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BoltzThis male pup was originally nicknamed Bolts for his characteristic of bolting through the wolf yard and open gates to gain access to the shared fence line with Aidan and Denali. He is approximately 8 days older than Luna, so his skills and abilities were more enhanced. A Name the Pup contest suggested a spelling change for his name and it received the most votes out of four choices. Wolf Care Staff were happy with the results since it really fit his personality. Boltz is representative of the Great Plains subspecies, and joined the Exhibit Pack on July 30th, 2012.  Boltz was a pupmate to Luna, the only female of the Exhibit Pack from 2012-2016 and his status in the pack was described as low ranking.  In addition to lack of status, he developed a phobia about summertime insects, particularly wasps, hornets and bees. When he heard something buzzing overhead, he would drop his head and retreat to the wooded portion of the enclosure.  This certainly didn’t help his status.  In 2016, arctic pups, Axel and Grayson were introduced into the Exhibit Pack and this certainly helped Boltz socially.  He had a great bond with the pups and worked in tandem with Axel to test the pack leader Aidan in the fall of 2017 throughout the winter of 2018.  Since his testing of Aidan, he seemed to strive for pack leadership, but seems more comfortable being a middle-ranking wolf.  We certainly wonder how the summer 2018 insect season will impact Boltz’s behavior and status. 

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Recent Logs for Boltz:

Boltz- Forest Dweller

July 2nd, 2018

In the past few weeks, the return of the Minnesota insect season has kept Boltz as a forest dweller, spending most of the day in the protective shade of the forest.  This is great for his ears, as he doesn’t have any of the nasty fly bites at the tips of his ears that require a treatment of fly ointment.  It is not so great due to the fact that his self-imposed isolation from the pack results in some unwanted attention upon his return.  Even though the wolves reside within the same enclosure, there is still a psychological component to separations from the social group, even if it’s just for the day.  There’s no doubt this is more challenging for Boltz because he seems to have voluntarily decreased his rank this spring, but anyone in Minnesota knows, summer is a short season and it won’t be long before the leaves are turning and Boltz is back in the action.  If you are a viewer to our Youtube channel, you may have heard about Boltz’s bout of laryngitis.  He has low tones, but he can’t hit the high notes, especially when howling.  The Veterinarians are still researching this,  but it doesn’t seem to have any impact on his food consumption or activity levels.  

Boltz not pleased about sharing his sand pile

Boltz – Sand Pile Posturing

June 7th, 2018

We know that insects congregate towards vegetation.  Whether it’s black flies and leatherleaf or yellow jackets preying on the insects that congregate in the vegetation, Boltz takes issue with their presence, no matter what they are. In an effort to give Boltz some relief, we had a 5-yard load of sand delivered to the wolf exhibit.  We use the sand to fill holes, but more importantly, the wolves use the sand as a resting place.  Combined with the Center’s misting system, the sand provides a cool, insect free place to rest.  In this photo, Boltz responds with some intimidation to Axel’s presence on the sandpile with ears pricked and turned sideways (EPTS in the Ethogram).   Boltz seems to have accepted Grayson’s posturing, but something about Axel continues to make him nervous.  Leadership of this pack next fall may still be contentious as leadership is not just about dominance, but it’s about alliances.  We know Boltz has an alliance with Denali, but as Denali ages and transitions into retirement, Boltz will be left to transition into new relationships.  From current observations, Grayson seems to be the preference for Boltz. 

Boltz seeking some reassurance Denali while resting

Boltz – Let The Timid Season Begin

May 16th, 2018

Staff is certainly watching Boltz’s response to the summer season, also known as the bug season that has affected Boltz in the past.  This is the time of the year where Boltz becomes more timid, often staying up in the wooded area of the enclosure where a full compliment of shade results in less insects.  This self-imposed isolation to the upper enclosure can impact his pack relationships.  Last summer, we noticed that  Grayson and Axel would posture over Boltz as he came down from the woodline at the end of a summer day.   Last summer, they were yearlings and as such, were not as keyed into rank order; as adults, their posturing and focus on Boltz could have more influence.   We have already observed a change in Boltz’s confidence as he seemed to strive for leadership this winter, but then settled to be lower ranking in the pack.  The one factor that might be relevant this summer is that Boltz still has a tendency to intimidate Aidan.  Wolf care staff note that they can tell when there’s been some pack dynamic issues overnight because Boltz  is more socially interactive with staff when he’s postured over Aidan.  If that dynamics continues to occur, it might be enough of a boost to help overcome some of his summer time phobias. 

While the other wolves do fluctuate with weight, Boltz has remained very consistent over the years.  He is a poster boy for great bone conformation and is often used in comparison for Luna because they were raised during the same time frame with the same diet.  We are very pleased that Boltz has no inhibitions coming into the Wolf Care Center to be weighed.  


6/5/2013 Boltz 102.5 lb  1 year 2.5 mo
8/14/2013 Boltz 109.56 lb  1 year 5 months
6/13/2014 Boltz 111.9 lbs 2 years 1 month
5/1/2015 Boltz 109.34 lbs 3 years 2 month 
6/10/2016 Boltz 111.1 lbs 4 years 3 months
5/2/2017 Boltz 107 lbs 5 years 1.5 months
6/30/2017 Boltz 109 lbs 5 years 3 months
8/2/2017 Boltz 107.8 l bs 5 years 5 months 
4/2/2018 Boltz 107.2 ~ 6 years 
4/30/2018 Boltz 111.4 6 years 2 months


Weight: 111.4

Boltz is back in summertime mode

Boltz – Summertime Mode

April 29th, 2018

Boltz is back on the greeting rock lounging like a summer day.  With the tremendous help from the Vermilion College Natural Resource students, most of the wet winter hay has been removed from the Exhibit Pack area.  The greeting rock was pressure washed to remove the winter effects of ravens that lingered in the exhibit.  Boltz continues to show subordinate tendencies to Denali, especially during the feeding program.  On the April 27th feeding, Denali allowed Axel to feed, but wouldn’t allow Grayson and Boltz near the carcass. This prompted Boltz to food beg to Denali in order to approach the carcass.  While rank order and food possession are independent behaviors, Boltz displays similar body language.  Staff monitor feedings and scat coloration to indicate which wolf may need supplemental food to meet their needs. 

Boltz - Life in the Middle

Boltz – Facing Off The Pair

April 15th, 2018

As we have reported before, Boltz seemed to go to the top of the rank earlier this winter, then seemed to be move back down as spring approached.  He has been seeking reassurance from Denali, and is often paying homage to him by parallel gating, rubbing under his chin and rolling submissively to the ground.  The issue he’s having is that Axel and Grayson continue to try to face off with Boltz and that’s not a position that gives him comfort. There is no doubt that Boltz is at a disadvantage by not having a littermate, certainly Axel and Grayson spend a fair amount of time engaged in the same behavior, but Boltz does have Denali.  On most days, Denali is a formidable distraction.  Boltz continues to be a concern for Aidan, even if Boltz is showing no threat display, if he walks by Aidan, Aidan quickly drops his tail and whirls to face him, rarely allowing Boltz behind him.  Of course, all things change when food is involved.  Rank behavior is not the same as food defense. Aidan can easily drive Boltz from food and does so on a frequent basis.  Wolf Care staff wrote the following notes “Boltz was watching staff rake the cover hay beds when Boltz bolted towards Axel, who was attempting to take a cache from the raked beds.  Axel immediately dropped it and Boltz stood guard through the rest of wolf care”.  There are two important points to note in this staff entry.  First and most importantly, Staff need to be diligent about “Situational Awareness” at all times.  Wolf caches are guarded and can be defended with a bite even to the handlers.  Secondly, even though people feel bad about lower ranking wolves, just because a wolf is lower ranking, doesn’t mean it’s entire life is dictated by the other wolves.  Wolves have social rules that allow the omega’s some freedom.  One of those rules includes the concept “if a lower ranking wolf can tug and get a piece of a carcass from a kill, they can carry it off and guard it, even from the most dominant wolf”.  Life is complex in a wolf pack and these rules help the dynamics of all individuals interact.  Remember, they are social carnivores first and foremost.

Weight: 107.2