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Summer 2017

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Features


 

Wildlife Research: From Ear Tags to Armchair
By Dr. L. David Mech

Biologists have been tracking all kinds of wildlife for centuries to learn about animal physiology and behavior. But the ways scientists follow the movements of large animals through their environments has radically changed in the last few decades, as preeminent wolf biologist Dave Mech reveals in this tale of low-tech tracking and high-tech transitions. Read full article.

We Wish They All Could Be California Wolves
By Amaroq Weiss

Since a male wolf called OR-7 entered California from Oregon six years ago, that state’s wolf population has been growing, and a statewide conservation and management plan has become necessary. Amaroq Weiss describes the careful process behind the recently introduced plan, and the hopes of conservationists for a thriving wolf population and peaceful coexistence between wolves and humans.

 

Departments


 

From the Executive Director

How Fast They’ve Grown!
by Rob Schultz

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since Axel and Grayson made their long journey from Canada to become members of the Center’s Exhibit Pack!

 
The day they arrived, they weighed only four pounds each. Tuckered out after a long flight from Toronto to Ely, they seemed quite happy to find a quiet corner where they could fall asleep in the Wolf Care Center. Our volunteers and staff worked eagerly and carefully to tend to their needs and begin the socialization program that all our ambassador wolves have shared. Those first few days were a memorable time for us all.

Tracking the Pack

Meeting the Needs of a Social Carnivore
by Lori Schmidt, wolf curator, International Wolf Center

When the International Wolf Center’s Ambassador Wolf Program began in 1989, pack formation was accomplished by raising and managing even-aged litters to form packs in 1989 and 1993. Since 2000, unrelated pups have been introduced and socialized into the Exhibit pack.

Member Profile

From the Mailbag
by Aoife O’Connell, age 9

The pine trees whipped past as I urged my parents to drive faster up the highway to the International Wolf Center. It was my ninth birthday and we were in Ely, Minnesota. In my lap was my camera, and I was grasping it so hard my fingers hurt.

We were finally there! Inside was a long hallway with triangular windows at both ends that resembled wolf ears. In a small room called “Little Wolf” I sat at a table to draw, and then put on a wolf
mask and pretended to be a wolf pup.

Baseball, Blizzards and Wolves
by Krista Harrington, development director, International Wolf Center

Born and raised in Ely, newlywed and International Wolf Center member Paul Ivancich has been serving up ice cream and other treats to Ely area residents and visitors for decades.

Paul’s parents bought the Ely Dairy Queen 50 years ago in March 1967 when it was a seasonal, walk-up location. His mom is a former school teacher who is still involved in running the restaurant. Dad was a foreman at the former Reserve Mining in nearby Babbitt, Minnesota. Teachers from Ely High School used to live in the restaurant’s basement during the school year!

Arctic Wolves

The complex social structure of a successful wolf pack requires a series of behaviors in newcomers that includes seeking acceptance, creating bonds, establishing hierarchy and finally, becoming an efficiently functioning member of the pack. The International Wolf Center ambassador wolves are not “family,” for the most part; they come from different parts of the world. But they each come with the same wild instinct to form a bonded whole—to create a social hierarchy and play the roles that, in nature, protect the pack and keep its members alive, well and adequately fed.

Wolves of the World

Wolf Fans And Foes Sound Off Around The World
by Tracy O’connell

CANADA
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry announced that Ontario has closed the hunting and trapping of all wolves and coyotes in four provincial parks to support recovery of the Algonquin wolf, because of its resemblance to the other canids.
 
UNITED STATES
Isle Royale in Lake Superior, meanwhile, has been the focus of media attention as its population of wolves is believed to have held at two aging and related animals over the past winter. Various courses of action are being considered to replenish wolf numbers (see Spring 2017 IW), which supporters of the effort say is important to achieve ecological balance that will (among other effects) keep the size of the island’s moose herd in check. Under discussion are four proposals for release timetables, numbers and methodologies—none which will happen before 2018.
 
FINLAND
A dog vest designed to fight back in the event of a wolf attack will be tested in 2017 in the eastern town of Nurmes, where there is a great deal of wolf activity reported. If a wolf attacks a dog wearing the vest and punctures the fabric, cartridges sewn into the fabric release chili powder that sprays on the wolf’s face and mouth.
 
FRANCE
Construction of a second airport near the city of Pune, near India’s southwestern coast, may pit developers against environmentalists over the survival of wolves and other endangered species. Pune is in the western state of Maharashtra, India’s third-largest state by area and the world’s second-most populated sub-national entity, with 112 million residents. (India’s capital, Mumbai, called “Bombay” until 20 years ago, has 18 million inhabitants.)
 
ITALY
A government plan for a cull of up to 5 percent of the wolf population here met with the expected cry from environmentalists who, among other things, cited the government’s inability to establish an accurate population count, with numbers ranging from 1,070 to 2,472 living in the mountainous regions of the Appenines, and another 150 in the Alps. Equally elusive, wolf
supporters claim, is an estimate of the damage wolves cause. Instead of a cull, a 22-point plan is being promoted that includes a new census and non-lethal means of control.
 

Personal Encounter

A Bone to Pick: One Pack’s Drama Over Feeding an Old Wolf
by Ilona Popper
 
We saw the wolves about a mile below us. They had killed an elk at the base of a long drainage and were eating at the carcass: the black breeding female; the gray breeding male, 685M; and several of their pups, only a month away from their first birthday. Soon, their mother would whelp a new litter.
 

In Memory

Bob Ream—Environmentalist, Teacher, Leader, Friend—Dead at 80
by Nancy jo Tubbs

Bob Ream, whose landmark work for wolves and conservation in Montana took him from wilderness research to university professorship to statehouse, died of prostate cancer on March 22, 2017 at the age of 80.

He left his mark on the International Wolf Center, where he served on the board of directors from 1997 until 2003, and where he will be missed.

Ream wrote for International Wolf magazine in1997, supporting recolonization of wolves from Canada to Glacier National Park, Montana, but his history with wolf research goes back to his meeting with Dr. L. David Mech, who says, “I met Bob in 1968 when he was a U.S. Forest Service plant ecologist headquartered at the Kawishiwi Field Lab near Ely. The Forest Service assigned him to assist me when I started live-trapping and radio-collaring wolves. He was with me when I collared our first wolf, No. 1051. Just a few days before Bob died, we reminisced about this, and Bob even remembered the wolf’s number.

WildKids

Citizen Science

This young man, watching our ambassador wolves in their enclosure, is demonstrating observation, a first step in practicing citizen science! All over the world, girls and boys dream of putting on lab coats and becoming scientists. Some kids want to be biologists, some want to study human behavior, some want to be astronomers—but most of them make one mistake.

A Look Beyond

Can Wolves Help Save Japan’s Mountain Forests?
by Text and photos by Shannon Barber-Meyer

Japan is facing a major problem. The understories of its beautiful mountain forests are being killed by overabundant sika deer and wild boars. Even taller trees are suffering from bark stripping
and girdling by deer. Efforts to halt soil erosion on steep mountain slopes consist of concrete lattices and soil “dams” embedded into the mountainside. Fences are erected to keep deer out—but fences must be maintained, deer can jump fences, and fencing simply can’t be put everywhere it’s needed.

Book Review

Journey: The Amazing Story Of OR-7, The Oregon Wolf That Made History
Book Review by Debra Mitts-Smith
 

Beckie Elgin’s book Journey: The Amazing Story of OR-7, the Oregon Wolf that Made History offers young readers an in-depth look at why OR-7 is such an iconic wolf. Published in 2016, the book is an entertaining and educational read recommended for grades four through eight.

Since the day he was born in 2009, OR-7 has been making history. He was one of the first wild-born pups in Oregon in more than 60 years. In fact his moniker, “OR-7,” designates him as the seventh Oregon wolf to be radio-collared by wildlife biologists.

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