Saturday, June 30, 2012

Image of the Day

hudsonbay wolf artis IMG_0951 by j.a.kok
hudsonbay wolf artis IMG_0951, a photo by j.a.kok on Flickr.

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Posted: 29 Jun 2012 

Keeping track of Oregon’s wolves — Biologists with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
have been busy so far this summer keeping tabs on all the wolf activity. Earlier in the month, they collared two wolves—a six-year-old male in the Umatilla River area, and a 2-year-old female in the Wenaha pack. This week, they received a trail-cam photo of a lactating female near the Eagle Cap Wilderness area. See photos below, courtesy of ODFW:
Lactating female caught on trail-cam near Eagle Cap Wilderness
Lactating female caught on trail-cam near Eagle Cap Wilderness
Six-year-old male, OR-14
Six-year-old male, OR-14
Two-year-old female, OR-13
Two-year-old female, OR-13
Wenaha pups
Wenaha pups
“Boise” arrives at Busch Gardens – The lone Idaho wolf pup found by a roadside in central Idaho now has a couple of mates at his new home in Williamsburg, Virginia. Zoologists at Busch Gardens have named him “Boise,” and they’re raising him with two other pups brought in from Montana. The pups are handled regularly so they grow accustomed to human contact but will be raised primarily by a surrogate female dog. The zoo manager expects the pups will be on public display within a few weeks. See Busch Gardens press release, video and photos of Boise’s arrival last week.

Woo-hoo for Wood River! — The Idaho Mountain Express reported on last week’s successful workshop, highlighting areas of broad agreement on moving the Wood River Wolf Project forward. As the story notes, not a single wolf has been killed within in the project area since 2008, which demonstrates how effective nonlethal deterrents can be when used appropriately. Wolves have been killed just outside the project area, however, where ranchers have not taken sufficient steps to prevent conflict with livestock. This sharp contrast indicates that innovative management tools really can make a difference.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Orphaned wolf pup to become ambassador for species

Scott K. Brown/Busch Gardens Williamsburg 

This rescued wolf pup will join Busch Gardens' animal ambassador team, helping spread the message about wolves' important role in the wild.
The story of this young wolf’s journey could come straight from a movie. The 8-week-old pup had to cross the country to find a new home after being discovered by campers on the side of a road in Idaho, according a press release from that new home at Busch Gardens Virginia.

The campers thought the wolf was a lost or abandoned domestic puppy and called a local veterinarian. That vet, in turn, contacted the Idaho Fish and Game Department. In the end, a DNA test confirmed that the pup was actually a gray wolf. Sadly, attempts to locate the pup's pack failed and a new home had to be found for the orphan.

Scott K. Brown/Busch Gardens Williamsburg 

The pup named Boise took to the air to travel to his new home, hopping a flight from Idaho to Virginia this week.
Eventually, it was determined that Busch Gardens would be the best fit for the young animal because of the park’s extensive experience with wolf training and education programs. The park is already home to 10 wolves split into three packs, including two 6-week-old pups.

According to Jay Tacey, zoological manager for Busch Gardens, the pup now referred to as "Boise"  quickly took to his new pack, which includes the 6-week-old pups and a German short-haired pointer named Mia, who is serving as their surrogate mother.

Scott K. Brown/Busch Gardens Williamsburg 

Boise plays with fellow pups in the pack.
Boise and the two yet-to-be-named pups will eventually be introduced to one of the park's three mature wolf packs, and once integrated into the pack, Boise and his young mates will be unveiled to the public.

The park's intention is that these new additions to the pack will help further illuminate the important role wolves play in the wild.

Scott K. Brown/Busch Gardens Williamsburg 

The two 6-week-old pups were recently acquired by Busch Gardens from a private breeder in Montana.
Scott K. Brown/Busch Gardens Williamsburg 

Boise and his pack mates will take part in daily stage productions and interactive training opportunities to help park guests experience the agility of these animals and learn about wildlife conservation efforts.

WI to Review Wolf Hunt Rules

By ASSOCIATED PRESS   Thursday, June 28, 2012 
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Natural Resources Board is scheduled next month to consider the parameters for this fall’s wolf hunt.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill this spring authorizing a wolf hunt beginning on Oct. 15. The bill specified the season length and methods, including the use of dogs, baiting and night hunting. The Department of Natural Resources has been working since May to iron out the rest of the details such as quotas and hunting zone structures.

Earlier this month the DNR announced a plan calling for killing up to 233 wolves and issuing five times more licenses than the harvest number, predicting hunters will have a 20 percent success rate.
The board is expected to take up the plan at a meeting in Stevens Point on July 17.


Image of the Day

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Red wolf pups are out and exploring at the zoo

During the media debut of six-week-old red wolf pups at Point Defiance Zoo Wednesday, June 28, 2012 one finds daily life can get tiring hanging out with mom Millie. The red wolf, Canis rufus, has a historical range of the southeastern U.S., but today the species is endangered with only roughly 100 wild wolves that are in the North Carolina preserve. In the 1970s the number of red wolves was in the teens. "Point Defiance was the leader in the red wolf recovery," says Kris Sherman of the zoo, "We've been a pioneer in their recovery." The zoo is having a naming contest for the pups on their website.



Welcome the new Red Wolf pups at Point Defiance Zoo!

Millie, an endangered red wolf at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, gave birth to a litter of pups over an approximately 30-hour period beginning May 13.

The births represent another milestone in an effort established at Point Defiance Zoo in 1973 to save the extremely fragile species from extinction.

Millie, an 8-year-old female, whelped the pups in an out-of-view den area.  Their father is 9-year-old Graham.

Although they are the first red wolves born on zoo grounds in 29 years, the program has produced hundreds of pups at off-site breeding facilities since its inception.

“We are proud that the animals have settled well into their new home and that we are able to contribute to red wolf breeding efforts here at the zoo,” said General Curator Karen Goodrowe Beck, who also is reproductive adviser to the Special Survival Plan. “The births provide a remarkable opportunity for our visitors to connect with this species and for all of us to aid in their conservation.”

The first litter of pups in the red wolf recovery program was born at the zoo in 1977; this year marks the 35th anniversary of that event. Those births were the watershed moment in the recovery of the species.

By the 1970s, a scant 14 were all that remained of the once populous species. In 1980, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the red wolf biologically extinct in the wild. Today, some 100 roam the Red Wolf Recovery Area operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in northeastern North Carolina. Roughly 40 pups have been born there this year, and all of them are descendants of red wolves born through the breeding and recovery program.

But the population, whose range once extended across the Southeastern United States, remains threatened by a number of environmental and human factors.

The breeding and recovery program is a cooperative effort among 41 U.S. zoos and wildlife centers and the Fish & Wildlife Service. It is part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan.There are approximately 196 adults and juveniles at the cooperating facilities, including 37 pups born in nine litters this spring.


Eight Wolf Pups Born at the Argonne Wildlife Park

An exceptional birth of 8 pups in the Ardennes. It is a exceptional birth. Eight cubs have seen the light of day on 6 June at the Argonne Discovery wildlife park located there. An average size litter is between 2 and 4 small pups. The babies were born from the coupling of Brainy, 5 years old, and of Crockett, a wolf of 3 years.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Penny the Pennypack Wolf still eluding authorities

Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Joining the ranks of the Bronx Zoo Cobra and the Pittsburgh piglet, Penny the Pennypack Wolf is yet another animal adept at avoiding “the man.” Since last week, employees of the Speedwell Forge Wolf Sanctuary in Lititz, PA, along with members of the PA Game Commission, have set up camp in the Rhawnhurst section of Northeast Philadelphia trying to capture Penny, who they believe could be any number of things- a wolf, a wild dog, a coyote, or a hybrid.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Penny, “who might be an abandoned pet, eluded traps set by Wolf Sanctuary workers and regularly peeked from the edge of the woods of Pennypack Park — to the delight of spectators” on Tuesday.

The animal control staff has tried just about everything, even going to far as to feed Penny a tranquilizer-laced hot dog. They plan to shoot her with a tranquilizer dart/remote tracking device if all else fails. Once Penny is immobilized, they will be able to take her in for tests. If it turns out the animal is at least 65% wolf, she already has a home at Speedwell, a 25-acre wolf sanctuary in Lancaster County.

According to the Inquirer article, local area residents began noticing Penny around the outskirts of Pennypack Park on Algon Ave. It was there that citizens began snapping photos, calling animal control, even feeding the animal “Kibbles n’ Bits.”

According to Jerry Czech, a wildlife conservation officer in the area, while coyotes do reside in the city, there are no wolves in the wild. There are wolf hybrids, but like in all of the other states, permits must be acquired to keep them, and they are rarely issued. Wolves are wild animals, who even when mixed with other species run the risk of reverting to feral behavior.

While Penny has not shown any indication of becoming violent, some residents worry that her “wolf nature” will kick in, and are afraid to get into their cars, especially at night.

Officials are still working on capturing Penny. In the meantime, they encourage all Rhawnhurst residents to be extra cautious. And please, for your sake: do not attempt to feed Penny. No matter how cute she is, there is still a chance that she is a completely wild animal.


Image of the Day

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

True Wolf, the movie

What Does It Mean To Be Wild?

True Wolf

a film by Rob Whitehair | a Tree & Sky Media Arts production

True Wolf follows the life of Koani, a wolf born in captivity who became an ambassador for her species and changed the lives of so many people. When Montana couple Bruce Weide and Pat Tucker made the decision not to euthanize an abandoned wolf pup in 1991, they had little idea of how their new houseguest named Koani would end up shaping their lives. After a lengthy trial-and-error process of learning how to share space with a territorial predator (Lesson 1: Always have plenty of replacement furniture on hand), they developed a healthy respect and profound appreciation for the line separating “man’s best friend” and White Fang.  With Koani in the role of “Ambassador Wolf,” this unusual pack traveled to communities across America where the return of wolves was an explosive controversy; their goal, to give people a chance to look a wolf in the eye and decide for themselves if the stories and legends about this animal reflected reality or imagination.

Born in captivity, Koani could only be a captive wolf. She could never roam wild nor could she be allowed to run free. For Bruce and Pat, despite all their efforts to provide for Koani’s needs, they would have to face the painful truth that they could not provide for her greatest need – to be free. As she would prove time and time again, she was a wolf – and wolves belong in the wild.

True Wolf weaves the story of life with Koani into the larger issue of humanity’s relationship with the wolf and wildness. Through 16 years of original Koani footage, supplemented by provocative interviews, stylized re-creations and stunning wolf footage, this contemporary film explores the highly polarized and contentious period before, during, and after the United States made the historic decision to return wolves to the homelands from which they’d been exterminated and delivers a timely message to be considered as the controversy surrounding wolves continues to play out. Students, teachers, wildlife biologists, and even a few grizzled motorcycle enthusiasts are on hand to describe how their encounters with Koani changed their views of nature. Showing an admirable even-handedness towards its subject matter, True Wolf also takes time to explore the ethical concerns inherent in raising a wild animal, resulting in a documentary that offers plenty of food for thought afterwards.

For more information and play dates, please click here

Wolf, or something, still roaming Pennypack Park

June 26, 2012|
 By Julie Zauzmer and Sandy Bauers, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS*450/hybrid_dog_wolf_1024.jpg*450/hybrid_dog_wolf3_1024.jpg

Since late last week, employees of the Speedwell Forge Wolf Sanctuary have camped out in a pickup truck on a residential street in Rhawnhurst hoping to capture a creature they have nicknamed Penny.
No one knows just what Penny is. She — the Wolf Sanctuary crew refers to her in feminine terms — could be a dog, a wolf, a coyote, or a blend of species. But the team from the Wolf Sanctuary in Lititz, Pa., along with workers from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, local animal control agents, and residents of Penny's adopted Algon Avenue habitat, know she prefers McDonald's to a deer carcass.
On Tuesday, Penny, who might be an abandoned pet, eluded traps set by Wolf Sanctuary workers and regularly peeked from the edge of the woods of Pennypack Park — to the delight of spectators.
"I've been seeing her. I've been feeding her Kibbles 'n Bits," said Dale Pyle, an Algon resident who said he has observed the animal for the past two months.

Game Commission and Wolf Sanctuary employees have laid traps in the woods and fed the animal a tranquilizer-laced hot dog.

Next, Wolf Sanctuary worker Dustin Deyoe said, they plan to shoot her with a tranquilizer dart equipped with a remote tracking device. Once she lies down, they will take her to a vet for DNA testing. If she is at least 65 percent wolf, then she can have a home in the 25-acre sanctuary in Lancaster County.

Cheryl A. Trewella, a spokeswoman for the state game commission, said that officials first heard about the animal when someone sent in a photo. The image was fuzzy, and "it appeared to just be a dog."

Then the wildlife conservation officer for the area, Jerry Czech, started getting calls about a coyote in the park. Coyotes do live in the city, so he just told the callers to leave the animal alone.

Then came more calls and more photos with clearer images. Based on the animal's overall appearance, game commission officials decided it was part wolf — and that made the situation another matter altogether.

Wolves do not live in the wild in Pennsylvania. Wolf hybrids do exist, but as in most other states, anyone who wants one must first get a permit. Deyoe says that the state almost never grants those permits.

The concern is that even though a wolf hybrid may seem tame and friendly, there is always a chance its wolf nature could take over and the animal would become hostile.

With the Pennypack animal, "there's no indication it's aggressive, but we don't know what's going to happen down the road," Trewella said.

Algon Avenue resident Sharon Newman Ehrlich began making calls to authorities two weeks ago when her dog Caesar started barking one night and she found an animal much bigger than a dog sniffing at him through her fence. She said Tuesday that she worried a well-meaning dog-walker trying to feed the animal would accidentally set it off.

"Some people are afraid to get out of their cars at night," she said, out of fear that the animal might be provoked. She suggested that the neighbors organize an educational campaign after the commotion over the canine dies down.
"People want to be loving. They want to be caring," she said. "But they don't understand these animals have special diets."

But officers say that the attention has made the creature-catching job more difficult.

Monday night, when a game commission officer got within range and pulled out what looked like a gun — but actually just held a tranquilizer dart — "everyone started screaming that he was trying to shoot it," Trewella said.

"I know it's a curiosity. I know people want to see it. But it would really help this animal out if they stayed out of the areas so we could secure it," she said.


Image of the Day

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Search for wolf-dog hybrid in Philadelphia

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Amy Buckman
There is a lot of talk, and plenty of concern today surrounding an animal that's been spotted in Pennypack Park.

Twice Monday afternoon, the Action Cam got a good look at the animal that's been causing a great deal of excitement in Northeast Philadelphia.

Neighbors first spotted what looks a lot like a wolf over a week ago. When they reported the sightings to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, wildlife officials assumed the neighbors had seen a coyote. Several of them live in the park.

But then neighbors began getting pictures of the animal and it became clear that it wasn't a coyote. Neighbors say the animal comes out of the woods several times a day to rest in the grass, but it has never exhibited any aggressive behavior. In fact, people have been driving up to the edge of the park to try to feed or get photos of the animal.

But Game Commission officers are concerned that the more contact the animal has with people, the more likely it is to get spooked or feel cornered, and that could lead to problems. That's why a representative of the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania has been called in. The hope is the animal can be trapped and brought to the sanctuary near Lititz, where it will be safe.

It's illegal for individuals to own wolves or wolf-hybrids in Pennsylvania, though zoos and educational centers can get special permits for them.


Wolves visit East Brunswick Library

Wolves visit East Brunswick Library
Monday, June 25, 2012
Max Weiss, 10, left, and Brian Marx, 9, pet, Bandit, the alpha male of his pack. East Brunswick Public Library holds program featuring a few of the animals from Howling Woods Farm,a breed-specific animal shelter that rescues and places domestic bred wolves, wolfdog hybrids and northern breeds. Bandit's breed content is mostly Alaskan Malamute, mixed with a an unknown content of wolf. He is known as a wolf hybrid, or 'wolfdog'. He weighs approx 100 lbs and was born April 23, 2003.


Water Wolves

Image of the Day

Kalea & Darko by Kalea In Wonderland
Kalea & Darko, a photo by Kalea In Wonderland on Flickr.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Image of the Day

Andrew Simpson: the wolf whisperer

One of Britain’s foremost animal trainers recently relocated to Beijing for his toughest job yet: raising a pack of wolves to star in an epic Chinese film. But getting the animals to snarl on cue is the least of his problems

Andrew Simpson, a specialist wolf trainer, bonds with young wolf puppies in Beijing, China on June. 3, 2012.

Andrew Simpson, a specialist wolf trainer, bonds with young wolf puppies in Beijing, China on June. 3, 2012. Photo: ADAM DEAN FOR SEVEN MAGAZINE
Ten pairs of dark eyes stare out from behind a 14ft-high chain link fence on the northern outskirts of Beijing. It is a sweltering afternoon, the dust hangs above the arid plain, and the wolves behind the fence have dug shallow pits in the dirt to cool themselves in the moist soil underneath.
The pack looks relaxed, until they hear the sound of the car and the distant bark of a dog. At once, their ears prick up, their noses tilted forward, towards the noise. “They never really sleep while the sun is up,” says Andrew Simpson, one bushy eyebrow arched.
Simpson, a 45-year-old Scot with a shaggy mane of dark hair, has spent his life training wolves, and is now in China for his greatest challenge yet. In order to make a film of one of China’s most famous novels, the multimillion bestseller, Wolf Totem, he has 18 months to raise a pack of Mongolian grassland wolves to sit, snarl and fight on cue.
As the narrator of Wolf Totem warns: “You can tame a bear, a lion or an elephant, but you cannot tame a Mongolian wolf.” Simpson is inclined to agree. “They are the hardest animals to train,” he says in his soft Scottish brogue. “It is not possible to get a wolf to do something he or she does not want to do. If they do not enjoy it, they will not work.”
This is the longest and riskiest project of Simpson’s 20-year career; he will be working with an 18-strong wolf pack, larger than any he has attempted in the past. Plans for a film of Wolf Totem have been afoot since 2004, and at one point Peter Jackson was rumoured to be interested in directing it with all-digital wolves. But when Jean-Jacques Annaud – director of The Bear and the Brad Pitt film Seven Years in Tibet – was brought on board, he insisted that the animals in the movie should be a genuine pack. China’s dwindling wolf population means they’re not allowed to leave the country; their trainer, then, would have to come to them. “When we first started talking about Wolf Totem, I didn’t realise I might have to commit two or three years of my life to it,” says Simpson, who has moved here from his ranch in rural Canada.
Simpson slides the outer fence open, and calls for an inner electric fence to be turned off. We slip into the compound, a football-pitch-size pen dotted with trees, a tin bath and a climbing platform. The wolves begin to pace. They are thin, their tawny, sparse summer coats showing every sinew, every bone, every hard edge in their angular frames.

Simpson calls out to the alpha male of the pack, a large one year-old called Cloudy. The wolf pads over, and I freeze. “Let the wolves see you here with me for a moment. Stay close to me and they will not mind you,” says Simpson.

The author of Wolf Totem, Lu Jiamin, who writes under the pseudonym Jiang Rong, arrived in Ujimchin Banner in Inner Mongolia in 1969 and spent more than a decade as a shepherd before returning to Beijing and penning the semi-autobiographical work. In his eyes, the wolves are an analogue for the Mongolian nomads: ferocious, almost supernaturally shrewd, loyal to their pack and respectful of the delicate ecosystem around them. By contrast, the Chinese colonisers are described as sheep; small-minded, weak and relentless consumers of the grasslands.

“A fear of wolves is in your Chinese bones,” admonishes one Mongolian elder in the book, after the narrator comes face to face with “a pack of golden-hued, murderous-looking Mongolian wolves [...] their gazes boring into him like needles”.

The novel is gory, and full of frenzied wolf attacks. At one point, the pack outflanks a group of Mongolian warhorses, sending them careering onto the thin ice of a frozen lake, to their doom. Writes Lu: “Desperate cries rose from the herd as the wolves tore into one horse after another, sides and chests spurted blood…”

When Cloudy approaches, there is not much sign of a blood thirst. He immediately flips over onto his back and presents his tummy for a rub. “Tickle him,” urges Simpson. “It’s part of the process.” The wolf’s fur is bristly, and his body is tight and strong. It turns out that he is on a reconnaissance mission. After covering himself in our scent, he gets up and saunters back to the rest of the pack. One by one, they have a sniff, deciding whether to accept us into the fold or not.

The other nine adults are Parker, Silver, Forest, Frenzy, Hank, Yo-Yo, Bibi, Johnny and Peanut. Then there are a further four cubs: Sam, Rocky, Fred and Mickey. They all respond to their names.
Chinese, or Eurasian, wolves – Canis lupus lupus – are more slender than their American or Indian cousins, with longer ears, narrower heads and their fur is coarser and more yellow. The wolves that live on the grasslands also tend to be lighter than mountain wolves. They are built for speed. But despite their veneration in Wolf Totem, they are “pretty terrible hunters”, according to Simpson. “Nine out of 10 times, a wolf will fail to catch his prey in the wild.”

In captivity, though, it’s a different story. At one point, Simpson breaks off several leafy branches from a nearby tree and stacks them to form a den. Within moments, the pack is circling. Simpson begins to wave one branch under the nose of Parker, until the wolf clamps its jaws tightly around it. A tug of war follows until the wolf manages to grab the branch and retreats victoriously. The rest of the pack is now running wildly, hoping to join the game. “Wolf at your back!” Sally Jo Sousa, Simpson’s partner and fellow trainer, calls out whenever one of the pack strays out of his line of vision. Although wolf attacks on humans are very rare, they tend to go for the head and neck. As Sally Jo puts it, “If one of them leapt on your back, you’d be in trouble.”

Simpson was born near Inverness, and grew up on a 47,000-acre estate in the Highlands. On a trip to Australia in his twenties, he landed a job on the set of A Cry in the Dark, the Meryl Streep film about Azaria Chamberlain, the baby whose mother said she was killed by a dingo. After spending time with the dingo trainer, he was hooked.

He moved to Vancouver, after a friend of his began working as a nanny for a couple who trained animals for film. He soon took a job as their assistant. One of the first animals he worked with there was a wolf/dog crossbreed. He was told the dog had been a problem on set, but after a few weeks he was walking with the dog off the leash. “I guess back then I didn’t know any better,” he says. “I just did what I could and it worked.” Since 1994, however, he has lived in Calgary, Canada, where he and Sally Jo, 46, now share a ranch. It was during this move that Simpson decided to change tack. “At the time, no one was focused solely on wolves. They were considered the hardest animals to work with. It was a gamble, but it was what I wanted to do,” he says. Together Simpson and Sally Jo run Instinct for Film, a company which trains birds, bears, leopards and small animals for films and advertisements. Their credits include Elf, Final Destination and Borat. According to Annaud, Simpson is the “finest wolf trainer in the world”.

Today, Simpson is having trouble getting his wolves to stand still. Each day, the pack is put through its training for at least an hour. A row of rocks is half-buried in the dust. These are their marks. It takes about a month to persuade a wolf to get “on your mark”, a command that is accompanied with a wave of the hand and, if successful, a hunk of meat.

Simpson says most of his training revolves around giving the wolves food. Their normal diet is dried dog food and chopped chicken, but for the training, they get ruby red cubes of fresh meat. “If you overfeed a wolf, you have had it. They will wander off and not train for days. That can be a bit tricky with a movie’s schedule.”

Getting a wolf to snarl on cue is also time-consuming. A large bone is first gently, then more aggressively, taken away from a hungry wolf until he bares his fangs.

And although Simpson and his six-man team, brought in from Calgary, have been working with the pack from when they were just a few weeks old, only three of the wolves, Cloudy, Silver and Parker, will allow human contact.

“Ideally, you want to get a wolf cub from before they open their eyes, to imprint yourself onto them,” says Simpson. “Once wolves have your scent, they rarely forget it.”
Annaud, who persuaded Simpson to leave his 160-acre ranch to live in China, understands the difficulty of working with animals. He has admitted that each day they may only get 20 seconds of usable footage with the wolves.

“That is the real crux of the challenge,” says Simpson, adding that in any pack there may be several wolves who do not respond well to being filmed.

“I am used to working with wolves whose parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents were born in captivity. For Wolf Totem, this was not possible, so I took cubs from zoos in northern China, whose parents were often wild. I would have loved to ship my already-trained wolves from Canada, but they were not right for this project,” he adds.

For several of the film’s most bloodthirsty scenes, Simpson expects Annaud to use a split screen filming technique where two animals, a horse and a wolf for example, appear to be running alongside each other but have in fact been spliced together.

When that isn’t an option, Simpson must ensure that at least one of his wolves will perform the stunt with a real horse. It’s a painstaking process. “We pick the most sensible wolf. The training is done over weeks by taking the smell of the horse to the wolf so that he is not overwhelmed by it during the filming.”

While making the 2009 film Loup, he ran six wolves with a reindeer, but they belonged to Simpson: “I had worked with them for many years.” At the end of each day, Simpson and Sally Jo take their four cubs home, to a rented apartment in the centre of town. They are too young to stay in the main enclosure. “They would be eaten alive,” Simpson says, flatly. The apartment is a mess of towels, discarded boxes, magazines, hair scrunchies and baby toys, including a well-chewed teething ring. One evening earlier this month, when I visited, Simpson was sprawled on the sofa watching television, while Sally Jo leaned on the kitchen counter, obviously exhausted.

A small figure started to squirm in the nook of his arm and the couple exchanged a knowing, parental glance. The pointy ears were the first clue that it wasn’t a baby. Then there was a swish of a stubby tail and a wide-mouthed yawn, fangs exposed.

The bundle was Mickey, a six-week-old male and younger brother of Cloudy. With a quick blink at the strangers in the room, he bounced onto the floor, his pot belly poking out from between his oversized paws.

In Wolf Totem, the narrator, Chen Zhen, steals a wolf cub and raises it, against the wishes of the Mongolian nomad community he lives with. Over the course of the book, as he bonds with the cub, he watches helplessly as it becomes more and more uncontrollable, its nature impossible to tame. Lu Jiamin visited the training camp earlier this year and was fascinated by Simpson’s methods.

“Andrew is like the wolves’ father. He is the king of the wolves. When they saw him, some of them fell down on their backs, with their legs pointing upwards, to let him touch their bellies,” Lu commented afterwards.

“With the cubs at this age,” Simpson says, “it is all about the touching and the human contact. If they have that from birth, you have a chance to get them to trust you.” Initially, a Chinese vet bottle-fed the cubs until they were five weeks old and strong enough to travel overland from Harbin Zoo to Beijing. Now they are on a five-hour feeding schedule that leaves the couple with little time for sleep. It was Sally Jo’s turn on the sofa last night.

“I am usually up at four o’clock, that’s when the cubs wake up. Last night I opened my eyes to find them all sitting on me. They get in my hair, pull at my nightie, they poo and pee everywhere of course. It is a mess,” she grins.

Other residents in the block have had to double-take as Simpson or Sally Jo walk past, a wolf cub on a leash. “If you look at them, they look a bit like dogs, but the way they move is different,” says Simpson.

It’s hard to reconcile the pups with the adult wolves in the training camp. At one point during my visit Mickey began a clumsy dash across the tiled floor of the living room. Half way across, he ran out of energy, skidded to a halt, and fell asleep. “You cannot do much with them at the start,” chuckled their “father”.

Simpson admits the unique bond with the wolves he trains stems from a near-parental commitment to their wellbeing. “You must give yourself completely to raising wolves and building a bond with them. Most people try to raise wolves by spending a few hours a week with them. This approach never works. You need to understand how their pack structure works and then slot yourself into their lives.

“If you have their trust you have everything. If that means sleepless nights when you raise baby wolves or sitting outside in a thunderstorm with them because they are afraid, or travelling in the belly of a 747 aircraft so they can hear the sound of your voice to give them comfort, that’s what you have to do,” he says.

Sally Jo adds that she understood from the start that working with Simpson would be both hugely rewarding and demanding. “When we first got together, I made a promise to him that I would follow him wherever he had to go – it’s the only way we could be together. But let’s just say that working in China has tested that promise,” she deadpans.

The couple’s gruelling training schedule leaves them with little time to explore China; after a year in the country, they don’t speak any Mandarin and the only time Sally Jo left the house alone she promptly got lost.

Production on the film begins in September, and will wrap in 2013, if everything goes to plan. By then the wolves, who can live to be up to 17 years old (the equivalent of 85 in wolf years), will still be young. Simpson hopes to take some of them back to his ranch in Canada, but the others may become part of an attraction at Beijing Zoo.

“What I really hope is that the movie will change people’s perceptions of wolves,” he says. “They are really wonderful creatures. Challenging, but clever and capable.”

And with that, he leads the pack in a howl. As he throws his head back, the wolves around him begin to yelp, and then one or two muster a more full-throated cry. It is not yet the blood-curdling call of the wild that runs through Wolf Totem, but they’ll get there.

This article also appeared in SEVEN magazine, free with the Sunday Telegraph 


New “sportsmens” group enters wolf fray, but what is their real agenda?

Mitt and Don up in a tree (stand), . . .

A huge, two-page centerfold ad in today’s Bozeman Chronicle by Big Game Forever ( urges readers to sign a petition to demand predator management and support for H.R. 509 and S. 249, American Big Game and Livestock Protection Act, which would exempt gray wolves from the ESA of 1973. Big Game Forever seems to be mostly the brainchild of Don Peay of Utah who founded Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, a group that grew rapidly for a while in the West. SFW generally talked about game, not fish. Its critics said it was really “Sportsmen for a couple kinds of wildlife.”  This was said to mean deer, elk and maybe moose.

Peay proved himself to be an excellent entrepreneur at creating interest groups by employing the right combination of incentives to draw people to his organization.  He was good at raising money and finding enemies to worry hunters. He was also good at getting preferments for his group and its supporters from several state fish and game agencies.  Recently Peay has become friendly toward those who are not supporters of public wildlife or public lands.  Peay recently got a lot of attention when he rejected the North American Hunting Model as Socialism. He seems to be moving toward the views of uberrich hunters and those who hunt behind tall fences, which many do not consider hunting at all.

It is hard to say what the goal of his new group is.  Right now it is emphasizing anti-wolf, but that field is crowded.  This might be an experiment, but he also might have struck the mother lode, one or more of the top tenth of one percent of the ultra-millionaires and billionaires with an agenda for privatization and money enough to maybe buy some laws overturning American hunting, fishing, and outdoor traditions that have sustained Americans for generations.

Interestingly, Peay has become a friend of Mitt Romney, whose descriptions of his own hunting experiences have been amusing. If anyone could destroy America’s outdoor heritage it would be a President Romney, who is clearly as inexperienced in the outdoors as President Obama.  Ben Long has a good article on Peay and Romney:

‘Sportsmen,’ so-called. By Ben Long. Writers on the Range. Salt Lake Tribune

Is Peay speaking for the average person or does he want to recreate the King’s Forest?  In today’s world, of course, it would be the Billionaire’s Forests.  Perhaps this will be another paper organization to help Romney instead? If it brings in sportsmen, the reward could be a high position in a Romney Administration. It could be both.


Poland’s wolves trot across key wildlife overpasses

Critically endangered Central European wolves have learned to use wildlife overpasses that span the major A4 autostrada in western Poland. The first hard evidence of regular overpass use by three separate wolf packs was recently documented by Dr. Robert W. Mysłajek of the Association for Nature, ‘Wolf.’ a Polish organization, and Dr. Sabina Nowak. The pair plan to formally announce their findings at the upcoming IENE 2012 International Conference in Potsdam-Berlin, Germany. {1}
This video, supplied by Mysłajek, clearly shows several wolves loping and trotting across the wildlife overpass, while the sound of vehicular engines ebb and flow in the distance:

The wolves appear to be using the overpasses during the cover of night and the light of day. A highway as large as the A4 is a major obstacle for the movement of predators such as Poland’s wolves, bears and lynx, as well as other wildlife. Which is why it is exciting that these particular wolves are using these particular overpasses.

Documenting the wolves using these overpasses is significant, according to Mysłajek, because the A4 autostrada runs through the Lower Silesian forest which is included in the range of the Central European wolf population. This population is ranked as critically endangered by the IUCN. Wolves have only recently naturally recolonized western Poland after decades of extirpation. Mysłajek attributes their comeback in the western reaches to strict protective measures enacted in 1998.
The presence of these wolves in western Poland, and their willingness to use the overpasses, is a positive signal that their recolonization may continue to gain strength. Myslajek says that there are about 850 individual wolves in about 150 packs in the entire country, and the population appears to be increasing.

Myslajek worked on a two-year project monitoring the wildlife overpasses, but it was only in the second year that the wolves began to venture across the 30-45 meter wide overpasses. He believes that the overpass width plays a key role in the willingness of wolves to use them. “In the videos, we may see that some individuals (probably younger) are afraid when crossing narrow underpassages, but we never observed such behaviour when wolves cross wide overpassages,” Myslajek said via email.

Wolves in Poland have mostly ranged in the forests of the Carpathian Mountains which span the eastern, northeastern and southern parts of the country, east of the Vistula River. But western Poland poses a different set of challenges to wolf packs: hunting, poaching, and dispersal barriers have kept their numbers scarce for the past three decades. Wolves in the country’s western reaches also tend to get physically cut off from the source population of wolves in the eastern part of the country. Myslajek and others have warned that the recolonization process is slow and constrained by development, roads and a growing transportation infrastructure in central Poland. {2}
For more about Poland’s wolves, check out this document from the Association for Nature, Wolf. {3}

{1} Email correspondence with Dr. Robert W. Mysłajek
{2} Sabina Nowak, Robert W. Mysłajek, Aleksandra Kłosinsk, Grzegorz Gabrys. 2011. Diet and prey selection of wolves (Canis lupus) recolonising Western and Central Poland. Mammalian Biology. 76 (2011) 709–715
{3} Wolves and Humans, a white paper by the Association for Nature, Wolf.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Image of the Day

Arktischer Wolf Babies by CROW1973
Arktischer Wolf Babies, a photo by CROW1973 on Flickr.

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Posted: 22 Jun 2012 

Special Edition: A field report from Wood River Workshop

It’s not often that you find Defenders staff, several ranchers, and Wildlife Services biologists and field agents all gathered around a table having a productive conversation about wolves. But that’s exactly what happened this week during a two-day workshop in the beautiful Wood River Valley of central Idaho.

Maybe it was the gorgeous backdrop of the stunning Sawtooth Mountains. Maybe it was the perfect weather. Maybe it was something in the water. But whatever it was bodes well for the future of the Wood River Wolf Project.
Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen (standing) welcomes the group to the Wood River Valley.
Coming to the table
Coming to the table
More than 20 stakeholders attended the workshop, including local sheep producers, county officials, Defenders staff and representatives of four federal agencies.
In the field
In the field
Mike Stevens with Lava Lake Lamb (center) answers questions about his grazing operation and the use of nonlethal deterrents to prevent losses.
On guard
On guard
Lava Lake uses Great Pyrenees dogs to protect their flocks of sheep.
Fladry demo
Fladry demo
Suzanne Stone and field technician Kyle demonstrate how to setup turbofladry.
Norton Lake
Norton Lake
Sawtooth Mountains
Sawtooth Mountains
The workshop officially kicked off the fifth year of what has been a tremendously successful collaboration between Defenders, Blaine County, a handful of local sheep producers, and at least four different federal agencies. Representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA Wildlife Services National Wildlife Research Center and Wildlife Services district office all attended the workshop and offered valuable insights into how to expand the scope of the project and make it more effective overall.

There was broad agreement about the need to involve more ranchers by disseminating best management practices for preventing livestock losses to wolves. Mike Stevens with Lava Lake Lamb said his herders having been using guard dogs, fladry and scare devices for years, virtually eliminating all losses to wolves. Yet many Idaho ranchers are still not familiar with nonlethal deterrents and how to implement them.

Last year, Defenders began laying the groundwork to significantly expand the scope of the project from a relatively small portion of the Sawtooth National Forest to pastures and grazing allotments countywide. Doing so will require a dramatic shift in our approach—from having field technicians out 24/7 tracking wolves and following bands of sheep, to having them conduct site evaluations and recommending ways to avoid conflict in high risk areas. Making that change will take time and require the cooperation of all our partners, but ultimately will allow us to increase tolerance for wolves across a much wider area.

The group also agreed that having more collared wolves in the project area could provide much-needed information about wolf activity and the effectiveness of nonlethal tools. There are currently only about 30 collared wolves left in the entire state, and none remaining in Blaine County. By deploying more collars, Defenders field technicians can make more accurate assessments of the threats to sheep, especially as they move through rugged wilderness where livestock are harder to protect.

Beyond the discussion of management tools, the workshop was vitally important for re-establishing trust between all project partners. We don’t always see eye-to-eye, but frank discussions during the workshop showed how much can be accomplished when we’re all working toward the same goal: keeping as many sheep and wolves alive as possible.

Thanks to all workshop participants for traveling long distances to share their knowledge and expertise on how best to foster coexistence between people and wildlife.

Look for updates throughout the season as Defenders field technicians set out to survey the landscape and forge new relationships with livestock producers across Blaine County. Good luck team!


Wolf refuge in transition

The Conway Daily Sun
June 22, 2012

CONWAY — A very public dispute over the founder of Loki Clan Wolf Refuge in Chatham has the organization looking to reassure its supporters. Friends and supporters of Fred Keating, meanwhile, are vocally protesting his ouster.
The Loki Clan Wolf Refuge sits on 70 acres in Evans Notch straddling the Maine/New Hampshire border. It is dedicated to wolves and wolf-hybrids, providing them a place to live and run. 
Wolf-hybrids are unlike normal dogs, but people often get them as pets without understanding their wild nature. In many states the only option for someone looking to get rid of one of these animals is to kill it.
In 1993 Fred Keating, who both friends and opponents describe as a force of nature, started the organization after a refuge he'd set up in his backyard outgrew itself. The refuge got support from members of the community who provided Keating and his packs with land, and for the next 18 years Keating lived just outside the fences that held in the wolves and wolf-dogs.
Late last year, however, the board ousted Keating, citing struggles with the U.S. Department of Agriculture that go back to the late 1990s, as well as financial mismanagement.
"Even if we wanted him to stay it wasn't an option," said Marianne Finney, the president of the Loki Clan board. The USDA wanted Keating gone.
"It was a very very hard decision," said Naomi Levesque, another board member.
But not everyone feels the board had no other choice. "Somewhere along the line, there was a tacit decision to conduct something akin to a hostile takeover of the refuge," supporters of Keating's said in a letter that went out to every person on the organization's mailing list. "At the root of this course of action was the belief by a majority of the board that they knew more about wolves, and more about how the LCWR should be run than Fred did."
Under Keating's leadership the refuge faced two complaints from the USDA, one in the late 1990s and another in 2011. The complaint in the late 1990s said the organization was violating the Animal Welfare Act by "exhibiting" the animals — showing the wolf-dogs off to the public in exchange for compensation — without having the appropriate license. USDA also cited the organization for not having adequate shelters and other facilities, or veterinary care. The 2011 complaint alleged the group was running a zoo.
In the late 1990s the organization fought the allegations, according to Maury Geiger, who served as the refuge's lawyer and represented Loki Clan in Portland, Maine and in Washington D.C.
"We had three days of hearings," he said. He argued the organization provided a place for these animals to live out their days, not a place to show them off, and therefore the USDA was in no place to make demands of the organization. And as for the matter of the facilities and veterinary care, he said, the refuge kept things as close to nature as possible. That was Keating's vision, what the refuge was meant to do.
Still, Geiger said, the fight was rigged. It was an administrative hearing, he said, not a trial. "In a sense, the government has all the options. It's an uphill battle."
"I thought we had the law on our side," he said, "but that doesn't always mean you'll prevail."
The organization was able to settle the dispute and move on, but the differences in views between the USDA and the Loki Clan were laid bare. A decade later the USDA was back, this time claiming the organization was running a zoo.
This time the board decided to work with the USDA instead of fight it.
"Mr. Keating (not the board) has had an ongoing legal battle with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for over 10 years," Finney said in a letter she sent to The Conway Daily Sun, "resulting in astronomical fines. Loki Clan Wolf Refuge cannot continue without a sound working relationship with the USDA."
The board voted in December to remove Keating from the organization he founded. Included in that was a decision to remove him from refuge property.
It was a big change, one that upset former board members. Before December, according to the organization's website, "There is rarely a day that Keating leaves the site, and every animal is socialized by him. It is not just the care and protection of the animals that he ensures, but their deep bonds with people."
The refuge, according to Keating's friends and supporters, was Keating's life's work.
Keating's removal has come with other changes, according to Finney and the letter protesting Keating's expulsion that went out to the organization's mailing list.
"We've hired a vet, which we've never had before," Finney said. That happened "as soon as Fred was voted off."
"The latest shift in philosophy is illustrated by the board's decision to request a license from the USDA to allow the LCWR to become an 'exhibitor,'" the letter said. "Of course this is a fundamental change in the mission of the refuge."
The refuge's basic purpose, the letter said, is "to provide a place for the animals to live out their lives and die in their natural way," and that is now threatened.
The board responded in its own counter-letter. "The original mission of the refuge remains intact," it said, "to provide a safe environment for wolves and wolf-dogs in a natural setting. LCWR has never lost sight of Fred Keating's vision. It is the foundation from which future goals emerge."
"These changes are positive and will benefit the animals in LCWR's care," it continued. "The board members would like to emphasize the fact that the animals are the single greatest concern."
Others, however, like Geiger, are concerned that the more than 60 animals living on the refuge are not being considered in the way they once were, that the new board is treating them like dogs, not wolf-dogs, something Keating always stressed.
"I'm not saying [getting a USDA exhibiting license] is a foolish thing to do," he said. "I'm saying that is not what the wolf refuge is about."
The board is hoping it can move forward, that this won't be a permanent yoke around the organization's neck.
"The board did not want to have to ask Fred to leave," Levesque said, but "after two years of trying to right some wrongs, the board was between a rock and a hard place."
Keating had the best intentions, Finney said, but "he's unwilling and unable to comply with anybody."
"We do not want this to drag out," she said, and "we can't give up. We have 68 animals in our care."
Geiger, however, said it appeared to him the board was looking to push Keating out, that the refuge being built is not what the Loki Clan was meant to be. At this point it may be too late for the two sides to part quietly. The dispute is likely to continue, Geiger said. "This is only round one."

‘True Wolf’ documentary follows life of Koani’s pack

Bruce Weide and Pat Tucker lived with a wolf for 16 years, and needless to say, they have followed Montana’s long wolf controversy with more than a passing interest.

The story of how Koani came to be part of their family – and their profession – is the focus of a new documentary titled “True Wolf,” produced by Montana filmmaker Rob Whitehair.

Weide and Tucker got Koani when Tucker, a wildlife biologist, was asked to be a consultant on another documentary about wolves.

“This filmmaker had a batch of wolves born in captivity,” Weide said. “Then he asked us if we would raise one of those wolves so he could shoot a scene of Pat and this wolf in a classroom.”

The Bitterroot Valley residents were just out of graduate school, and agreed to take the wolf pup, with the belief the filmmaker would reclaim the wolf when the filming was done. He didn’t, and suddenly they had a huge decision to make.

“We thought it was not right to have a wolf as a pet, you know have it chained up in a pen outside,” said Weide. “If we were going to keep this wolf, we were going to have to come up with leading a wolf-centered life.”

And so they did. The alternative was to have Koani euthanized since having been raised in captivity, she did not have the skills to survive in the wild.

Weide and Tucker formed an organization called “Wild Sentry” and decided to have Koani be an “ambassador” for education about wolves. Their lives for the next 16 years, were centered on Koani – a full-time job since wolves are social animals. Every day, twice a day, using a 50-foot leash attached to a climber’s harness, they took Koani on two-hour walk/runs. They gleaned leftover game from the local butcher shop for the hundreds of pounds of raw meat needed to feed her. They got her a dog, named Indy, for companionship. They even built a special tunnel from the wolf’s enclosure into part of their house.

But for all they did, they never forgot this was not the life a wolf was supposed to lead.
“Every day being faced with the fact that we could not fulfill this animal’s needs,” said Weide. “I think Koani led a good life in terms of being a captive wolf. But those animals are meant to be wild and running free … they’re meant to be chasing elk and deer and being out there in the wild.”

Weide, Tucker and Indy the dog became Koani’s “pack,” but they were never under any illusion she could be domesticated. Weide says they lived by her rules, because she wasn’t going to live by theirs.
They took Koani to hundreds of schools and community organizations, so kids and adults could see a real wolf, likely for the first time. They even made an appearance at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

“But the real power of Koani was that these people had the opportunity to look a real wolf in the eye,” said Weide, “and seldom did Koani ever live up to what a wolf should be in their imagination. … For them just to see this animal had a real impact on them gaining a new understanding of what wolves really are.”

Weide and Tucker took many videos documenting their life with Koani – scenes of Tucker and Koani howling together, Koani pulling them on skis, and Koani snarling menacingly when they did something she didn’t like. These videos form the fascinating nucleus of Rob Whitehair’s new documentary.

The film also has real and re-enacted scenes of wolf opponents at public meetings on the controversial reintroduction of wolves into Montana and Idaho – a controversy that has not diminished. Whitehair says he wanted to make the film in part to show the power of stories in our lives – and to question stories that show wolves as either demon or deity.

Weide says Koani proved they are neither. Yet he remains conflicted about their life together.
“Koani very literally stands as this symbol of the wild, and yet here she is in this captive life,” said Weide. “And I hope that makes viewers uncomfortable, because it made Pat and I uncomfortable for 16 years. But I like to think good came from that.”

Like other good documentaries, “True Wolf” raises as many questions as it answers, especially about the boundaries of our contemporary relationships with wild animals.

And you won’t soon forget the ending.


Friday, June 22, 2012

W.O.L.F. sanctuary finishes evacuation

All wolves now safe at Keenesberg sanctuary, Loveland residence
Jun 21, 2012   |  

Waltz with Wolves fundraiser to proceed as planned

In spite of the High Park Fire, and partly because of it, the annual W.O.L.F. Sanctuary fundraiser, Waltz with Wolves, will take place as scheduled.

The event, held from to10 p.m. June 30 at the Drake Center, 802 W. Drake Road in Fort Collins, will raise funds to support the no-kill sanctuary for wolves and wolf-dogs 20 miles northwest of Fort Collins.

Michelle Proulx, the primary animal caretaker for W.O.L.F. said the organization considered rescheduling when 17 wolves were stuck at the facility during the fire. Since their rescue, the organization has decided to proceed, and some funds will go to helping with costs incurred by the fire, including supporting the evacuated wolves.

Waltz for Wolves includes dinner, dancing, auctions and a visit by two “ambassador” wolves, Sasha and Pax. A table of 10 costs $375, and other tickets cost $40 before Monday, and $45 after Monday. They maybe purchased

In a final evacuation effort, a group of 17 wolves at the Bellvue W.O.L.F Sanctuary got out of harm’s way on Thursday, moving to temporary homes to ride out the rest of the High Park Fire.
With three large trucks and trailers, 15 volunteers and staff from W.O.L.F and the Wild Animal Sanctuary, or TWAS, in Keenesberg evacuated the wolves, who had been left behind after an earlier evacuation effort.

TWAS, one of the only facilities in the country that has the resources to transfer large carnivores, is now hosting 14 of the wolves at their facilities northeast of Denver. The remaining three wolves joined other W.O.L.F. evacuees at a Loveland residence.

At TWAS, all of the wolves are doing fine and are relaxing, sleeping and adjusting to their new surroundings, said Katie Vandegrift, a spokeswoman for TWAS.
“They’ve settled in nicely,” she said.

The wolves will remain at TWAS until it’s safe for them to return home, Vandegrift said.
Their new enclosures include wood chips, dog houses and pools with water. Each wolf has an enclosure to itself, except a few which are kept in pairs. The wolves are arranged in the same pattern as they were at W.O.L.F to preserve their hierarchical structure, said Michelle Proulx, the primary animal caretaker for W.O.L.F.

She said the wolves had done better than she expected.
“The atmosphere where they’re being kept in their temporary locations is very calm and quiet so that’s helping these guys adapt,” Proulx said.

Wolves can be difficult to transport because, when triggered by changes in their environment, they become stressed. Stress can cause an animal’s adrenal gland to fail and even kill the animal, if experienced for a prolonged period of time, Proulx said.

In spite of the risk, all 17 wolves were evacuated from W.O.L.F without injury.
In total, W.O.L.F usually hosts 30 wolves on its 180-acre property northwest of Fort Collins.
Of the 30, 11 were evacuated June 10 when the first evacuation order went out. Two were evacuated the following day, but the area was then closed, preventing the evacuation of the remaining 17 until Thursday.
To move the remaining wolves, volunteers formed a human wall and moved the wolves gradually into smaller and smaller enclosures until they could be caught and loaded into 5-by-6-foot transportation cages, said Pat Craig, the executive director of TWAS who helped with the evacuation.
Between the first and final evacuations, the fire came close to the W.O.L.F property, burning down a small cabin and three sheds.

The sanctuary managed to mitigate damage, however, with long-term wildfire preparation efforts. A donor provided funds in 2009 to thin overgrown forest areas and build a fire road.

The shelter has also been building “fire dens,” or 4-foot-deep concrete bunkers which could protect the wolves from fire even if they couldn’t be evacuated.

Proulx said the efforts helped prevent more damage from occurring as the High Park Fire came through.

“All of our prep efforts for an eventuality like this have paid off remarkably well,” she said. “I’d still say we had a little luck on our side in addition to preparation.”


Red Wolves born at Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington

Posted Jun 21, 2012

BLOOMINGTON — Miller Park Zoo has again added to the Red Wolf population.
WJBC Radio reports that two Red Wolf pups were born at the Bloomington zoo and can now be seen in the Red Wolf habitat.

Zoo Superintendent Jay Tetzloff says Red Wolves are an endangered species. He says there were only 14 pure Red Wolves known to be alive in the world in 1970 and those wolves later were removed from the wild to establish a breeding program.

Tetzloff says now there are about 179 Red Wolves in 40 institutions, including Miller Park Zoo.
The central Illinois zoo has exhibited the wolves since 1993, and Tetzloff says the latest births are a great success for the national Red Wolf Species Survival Program.


Small Wolves vs Giant Alaskan Brown Bear

Jun 21 2012
Posted under American Lion Extinction by Zora Mitary american lion extinction Wolves are known to kill aslakan brown bears through cooperation and pack mentality. The brown bear in this video is one of the largest in the world. The Male bears here are 5 times the size of a male african lion. Replace Hyenas in Africa, with Grey wolves, that have mental toughness and the canine pack mentality. Packs of 80 grey wolfs. Lions would be killed off and go extinct pretty fast. Hyenas though they kill many lions, lack the mental toughness of canines, there closer related to cats then dogs, and mongooses then anything. Hyenas are extremely overrated, in the fact they lack the pack mentality, all for one, one for all. If hyenas had mental toughness and worked like a wolf pack an they number in the 60′s to 80′s. Goodbye lions. But evolution has it’s way.


Audience dispels wolf myths, becomes ‘wildlife warriors'

The Walton Sun
Onlookers in a crowd of more than 100 tried out their best wolf howls at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center last week.
The crowd was trying to make four three-week-old wolf pups share their tiny howls. Cynthia Watkins, of Seacrest Wolf Preserve in Chipley, brought these newborn puppies, along with skunks and groundhogs, to “empower” those gathered with knowledge and dispel common misunderstandings about the very important creatures.

Watkins said wolves’ maligned reputation stems from 16th century Europe. These animals were seen as dangerous creatures that were a bane on human existence because they’d eat precious livestock. Watkins said they became so despised, King Edward allowed people to pay taxes with wolf heads.
This irrational fear of wolves was cemented with the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood,” and the rest is history. Clearly it is difficult to shake the picture of a sneaky, menacing carnivore that would victimize a sweet old grandma.

“These myths and fears and misunderstanding for this amazing species still plagues them,” said Watkins.
She said wolves live in groups not too much different from human families.
Wolves are family centered, living in the wild and in captivity in closely knit packs. The alpha male and alpha females mate for life, and love their babies, the births of which are commemorated with a very special howl.

Like human parents, mommy and daddy wolves teach their babies the virtues of being good wolves, the first lesson being one in respect for authority.
Alicia Goddin of Freeport brought her own pack of eight to the presentation. The children, ages 8 to 11, said seeing and holding the wolves was “GOOD!” and they enjoyed interacting with the groundhog as well.

Jayce Goddin, 8, said it wasn’t his first time holding a wolf.
“I touched a big one at the zoo,” he said. But Jayce couldn’t get enough because the wolf is his favorite animal.
“We’ve lived here all of our lives,” said Alicia, “but we haven’t gone to Seacrest.”
But though she and her pack haven’t made their way to Chipley just yet, from the positive response the children gave her with the wolves, they will soon.

Seacrest is the largest wolf preserve in the southeastern United States, covering 430 acres. Visitors experience the most interactive experience possible with the wolves. On tours, adults and children don’t just view them through glass or chain link; they get to get into the enclosures with the wolves.
Because they have been widely eradicated in North and South America, very few wolves still live in the wild. As a keystone species, however, the wolves fill an irreplaceable role in the ecosystem and other species depend on the gray wolves to maintain a balance. These carnivores are responsible for keeping populations of elk, bison, and deer at bay and thinning out the populations of sick, old and young animals to maintain that balance.

“All the animals have a job to do for planet earth. They’re all important,” said Watkins, and Seacrest is vital in the partnership to ensure wolves are existing to fill that role.
“Educational opportunities like this empower us,” added Watkins, before asking the crowd of kids “Who wants to be a wildlife warrior for planet earth?”