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Fall 2019

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Features


 

New Exhibit Opens to Rave Reviews
By Chad Richardson

A new experience awaits you at the International Wolf Center in Ely! The colorful, sensory-rich new exhibit combines technology and creativity with sights, sounds and activities to teach and entertain at the same time.

Women and Wolves
By Debra Mitts-Smith

These four female biologists study different aspects of wolf behavior and survival. In part one, the author looks at their backgrounds and research topics—and shares fascinating stories about the realities of field research on an apex predator in the wild. Read full article.

Wolves and Moose Calves in Minnesota’s Arrowhead Region
By Bill Severud

The author explores the relationship between wolves and moose in Minnesota, where a declining moose population is not entirely attributable to predators. Minnesota DNR research shows how wolf predation affects those numbers—and how it does not.

My Time with Male 911
by Doug Smith

Veteran wolf researcher Doug Smith reflects on one of his notable subjects—Wolf M911, a denizen of Yellowstone and a pack  leader in his younger days—and on the ways in which nature affects wolves, and wolves affect the humans who study them.

Departments


 

From the Board Chair

Thank You, Lori Schmidt, for 30 years of leadership
by Nancy jo Tubbs

It would be hard to decide, after Lori Schmidt’s three decades as curator at the International Wolf Center, whether her strongest talents lay in the skilled observation of the wolves in her care, or her charismatic instruction of the humans who come to learn about them. Wolf Care staff, volunteers, visitors, webwatchers and hundreds of supporters rely on Lori’s logs and commentary, webinars and pup year events as they follow each wolf, its personality and its behaviors.

Tracking the Pack

Taking the Lead—Pack Life After Aidan
by Lori Schmidt, wolf curator, International Wolf Center

In the spring of 2020, the International Wolf Center will again introduce a pair of pups into the existing exhibit pack according to our Wolf Care Management Plan. We have successfully integrated pups every four years for the last two decades, and we have learned from every positive and negative factor of each previous introduction.

Member Profile

“For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.” – Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book
by Susan Ricci

Wolves hold a special place in the hearts of our International Wolf Center supporters, but one young member has found an even deeper connection.

Twelve-year-old Jiena Lee has fanconi anemia, also known as FA, a rare and life-threatening genetic disorder that can lead to leukemia and many cancers. The disease took the life of her little brother, Mason, three years ago. While Jiena has spent many long months in the hospital undergoing tests and procedures, one thing has remained constant through it all—her passion for wolves.

WildKids

Grown-Up Pup!

Wolf pups that were born in late Aprilor early May are now approaching six months of age.

A lot has changed since spring. For the first few months of their lives, they were very dependent on the adults in the pack. They spent most of their time in or around the den, and later, in summer rendezvous sites. Visit our Wildkids section.

Wolves of the World

Bringing Wolves to Scotland, as with Other Locales, Proves Contentious
by Tracy O’connell

Efforts to re-wild the Scottish Highlands with (among other features) the return of wolves, remain vigorously debated by people who, in some circumstances, might be on the same side of such a discussion. Wealthy Englishman Paul Lister wants to bring the predators to his 23,000-acre estate northwest of Inverness to advance efforts he has made since he purchased the land, which he named the Alladale Wilderness Reserve, 16 years ago.
 
MONGOLIA
The wolf is revered here, where Genghis Khan is believed to have descended from the union of a wolf and an elk. It is considered a potent symbol of Mongolian identity and nationhood, writes Rebecca Watters in Mountain Journal, a non-profit publication focused on the Yellowstone region of the American west. Watters, who has worked on conservation and human rights issues in Mongolia, Kenya, Cambodia and India, as well as the western U.S., is executive director of the Wolverine Foundation and founder of the Mongolian Wolverine Project. She explains that in Mongolia, wolves are considered by some as Heaven’s Dogs and emissaries of Tengri (the Sky), who is the chief deity of the Mongolian people.
 
SANDINAVIA
Ancestry of wolves here has been studied closely to determine the extent to which they might be inbred, on one hand, and hybridized with dogs on the other. Wolves returned to Sweden and Norway in the 1980s and 1990s, after it was commonly believed they had been extirpated in both countries. Today they account for an estimated 430 animals that are known to be highly inbred due to their small population and so few incoming wolves—only five known immigrants since 1991—bringing new bloodlines from elsewhere.
 
CHINA
Visitors to the Wuhan Mt. Jiufeng Forest Zoo in the Hubei Province city of Wuhan complained of being duped when a sign indicated a cage held a wolf, but instead they saw a dog. A media flurry ensued over the “deception” until zookeepers explained the male wolf, separated from his pack because of frequent fighting, was indeed in the cage, but inside a shelter, napping. The female dog was put in with the wolf to keep him company after he was isolated from his pack and displayed signs the zookeepers took to be depression. The pair has shared space for two years. Reportedly, come meal time, the wolf lets the dog eat first.

 

Personal Encounter

The Littlest Great Predator: Wolf Hunts Observed
by Ilona Popper

It was a cold February day near the Slough Creek Road in Yellowstone National Park. A group of us was watching wolves hunting—two different hunts. We could see the Slough Creek pack to the north, testing a herd of elk, but I trained my spotting scope on 527’s group. The three wolves were attacking a bull elk on the south side of the road, a half mile from where I stood.

A Look Beyond

Do the Mexican Wolf and the Red Wolf Deserve Distinct Classification?
by Dr. Diane Boyd

I recently was privileged to serve on a committee appointed by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to tackle a nearly five-decade-old challenge: assessing the taxonomic status of the Mexican gray wolf and the red wolf. No small task! The committee comprised nine topnotch scientists (geneticists, population/evolutionary ecologists, and conservation biologists), and three NAS professionals who skillfully facilitated the process.

This review was a result of an appropriations bill of the U.S. Congress directing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to obtain an  independent assessment on the distinctness of two endangered wolves: the Mexican gray wolf as a subspecies (Canis lupus baileyi) and the red wolf as a species (Canis rufus). Scientists disagree on whether each is a valid taxon, different from other North American gray wolves. The review was critical because the findings could have significant conservation implications for both.

Book Review

“Return of the Wolf: Conflict and Coexistence” by Paula Wild
by Debra Mitts-Smith

Paula Wild’s Return of the Wolf: Coexistence and Conflict provides a provocative updated look at the human-wolf relationship. Although her topics range from myths and legends to scientific information about the wolf, her main focus is on current policies and attitudes toward the wolf. And though she includes updated information on the wolf’s recovery in Europe and its status in Asia, her main focus is the wolf in North America—especially Canada.