancient habitat.

    The survey in 1997 showed a slight decline in wolf numbers, according to a DNR statement.

    The DNR encourages any citizen who sights a gray wolf to notify the nearest DNR office to report the sighting.

    Currently, the gray wolf is a threatened species in Michigan and an endangered species nationwide. Roell noted that both Michigan and U.S. wildlife agencies are considering removing the wolf from either list, both of which bring a measure of protection for the animals.

    The DNR official added that a 22-member Wolf Roundtable, empaneled by the DNR, continues to negotiate terms of “guiding principles” for “wolf management” by the DNR when the species is finally removed from protective status. The citizen panel will ultimately propose a wolf management plan for the day when wolves are “delisted.”

    Roell said the DNR has found no sign that another ancient Michigan predator is making a comeback. He said a wolverine videotaped in the Thumb area of the state a few years ago was likely a lone animal. He suggested that the animal was definitely a wolverine, but likely escaped from an exotic animal farm in the area rather than migrating from the near arctic of northern Ontario, where wolverines are rare but native.

    He said the nature of wolverines is more territorial than the gray wolf, which wanders widely in search of good hunting habitat.

  • Soo Evening News
  • Woman kills neighbor's wolves after they attack dog

    Associated Press

    HANOVER, Ohio - A woman fatally shot two of her neighbor's wolves and a sheriff's deputy killed a third after the animals escaped their pen and attacked one of the woman's three dogs.

    Kathy Bryan went into her backyard Sunday morning to check her barking dogs and saw her beagle, Roo, being attacked by a wolf. Bryan fired a warning shot and the wolf dropped the dog, but the three wolves then circled the woman. She killed two with shotgun blasts, and a sheriff's deputy tracked down the third.

    "I felt bad shooting them," Bryan said. "I cried and then I cried. It wasn't their fault. They shouldn't have been there."

    The wolves were owned by a neighbor, Robert Pitt, who has kept exotic pets in the past and currently has permits to keep a bobcat, coyote and raccoon on his property in Hanover, about 50 miles east of Columbus. The state does not require a permit to own wolves.

    Pitt declined comment, but police reports show he agreed with the need to kill his wolves.

    Bryan said she was unaware her neighbor was keeping wolves and that she had complained about his animals in the past.

    The beagle suffered bite marks to his neck and back.

  • Akron Beacon Journal
  • Saturday, July 15, 2006

    Wolf Center's Lucas dies of chronic spine condition, old age

    Animal was sole male in the Exhibit Pack from 1993-2000

    STAFF REPORT - Mesabi Daily News

    ELY — Lucas, one of the International Wolf Center’s ambassador wolves, was euthanized Tuesday at the Center in Ely, a IWC news release said. After several days of observation and consultation by wolf care staff and area veterinarians, it was determined Lucas would not recover from a chronic, degenerative spinal condition and other age-related issues.

    Lucas, 13, was the sole male in the Exhibit Pack from his birth in 1993 to 2000. Wolves in the wild may live eight to 10 years. Captive wolves sometimes live as long as 14 to 16 years.

    “We are saddened by Lucas’ death, but it was very apparent by the amount of pain he was in that it was his time to go,” said Wolf Curator Lori Schmidt. “He’s been with us more than 13 years, since he was about 10 days old. He lived a long life and was surrounded by compassionate staff members when he was euthanized.”

    Jim Williams, Assistant Director for Education explained, “It was first noticed that Lucas was having difficulty standing on June 24. Several treatments were attempted and while Lucas had some individual days of improvement, his overall decline continued despite treatment. It was determined that euthanization was the most humane course of action.”

    Born in the Center’s opening year of 1993, Lucas educated and entertained 600,000 visitors during his life. Lucas was a calm wolf known for his relatively non-aggressive behavior. Lucas’ status as sole male in the Exhibit Pack for seven years contributed to his calm demeanor. In 2000, he and his littermates, Mackenzie and Lakota, were moved into a retirement enclosure, separated from the Exhibit Pack.

    Lucas will be cremated and his ashes will be spread at a location to be determined by Center staff members.

    Founded in 1985, the International Wolf Center is a non-profit educational organization that advances the survival of wolf populations around the world by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wild lands and the human role in their future. The center pursues this mission through educational initiatives that include a membership program, learning vacations, an interpretive center in Northern Minnesota, international conferences, youth outreach programs, teacher education resources and workshops, a quarterly magazine and a Web site,

  • Mesabi Daily News

  • IWC- Lucas' Log
  • Friday, July 14, 2006

    Father of 3 wolf pups missing

    Officials find collar, fear he was killed

    BY MEGGEN LINDSAY - Pioneer Press

    The father of three wolf pups cared for in a Forest Lake sanctuary and delivered this week to the Wisconsin Indian reservation of their birth may be dead. Wildlife conservationists on the Menominee Indian reservation near Green Bay found the gray wolf's tracking collar torn or cut off Wednesday, just a few miles from where the puppies are being held in an outdoor pen. Biologists had hoped to release the motherless pups to their father and had spent the week monitoring and feeding them in preparation.

    "This, unfortunately, shows just how difficult wolf recovery is," said Peggy Callahan, executive director of the Wildlife Science Center where the pups have lived since early May. "Just because killing wolves is illegal doesn't mean it doesn't happen. It does, all too often."

    The pups were brought back to their birthplace Monday with the hope that their father and his new mate would take over parenting duties. A captive wolf at the Forest Lake center had raised them since their mother was found dead near the den on the reservation in early May. Biologists considered it a high-stakes biology experiment.

    "It's been in the back of my mind that the dad was killed, but we're hopeful that's not what happened. It would be so disappointing," Menominee biologist Don Reiter said. "We are going back to the site to examine everything again."

    He found wolf tracks within one mile of the pups' pen after the collar was discovered and is optimistic that the tracks belong to the male or the female he's been spotted with on cameras. "We need any adult wolf out there to come get these puppies," he said. "Wolves can smell each other from two miles away, so hopefully this can still work."

    The male and his companion are the only known wolves in the vicinity, however, and the pups were the first litter born on the reservation in 75 years and hold great significance for the Menominee people.

    Reiter had been baiting the area with deer carcasses to keep the male wolf close, and, sure enough, he was spotted on monitoring cameras a couple of miles away the first night the pups were back.

    Callahan and staff from the center delivered the wolf pups Monday, and the tribe celebrated their return. The Menominee Tribal Legislature welcomed the envoy, and the tribe's drum group played a song of prayer for good luck.

    The pups were too scared to leave their crate and venture outside until everyone left. Slowly, they crept out, Reiter said. "They are still scared," he said. "I watch them playing and wrestling around, but they hide when they see me." That's a good thing. The pups must be afraid of humans and mimic pack behavior to have any chance of survival in the wild.

    Back in Forest Lake, the surrogate mother who had nursed them for months remains anxious, Callahan said. "The minute she saw us and the truck come back, she paced and looked toward the gate where the puppies left," she said. "She just kept looking and looking. "After we left, she called out her other three puppies from the den and licked and checked all of them. She did a great job with the Menominee pups. They are big and beautiful."

    On the reservation, Reiter feeds the pups road-kill deer three times daily and will begin giving them a round of antibiotics over the next few days. He is working to set up more cameras nearby to try to spot any adult wolves. And he also re-rakes the dirt road every day where tracks were spotted to locate new signs.

    He is planning to attempt their release next week. If the release does not work, the pups probably will return to the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake. The pups were facing daunting circumstances before the abandoned tracking collar showed up. They are not old enough to hunt, and could not yet make it on their own. The male, or the female he's with, could reject or harm the pups.

    "When I got there, I was sobered by just how risky it really is for these puppies," Callahan said. "It's a great big wilderness out there, and it has to be the perfect storm of circumstances for this to work."

    But Menominee staff remains confident an adult wolf probably will raise the pups. Reiter and his family go out at night to howl to the pups, hoping that their response will bring in the father. "We're good howlers, but we can't get them to respond yet," he said. "With their surrogate parents, howling was a safety blanket.

    "Here they know they are small and just clam right up. They don't want to howl and let predators know where they are."

  • St. Paul Pioneer Press
  • Wolves are now wild, thanks to sanctuary

    By Greg Jonsson - ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

    A pack of Mexican gray wolves are where they belong - living in the wild within their historic range - because of the efforts of the Wolf Sanctuary in Eureka. The wolves were released last week in Arizona's Apache National Forest through a joint effort of federal and state agencies and an American Indian tribe. The pack includes the alpha male Laredo, born at the Wolf Sanctuary in 2003, his mate, Alita, and their pups.

    The wolves are important because they are among a few wolves with DNA from each of three Mexican wolf lineages, said center director Susan Lindsey. The Wolf Sanctuary - officially the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center - calls the pack the most genetically valuable ever released into the wild.

    A group of Mexican grays captured in the wild was the only lineage known to be pure before advances in genetics in the 1990s helped clear two other groups, Lindsey said.

    Genetic diversity is important to the survival of the growing population of Mexican gray wolves in the American Southwest, which currently numbers about 40 collared animals plus pups and yearlings born in the wild that haven't yet been collared, Lindsey said.

    "We very much believe that by putting as much genetic diversity out there as possible, we're giving them all the playing cards to succeed," she said.

    The wolves were placed in an area enclosed by a mesh fence that the animals can chew through to release themselves. The pens have been shown to ease the release process and encourage packs to stay in the area where they are released, Lindsey said. This pack chewed their way out in five hours.

    The adults have had practice hunting in groups for small game at the Eureka sanctuary and should have no problems feeding themselves and their pups, Lindsey said. All are collared, with the adult female wearing a GPS device that scientists can use to track her movements.

  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • Thursday, July 13, 2006

    Future looks cloudy for Teton wolf pack

    But three new groups have moved into lands around Jackson.

    By Cory Hatch

    Late last summer, an unusual phone call to wolf researcher Mike Jimenez marked the probable end of one of Jackson’s wolf packs. “We got a call that this wolf was sitting on the side of the road and couldn’t get up,” Jimenez said.

    The wolf, the alpha male of the Teton pack, looked emaciated, most of his hind end muscles showing advanced atrophy. Some kind of injury, perhaps a well-placed kick from a prey animal, broke vertebrae in the alpha’s back. “It didn’t affect him immediately, but it finally got the best of him,” Jimenez said. “Going into the breeding season, he was gone.”

    Jimenez euthanized the animal and sent the carcass to a forensics lab in Oregon. Without the alpha, the Teton pack didn’t produce any pups last winter, and its younger members have started to disperse. “We know the pack still exists as a pack,” said Jimenez, explaining that some have traveled all the way down to the Green River area. “Our 2 cents is that it’s no longer functioning as a reproducing pack. Whether they’ll reproduce next year, we don’t know.”

    Despite the Teton pack’s uncertain future, wolves around the area fared well during the past 12 months. Three new packs have moved into the lands surrounding Jackson, bringing the total number of wolves up to about 40, not counting this year’s puppies.

    The Gros Ventre pack started with a male that Jimenez re-collared after the wolf found his way from the Yellowstone area to the Gros Ventre drainage. After wandering around for most of the summer, the wolf found a mate. The two adults produced four pups this spring.

    Over towards the Blackrock area, just east of Moran, nine or 10 adult wolves formed the Buffalo pack. Likely a mix of wolves from the Teton and Yellowstone Delta packs, the Buffalo group produced 10 pups this year.

    Ranging across the bottom end of the valley, four adults formed a group known as the Sage pack. The group started with a black male from the Gibbon Meadows pack in Yellowstone and a collared female wolf that dispersed from the Nez Perce group. Jimenez believes the pack did reproduce but said he wasn’t sure how many pups were born.

    Now two years old, the Pacific Creek pack lives in the Teton Wilderness. The pack’s 10 adult wolves control a sizable home range that extends north. Like the Buffalo pack, the Pacific Creek wolves originated from the Teton and Delta packs.

    Another, more established group of wolves, the Flat Creek pack, ranges east of Jackson in the national forest and sometimes into the National Elk Refuge. The group of six adults produced four pups last year that survived the winter into yearlings. Jimenez said he isn’t sure how many pups the pack produced this year.

    Jimenez said that the turmoil within the Teton pack isn’t abnormal. “It’s pretty typical of wolf packs,” he said. “They come and go. Other packs form and they push packs in and out of the area.”

    At the time of his death, the Teton pack’s alpha was 7 or 8 – the tail end of a gray wolf’s average lifespan. It’s also likely that the female of the pack is very old as well, said Jimenez. Even without the alpha’s debilitating injury, the pack might have started to disperse anyway.

    With the Teton pack’s absence, the Buffalo group has moved into its old territory.

  • Jackson Hole News & Guide
  • Wisconsin wolves kill bear hound

    PARK FALLS Wis. On July 1, wolves killed one Trig Walker hound and injured a second in southwest Lincoln Co. Bear hunters were training the dogs for bear hunting. These were the first reported depredations since the start of the bear hound training season. The season started on July 1 and runs through August 31.

    The depredations have caused the Department of Natural Resources to expand an existing warning area between Merrill and Rib Lake. Dog warning areas are listed on the Department of Natural Resources Web site at

    The depredations on July 1 were apparently by the South Averill Creek Pack, which consisted of 12 wolves last winter. The attack occurred in an area the pack was using as a rendezvous site, a summer home site where wolf packs raise their pups. Packs use rendezvous sites from mid June to late September, after the pups are big enough to leave their den. Adult wolves are very defensive of pups at rendezvous sites, and will attack other predators, including dogs, that get too close to the rendezvous site or the pups.

    A pack will use from two to three to as many as six or more rendezvous sites during the summer. The exact locations vary from year to year and throughout the summer. The sites are usually forest openings or edge areas, with lots of wolf tracks, droppings, and matted vegetation.

    Bear hunters are urged to exercise caution if they plan to train hounds or hunt bear with hounds in this area. The most recent depredation occurred in the southwest portions of Lincoln County, close to Marathon and Taylor counties. Some hunters have had success with bells on dog collars, but some dogs with bells have been attacked by wolves.

    If hunters believe their dogs have been killed or injured by wolves they should contact USDA-Wildlife Services as soon as possible at 1-800-228-1368 in northern Wisconsin and 1-800-433-0688 in central and southern Wisconsin. Wolves are listed as protected wild animals by the State of Wisconsin, and as endangered species by the federal government. The Wisconsin DNR does reimburse for loss of dogs due to wolf depredation.

  • Dunn County News
  • Gray wolf pack fending for selves in N. Arizona forest


    PINETOP-LAKESIDE — A new pack of Mexican gray wolves is now roaming the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. The Arizona Game and Fish Department said Wednesday they brought a male, female and two 3-month-old pups last week to a temporary holding pen about 10 miles southwest of Alpine. Department officials who are tracking the animals said the wolves have since left the pen and appear to be doing well on their own.

    The pack joins nine others in eastern Arizona and New Mexico. The department hopes to slowly increase the population of Mexican gray wolves in that region from 24 to 100.

    "They would be pretty much self-sustaining if they reach that approximate number," department spokesman Bruce Sitko said.
    Sitko said the female wolf was brought in from the Minnesota Zoo. The male came from the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center in Eureka, Mo.

  • Arizona Daily Star
  • Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    Jumeirah wolf follow up-Hunt for a home

    After eluding experts for weeks the Jumeirah Islands wolf has finally been caught.

    The animal, thought to be a cross between a rare Arabian Wolf and a dog, was captured by a group of Bedouin who had staked it out for days. “A lady in Emirates Hills used to feed it biscuits regularly in the evening,” said local resident Andreas Desai, who was involved in the capture.

    “We set a trap at the spot. We hid behind some bushes and while the wolf was eating the biscuits, we shot a tranquiliser at him,” he said. The wolf, unconscious but unharmed, has been taken to a nearby private farm. “The wolf is safe, healthy and fine,” said Desai.

    The capture brings to an end more than a week of hunting by experts, security guards and curious residents. One of the Bedouin, Mohammed, said the location would be revealed soon when it’s been decided what to do with the animal.

    It’s likely it will either go to a zoo or remain on the farm. Arabian Wolves are thought to be virtually extinct in the wild. Residents of Jumeirah Islands and Emirates Hills have been reporting sightings for weeks.

    While most were curious about the rare animal, some were afraid it could be dangerous.

    But despite those fears the ‘hunters’ took their time in catching the animal. “The reason it took so long to capture the wolf was that we did not want to harm it in any way,” said D

  • 7 Days
  • Alaska Woman recovering after wolf attack

    By TIM MOWRY - Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Staff Writer

    Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - An Anchorage woman walking along the Dalton Highway was chased down and bitten twice by a wolf Friday morning in what wildlife officials are calling a "very rare," but not unprecedented, attack.

    "I looked up and I saw (the wolf) just across the road," said Becky Wanamaker, a 25-year-old school teacher. "It came at me and I panicked and ran, which I probably shouldn't have done."

    The long-legged gray and white wolf, only about 20 yards away, chased her down.

    "It sunk its teeth into the back of one of my legs and I kind of stumbled, but I kept running toward the outhouse," she said, referring to one of two outhouses located at the pullout. "I was pretty scared and I remember thinking, 'Don't fall. If you're down on the ground, you're toast.'"

    The wolf bit her a second time, this time in the back of the left leg.

    "I knew the outhouse was there," said Wanamaker, who yelled for help both times she was bitten. "I just wanted to be inside something. I just knew if he knocked me down, I was done for."

    Reaching the outhouse, Wanamaker whipped open the door and locked herself in. Then she checked her wounds. There was an inch-long gash on the inside of her right thigh and three punctures on the back of her right thigh. Her left leg had two punctures, one behind her knee and another on the outside of the knee.

    "Once I got into the outhouse and saw the wounds weren't bleeding profusely, I was able to calm down," said Wanamaker. "It hurt but it wasn't anything excruciating I just praised God that I was OK."

    Wanamaker knew there were some people camping near the other outhouse a short distance away. Looking out and not seeing the wolf anywhere, she decided to try and reach it.

    "I made it into the second outhouse and screamed to wake up the people camping," she said. "I told them I got bit by a wolf."

    The campers helped Wanamaker clean and bandage her wounds before driving her back to the campground where her four friends were camped.

    "They didn't believe me at first," said Wanamaker, who had camped with her friends at the Arctic Circle after driving north to see the Arctic Ocean. "I got out of the car and said, 'Hey, I got bit by a wolf and we've got to leave.' They all started laughing."

    Judging from her description of the animal, state wildlife biologist Mark McNay has little doubt it was a wolf that attacked Wanamaker.

    "She said it was long legged and very lean," said McNay, who studies wolves for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks. "That's the typical thing you see when you see a wolf in the summer. It's all legs and very thin."

    The wounds on Wanamaker's thighs are also consistent with the size of an adult wolf, McNay said, noting that Wanamaker is 5-feet-7-inches tall.

    Attacks by wild, healthy wolves on humans are unusual but not unprecedented, according to McNay, who spent two years researching wolf attacks in North America and came up with 13 such attacks in the past 30 years through the year 2000. Eleven of those attacks involved "habituated" or "food-conditioned" wolves that had lost their fear of people while only two were by non-habituated wolves, he said.

    "They're rare, but they're not unheard of," McNay said of wolf attacks on humans.

    There have been more attacks in the past six years, McNay said. A man was killed by a wolf while hiking in Saskatchewan in 2005 and a jogger was attacked and bitten severely in 2004, also in Saskatchewan.

    In Alaska, there have been a handful of wolf attacks on humans, McNay said. The most recent was six years ago in a Southeast logging camp in Icy Bay when a habituated wolf attacked a 6-year-old boy who was playing in the woods and attempted to flee when he saw the wolf. The boy fell as he was running and the wolf attacked, biting him several times and attempting to drag him away before it was shot, McNay said.

    Other incidents in Alaska include a wolf that charged a hunting guide on the Alaska Peninsula in 1997 and ran away after the guide hit the wolf with his rifle; a wolf that ran toward a boy on the Salcha River in 1996 and was shot by the boy's father; three instances--one in 1974 and two in 1975--in which pipeline workers's hands were bitten while trying to feed wolves; and in 1969 a man shot and killed a wolf that had bitten him at a remote camp at Wien Lake, about 100 miles west of Fairbanks.

    None of the wolves in the above incidents were rabid and McNay doesn't suspect the wolf that attacked Wanamaker was, either. More likely he suspects it was somehow habituated and has lost its normal wariness of people. Based on its behavior and the fact it was alone, McNay speculated it was a young wolf, probably a yearling.

    "Those are the kinds of wolves that are typically by themselves and often show up at campgrounds," he said. "They don't have a whole lot of experience with people."

    Though the wolf bit Wanamaker, it didn't act overly aggressive, said McNay. "It would have had the capability to bring her down to the ground and hold her there had it wanted to," he said.

    Once a wolf becomes habituated to humans "it doesn't have any natural fear or flee response," said McNay. At that point, if a human runs from a habituated wolf it may trigger a wolf-like response, he said.

    In retrospect, Wanamaker realizes running wasn't a good idea and she probably shouldn't have been walking along the road alone, she said. That said, coming face-to-face with a wolf caught her by surprise, said Wanamaker, who moved to Alaska from Portland, Ore., a little over a year ago.

    "I know exactly what to do when I see a bear or a moose," she said. "Nobody tells you what to do when you see a wolf. It was a flight-or-fight experience."

    When it comes to wolves, it's probably better to fight than flee, said McNay. Running from any predator, whether it's a bear or wolf, is futile because they're faster than humans, he said. But he noted that Wanamaker's situation was unique.

    "She had a refuge close at hand," he said, referring to the outhouses.

    The best thing to do if you encounter a wolf is to stop and slowly distance yourself from it while facing the wolf, he said. If the wolf continues approaching, throw sticks, rocks or anything you can find at the wolf while yelling at it, McNay said.

    If a wolf isn't sure something is a prey item, it will demonstrate some inhibition to act aggressively, McNay said.

    "If they think they're going to get the crap beat out of them they're not going to run up and bite someone," he said.

    Whether or not the wolf that bit Wanamaker was habituated is unknown. There had been no previous reports of the wolf in the area, though it could have been lurking around the Arctic Circle pullout without being seen, McNay said.

    "We don't know what its level of exposure is (to people)," he said.

    As for Wanamaker, doctors at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital put one stitch in the gash on her thigh and the puncture wounds are now black-and-blue blotches on her legs. She will undergo a series of five rabies shots in the arm to ensure she isn't infected by rabies. She received her first shot on Friday at the hospital after security personnel at Pump Station 6, where she stopped to get her wounds checked by a medic, called to alert the hospital she was on the way. The vaccine had to be flown from Anchorage to Fairbanks, Wanamaker said.

    By the time she reached the hospital five hours after the incident, Wanamaker was able to laugh about the ordeal. It turned out to be a true Alaska roadtrip, she said.

    "I told the nurse, 'We jumped in the Arctic Ocean yesterday and I got bit by a wolf today,'" said Wanamaker, who teaches deaf children for the Anchorage School District.

    As for the wolf, it hasn't been seen since the attack. Alaska State Troopers asked Alyeska security guards to keep an eye out for the wolf, said Lt. Gary Folger with the Alaska Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement in Fairbanks. If they see it, they've been instructed to shoot it, he said.

    "If we see the wolf we would put it down," said Folger. "It has a documented history of a human attack."

  • Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
  • Latest Yellowstone pup counts

    Ralph Maughan's outstanding website has the latest counts for all the Yellowstone wolf packs. The survival rates are much better than last year's litters, which were decimated by a parvo-like disease:

  • Ralph Maughan's Wildlife Reports
  • Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    Dogs at risk of wolf attacks

    By Rhinelander Daily News Staff

    Dogs, particularly those used for hunting, may be in danger of being attacked by wolves in some parts of the Northwoods.

    The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on Friday reported wolves killed one hound and injured another in southwest Lincoln County. Bear hunters were training the dogs for bear hunting at the time of the attack, according to DNR mammalian ecologist Adrian Wydeven.

    These were the first reported attacks by wolves on dogs since the start of bear hound training season, the DNR noted.

    The attacks have caused the DNR to expand an existing warning area between Merrill and Rib Lake. Dog warning areas are listed on the Department of Natural Resources website at

    The attacks on July were apparently by a pack of wolves known by the agency as the South Averill Creek Pack, which consists of about 12 wolves.

    According to the DNR, the attack occurred in an area the pack was using as a rendezvous site, a summer home site where wolf packs raise their pups. Packs use rendezvous sites from mid-June through late September, after which time pups are big enough to leave the den.

    Attacks occur because adult wolves are very defensive of the pups at the rendezvous sites and will attack other predators, including dogs, that get too close to the site or the pups.

    DNR officials say wolves will visit as many as six rendezvous sites, usually forest openings or edge areas, during the summer. They can be identified by wolf tracks, droppings, and matted vegetation.

    Bear hunters are urged to exercise caution if they plan to train hounds or hunt bear with hounds in these areas. Some hunters have had success putting bells on their dog's collars, but some dogs with bells have been attacked by wolves.

    If hunters believe their dogs have been killed or injured by wolves they should contact the USDA-Wildlife Services as soon as possible at 1-800-228-1368 in northern Wisconsin. Wolves are listed as protected wild animals by the State of Wisconsin and as endangered by the federal government.

    The Wisconsin DNR does reimburse for loss of dogs due to wolf attacks.

  • Rhinelander Daily News
  • Orphaned Wolf Pups Returning To Wild

    (AP) Forest Lake, Minn. Three orphaned wolf pups headed on a road trip across Wisconsin on Monday. Tucked in a crate in the back of a van, the scruffy, motherless little guys traveled to reunite with their dad, a wild gray wolf roaming the Menomonee Indian reservation near Green Bay, Wis.

    The pups are part of a high-stakes biology experiment that scientists in Minnesota and across the border are crossing their fingers over. The puppies have been raised since early May at the Wildlife Science Center outside Forest Lake by a captive wolf serving as a surrogate mother. The pups are now almost 3 months old and weaned.

    They were taken back to their birthplace with the hope that the biological father will take over the parenting duties. "What we're doing here -- this exact thing -- has never been done before," said Peggy Callahan, a wolf biologist and the center's executive director.

    Brenda Nordin, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife technician, discovered the still-lactating mother dead after the animal's radio-tracking collar emitted a mortality signal. She and Menomonee biologist Don Reiter immediately launched a frantic search, eventually hearing mewing and finding five pups nearby in a den carved out of a hollow pine tree trunk.

    "It truly is just plain luck that we found them," she said. The puppies were the first born on tribal land in 75 years and hold a deep significance to the people who live there.

    The Menomonee origin story depicts five clans through which all life and culture flowed. One clan was the wolves, the tribe's hunters. Wolves had been absent from the area for years, although seven were released on the reservation in 2002. Only one from that group is still alive, and she no longer lives there.

    "People here are thrilled about the puppies and having wolves re-established -- especially because there hadn't been much luck in the past," Nordin said. Two in the litter did not make it. One died in Nordin's arms on the way to the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary in Green Bay. Another succumbed after arriving at the Minnesota center two days later.

    Callahan has managed the puppies' care since the reservation biologists and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources asked for help May 8. One of the center's wolf packs had a female who gave birth to three male puppies in early April, so Callahan devised a scheme to add the three additional males to her litter. "We pulled her puppies out of the den, de-wormed all six of them and microchipped them all. We then passed them around and got their smells good and mixed up," she said.

    The mother, Mariah, hung around outside the concrete den in the enclosure and eventually crawled back inside, laid down and took care of her babies and the foster pups.

    "It's been essentially seamless since then," Callahan said. She and the center staff tried to avoid handling the pups, to prepare them for today's release. There was no holding, petting or bottle-feeding. To have any chance of surviving in the wild, experts agree that wolves must be afraid of humans and pick up on pack behavior.

    The center limited face-to-face encounters with the Menomonee pups to every three weeks for vaccinations, and staff did their best to make the experience resonate as unpleasant for the wolves. "We didn't want them to like us," Callahan said on a sunny June afternoon as she watched two pups lounge outside their concrete den as the adults kept a watchful eye. "So far, they've done what they were supposed to. It's like they all got the memo on wolf behavior."

    The pups, at about 20 pounds, are all legs, with huge paws and gangly limbs. Just small patches of puppy fuzz remain on their coats.

    Forty-eight wolves live at the center, an educational facility and refuge about 35 miles north of St. Paul. Some were born in captivity; others were removed from the wild or orphaned. In addition to gray wolves, the center keeps endangered red wolves and Mexican gray wolves and is part of the national captive-breeding program for the rare species.

    It was through Callahan's work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's red wolf recovery program that she learned of mixing captive pups with wild wolf packs. Red wolf biologist Chris Lucash has placed about 20 captive-born red wolf pups with wild packs since 2000 in an effort to diversify bloodlines and boost the wild population. He has never released pups to fathers, however -- only to nursing mothers. And his team tries to release pups before their eyes have opened, at less than 3 weeks of age.

    From his North Carolina post, Lucash has heard about the local effort and offered advice. "I'd say the best bet would be to get the pups into a new (wild) wolf den as soon as possible," he said. "But I understand there were no nearby opportunities to have done that."

    The risks of releasing the pups are very real -- and serious. There is the possibility that the male will not come back. Or, he could reject the pups. The male has been seen on forest cameras with a new female. She could attack the pups as well.

    "We hope that will not happen," Callahan said. "The father is hard-wired to parent those pups. The other wolf may have maternal instincts kick in as well."

    But there's no guarantee the experiment will work, she said. To monitor the pups' fate, a Forest Lake veterinarian implanted tracking devices, the size and weight of a mouse, in the pups' bellies more than a week ago. They are too small to be radio-collared.

    Maneuvering the pups out of the enclosure for the trip to the vet was an adventure in itself. "When we walk in with capture instruments, it can get Western real quick," Callahan told the onlookers who gathered June 30 to watch.

    She was right. Followed by six staff members, Callahan entered the holding area, armed only with a long pole and long, heavy gloves. The pups peeked at the intruders from the den and scrambled, along with the adult wolves, to the far corner of the enclosure.

    The adults guarded the babies as the humans advanced on them, inch by inch, with poles in front of them. With the alpha male perched in front, clearly on guard, Callahan crept in and snatched out the three puppies, one by one. Terrified, they urinated and defecated and bit her sturdy gloves. "I'm actually glad they did that," Peggy said with a grin after. "It showed they are terrified of humans, which is what we need them to be."

    Reiter and Nordin made the trip from northeastern Wisconsin to watch the pups' implantation surgery and capture. Reiter has been baiting the den to keep the wolves from leaving the vicinity. The tribe also has built a pen they will keep the pups in for a week or so. If the father is spotted on cameras nearby, the pups will be released.

    "What we are hoping is that the pups will howl and that will drive the father over to get them," Nordin said. If the father doesn't stay with them and they are not killed, they will either be cared for as captive wolves or another release attempt will be planned.

    "That would be the last resort, releasing them again this fall," Nordin said.

  • Wisconsin wolf that was slated for capture can't be found

    NEWPORT, Wis.

    First state officials wanted to kill the wolf. Then they planned to send it to Minnesota. But they can't do anything until they find it first.

    In May, officials with the state Department of Natural Resources planned to destroy a wolf that had attacked a calf and dog near Wisconsin Dells. That decision prompted a letter-writing campaign, with at least one letter coming from the United Kingdom. The writers pleaded for the wolf to be spared and sent to a sanctuary instead.

    D-N-R officials agreed to send it to the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minnesota. But they haven't been able to capture the wolf in about two months. A D-N-R spokesman says it's unclear whether the wolf has left the area or is laying low.

    He says two wolves were recently found dead in the Newport area -- but neither was believed to be the wolf in question because afterward there were new reports of a calf killed and a dog injured.