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Winter 2017

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Features


 

Wisconsin Study Shows Wolves Benefit Forests
by Tracy O’Connell

“Trophic cascade” is the term used to describe the effect predators may have on an entire ecosystem. Trophic refers to nutrition, and when wolves prey on other animals to get their food, the effects can cascade throughout the environment. Scientists have not reached agreement on the topic, but a recent study in Wisconsin supports the notion that wolves—and their nutritional needs—do benefit the ecosystem.

Apex Carnivore Competition: What does the return of the wolf mean for cougar populations in Oregon?
by Beth Orning

Cougars have rebounded in Oregon since the 1960s, and wolves have expanded into the Pacific Northwest since reintroduction elsewhere in the 1990s. Now, important questions arise as to how these carnivores will coexist and what effects they may have on prey species. Researchers from Oregon State
University and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are collaborating to find answers.

Wood River Wolf Project Helps Idaho Sheep and Wolves Share the Landscape
by Avery Shawler

When a shepherd in northeastern Oregon is awakened by barks and snarls, he knows his dogs are facing off with predators—and because of the Wood River Wolf Project, he may now have tools to protect his flock and preserve the wolves. No wolves have been killed in the project area since 2008, and while the project is not the only deterrent, it appears to be a significant one. Download full article.

Departments


 

From the Executive Director

Peanut Butter-Flavored Bubbles
by Rob Schultz

Throughout the year, our wolves at the International Wolf Center endure many of the same challenges faced by wolves in the wild—rain, wind, snow, and cold and hot temperatures, to name a few. And as anyone who has visited northern Minnesota can attest, there’s one more factor our wolves face—bugs!

 
For most wolves, flying bugs are just a seasonal nuisance. But for one of our ambassador wolves, Boltz, they are a seasonal nightmare. Over the years, he’s developed a strong dislike for them. During the short summers in northern Minnesota, visitors often see Boltz twisting and turning as he tries to knock them out of the sky.
 
All that activity got our staff thinking about what they could do to help.
 
Enter peanut butter-flavored bubbles.

Tracking the Pack

Summer Enrichments
by Lori Schmidt, wolf curator, International Wolf Center

During summer, wolf care staff conduct a daily program called “Wolf Enrichment” to provide stimuli to the Exhibit Pack during the noon hour, when members are typically less active. This program allows wolf care staff to get a mid-day assessment of the wolves’ conditions related to biting flies, heat and humidity. The guaranteed
presence of the wolves also draws a large crowd at the auditorium windows to watch the behavioral responses to a variety of enrichment activities.

Member Profile

A Rendezvous with Ann Beyer
by David Kline

When wolf enthusiasts think of the word “rendezvous,” they probably picture a wolf pack’s meeting site. But to long-time International Wolf Center member Ann Beyer, it has another definition.

Wolves of the World

Wolves: Revered, Reviled, Researched, Robotized
by Tracy O’connell

CANADA
Someone seems to be poisoning wolves in East Kootenay in British Columbia.
 
JAPAN
Proponents of reintroducing wolves in Japan to counter destruction by herbivores have had a difficult time gaining public support. Now a robot has been developed to help counter the destruction—or at least part of it.
 
DENMARK
The return of wolves to Denmark has been met with a flurry of predictable, conflicting responses. Queries about how many wolves lived in the country have arisen
since the first wolf of recent times was documented five years ago.
 
INDIA
There has been no evidence of wolves in an area designated for a major new airport, according to the development company involved. Environmentalists were concerned that the airport siting would adversely affect Indian wolves in the area (see Wolves of the World, IW, Spring 2017) along with other endangered species.
 
FRANCE
In July, the French government gave the go-ahead to cull up to 40 wolves in mountain areas, mostly in the southeast, where they allegedly have killed about 8,000 farm animals, mostly sheep, over the past year.
 
MEXICO
A wolf sacrificed 500 years ago and adorned with fine Aztec gold has been found buried in the heart of Mexico City.
 
NEPAL
 
Efforts to determine if the Himalayan wolf is a different species than the gray wolf were said to have advanced with a paper published in June that claims the Himalayan wolf deserves recognition as C. lupus himalayensis, establishing it as a subspecies while its recognition as a fully separate species is determined.

Personal Encounter

Mollies in the Moonlight
by Laurie Lyman
 

As an elementary school teacher, I began studying wolves through the books and films of Dave Mech and Jim Dutcher more than 20 years ago, and I’ve been watching the
wolves in Yellowstone National Park, documenting their travels and behavior ever since. I followed their reintroduction to Yellowstone, never thinking I would ever see wolves in the wild. But I took classes and purchased a spotting scope, and soon I was hooked. I decided that my heart was in Yellowstone and retired early to move near the park so I could watch the wolves.

WildKids

Ambassador Wolf Behavior

International Wolf Center visitors often ask our staff what the ambassador wolves might be thinking—especially when the wolves come up to the windows and peer inside. People assume they may be interested in food or looking for wolf care staff, but in fact, we have no way of knowing exactly what animals think or feel.

 

Book Review

American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West
book review by Debra Mitts-Smith
 
In American Wolf, Nate Blakesee begins his tale where the story of Wolf 06, one of Yellowstone’s most famous wolves, ends—with a hunter raising his rifle, sighting his scope and choosing between O-Six (as the author calls her) and her mate, Wolf 755.

A Look Beyond

What Will Happen When Wolves Show Up?
by Nancy jo Tubbs

Dr. L. David Mech asked in the title of his 2017 paper in the journal Biological Conservation, “Where can wolves live and how can we live with them?” It’s a pithy, key question, the answers to which will determine the future of wolves in places dominated by human populations.

 
The piece is an 11-point primer on “the recovery of wolves, their benefits and values, the ways in which they conflict with humans, and the potential for their expansion into new areas. It concludes that wolf conservation will best be accomplished by each responsible political entity adaptively prescribing different management strategies for different zones within its purview. Some zones for some periods can support total protection, whereas in others, wolf numbers will have to be reduced to various
degrees or removed.”