Where is Oregon’s most famous wolf now? OR-7, famous for long journey, settles in as pack leader   2 comments

December 13, 2017 Source

In the approximately six years after his well-documented journey across Oregon, which included Deschutes County, the gray wolf best known as OR-7 has established new wolf populations in Southern Oregon and Northern California. As the nearly 9-year-old wolf settles into old age, he’s remembered as a patriarch, a grandfather and a pioneer for Oregon’s burgeoning wolf population.

“He’s been a great ambassador for the species,” said Rob Klavins, Northeast Oregon field coordinator for Oregon Wild, a Portland-based environmental nonprofit.

Today, OR-7 is the alpha male of the Rogue Pack, a group of 11 or 12 wolves that spends much of its time in the Rogue River National Forest in Southern Oregon. OR-7 and his long-time mate — who doesn’t have a radio collar or a designation — produced a litter of pups this spring, according to John Stephenson, wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Bend office.

“Most of the biologists thought he’d never find a mate,” Stephenson said.

Moreover, several of OR-7’s earlier pups have built upon his legacy, as one pup traveled to Northern California, establishing the beginnings of a wolf population there.

Gray wolves are native to Oregon, but as human populations increased in the state at the beginning of the 20th century, wolf populations decreased. For much of the second half of the century, there were no confirmed wolves in the state. However, wolves were reintroduced to Idaho in the 1990s and gradually made their way to Oregon. By the end of 2011, Oregon’s wolf population had grown to 29 known wolves, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, concentrated in the northeastern corner of the state.

OR-7 — nicknamed “Journey” following an online contest put together by Oregon Wild — was around 2 years old when he left the Imnaha Pack in far Northeastern Oregon in 2011. Stephenson said 2-year-old wolves often break away from their packs in order to find mates and start new families. While wolves require a lot of territory, Klavins said how far wolves travel while “looking for love and adventure” is very dependent on the individual.

OR-7’s travels, which spanned thousands of miles, took him from the Wallowa Mountains in Northeast Oregon toward Burns, through parts of Crook and Deschutes counties and eventually toward the spine of the Cascade Mountains. The gray wolf wandered into California in search of a mate, making him the first wolf confirmed in the Golden State in nearly a century. By crossing the Cascades, he also became the first confirmed wolf in Western Oregon in more than 60 years.

While Klavins said Southern and Eastern Oregon have plenty of good terrain where OR-7 could set up a territory, no other wolves lived in the area, so he kept wandering in search of a mate. Stephenson added that his travels took him across Interstate 5 in California near Yreka, not once but twice.

“That’s no small feat,” he said.

Stephenson said the combination of the wolf’s long, possibly unprecedented journey and a radio collar allowed viewers to track the wolf’s progress as it traveled across the state.

“It was the first time we could document that he made this incredible journey,” Stephenson said.

Like so many wanderers before him, OR-7 eventually found a mate and settled down. Stephenson said not much is known about OR-7’s mate, a black wolf believed to be slightly younger than he is, though she is believed to be part of the Oregon population of wolves. The state’s population numbered at least 112 wolves in 2016, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Stephenson added that the duo has had pups in April for each of the past four years, though their litter of six pups this April was the pair’s largest litter to date. Stephenson added that the snowy winter, which favors wolves over their prey, could have helped them produce a larger litter than normal.

One of OR-7’s pups from a prior litter arrived in Lassen County, in northeastern California, according to Kent Laudon, wolf specialist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Laudon said OR-7’s pup, along with a female wolf whose origins are unknown, are the first pair of wolves to establish territory in that portion of California in years.

The pair had pups in April, and Laudon said photos in June show the wolves accompanied by four pups. In California, where the known wolf population is under 10, a large litter could help the species develop a foothold, according to Laudon.

“Once you have a breeding unit on the land, that makes a big difference,” he said.

Still, OR-7’s legacy is marred somewhat by a couple of incidents. Last October, ODFW investigated an incident where Southern Oregon wolves killed two calves on private land and injured another. Michelle Dennehy, the wildlife communications coordinator for ODFW, confirmed that the Rogue Pack was responsible for the attacks.

Separately, Laudon said the pack in Lassen County was tied to two attacks — one confirmed as a wolf attack and one probable one — in a span of two weeks this fall.

The battery in OR-7’s radio collar died in 2015, leaving researchers without a consistent way to monitor the wolf. Still, a trail camera caught a photo of the famous wolf earlier this year, and Stephenson said there’s no reason to believe OR-7 isn’t still alive in Southern Oregon.

While stories inspire for different reasons, Klavins said one reason that OR-7’s story took off — spawning a website, attention from fans on every continent except Antarctica, and a documentary film — is that it came during a time when wolves were becoming increasingly politicized, but ultimately transcended those politics.

“What was nice about the story of OR-7 is that it was a story about a real wolf doing real-wolf things,” Klavins said.


 

 

Posted 16 December, 2017 by Wolf is my Soul in News/Nyheter

Clear statement from the EU against legal wolf hunting   Leave a comment

December 6, 2017 SOURCE

Despite the continuing expansion of the wolf in Europe, in particular, Central Europe, the EU Commission does not want to change the wolf’s protective status. Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Agriculture, stated to the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung” that the wolf is still an endangered species in most parts of the EU. Therefore, a focused hunting of the animals to minimise their population in counterproductive and will be prohibited.

This clear statement of the EU Commission follows the request of the German Minister for Agriculture Christian Schmidt. He asked the EU Commission to change the strict protective status of the wolf to simplify its hunting. The Minister for Agriculture of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Till Backhaus, supported this request.

EU supports herd management measures

According to Hogan, the EU Commission is aware that the spreading of the wolf causes problems. A survey of the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung” in the federal states of Germany last year, revealed that since the return of the wolf, more than 3500 out of 1,800,000 livestock animals have been killed in Germany. In contrast, approximately 50.000 were killed by lightning, bad weather and infections like worms. Also, almost all of the livestock killed were unprotected.

Mr. Hogan stated that this is recognized by the EU and that a better protection of grazing livestock will be financially supported. Furthermore, the current regulation already allows the shooting of individual animals. But only if it serves the “population management” and does not jeopardize the survival of the species. This includes the shooting of so-called “problem wolves”, such as “Kurti”. The state government of Lower Saxony instructed to shoot him in April 2016 after he continuously came close to people and beg for food. It turned out that he most surely was fed by a soldier in his first years being part of the Wolfpack Leo based in the military training ground Munster in Lower Saxony.

Herd protection dogs

 

Decisions like this are backed up by homepages such as the Swiss homepage chwolf.org. There it says that the wolf is an integral part of a forest’s biodiversity. Studies prove that the wolf actively contributes to the natural balance of ecosystems. Furthermore, its presence can lead to more vital game populations. This is because the wolf has a regulating effect on game populations. Consequently, the behaviour of deer and roe deer changes. They wander around more and do not feed in the same places all the time. This also has positive effects on forest rejuvenation.
Another issue is that human hunters take a shot animal out of the forest. This way no one else can profit from it. Whereas the wolf does not eat the whole prey at once. These dispersed carcasses are essential food sources for scavengers. Additionally, they offer necessary ecological niches for many organisms of the forest.

All major NGOs demand right to exist of the wolf in Germany

In the beginning of 2017, the WWF demanded a clear commitment of Germany’s government for the wolf’s right to exist. The organization stated that it is necessary to work on solutions. In particular for the substantial problems of the extensive pasture grazing in Germany.

The German nature conservation organization NABU thinks that the possible hunting of wolves cannot be a solution to wolf attacks. Their federal chairman Leif Miller said, that in most cases of attacks mistakes in the herd protection measures have been determined. He continues that it would be wrong to lead the farmers to believe that the shooting of a single wolf would help them. The rest of the pack is still out there and still won’t be afraid of the livestock.

Even the professional German Shepherd Associations does not demand the general killing of wolves but more investments into herd management measures to protect the livestock.

In Austria, the NaturschutzBund Austria with the support of the European Wilderness Society and WWF started a Petition for the Wolf to return.

It is of major importance to support and reinforce the farmers in protecting their livestock. For instance with special fences and herding dogs as well as with the financing of such measures as already effectively practiced in Brandenburg and in Graubünden Switzerland. 

The federal office for environmental protection and the federal documentation and counseling center of the wolf (DBBW) recently published data that proves that there are about 60 documented wolf-packs in Germany at the moment. That is 13 more than a year ago.


By Verena Gruber

 

Anderson: Wolves known to stalk hunter’s kill scene for an easy meal   Leave a comment

Wolves likely can readily associate the sound of gunfire with an easy meal in the form of the gut pile that remains after hunters field-dress their quarry, says a wolf expert.

NOVEMBER 30, 2017  SOURCE

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Wolves are likely to associated hunters’ gunfire with an easy meal.

Some years ago, I hunted in northern British Columbia. A young man was my guide, and during a long first day, we climbed into high, rugged country on horseback, trailing two pack horses.

The area was rife with moose, elk, wolves, and grizzlies. Headquartering in an abandoned trapper’s shack, we hunted all day, saddling the horses before sunup and riding out in the dark. At night we hobbled the horses’ front feet and turned them out to graze, stringing cowbells around their necks so we could find them in the morning, and to keep bears away.

One day we spotted a moose from a distant ridge. We rode a while toward the animal from downwind before tying the horses and hiking. The moose wasn’t a trophy, but was a legal target, bearing the required brow tines. When the big animal showed itself while ambling through tall willows, I braced my .270 against a tree and collapsed him.

Soon the guide and I convened alongside the moose.

“I’ll take care of this,” the young man said, pulling a knife from his pack. “You keep an eye out for wolves. If you see one coming, shoot it.”

We had heard wolves howling, but hadn’t seen any.

I said, “Are we expecting wolves?”

“They heard the shot,” the guide said. “So maybe.”

Wolves likely can readily associate the sound of gunfire with an easy meal in the form of the gut pile that remains after hunters field-dress their quarry, said wolf expert Dave Mech, a senior scientist with the Biological Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey and an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota.

“There are lots of examples where wolves learn to associate food with people,” Mech said. “They can connect these kinds of things very easily.”

This fall, the International Wolf Center in Ely alerted Minnesota whitetail hunters that they may encounter one or more of the state’s nearly 3,000 wolves “staring” at them in their deer stands.

“While hunters don’t intend to feed wolves by leaving the gut piles behind,” the center said, “that’s exactly what is happening. Obviously, some wolves have figured out that seeing a hunter (cause) may lead to finding a free meal (effect.)”

 Hunters’ use of deer scent might also attract wolves, the center said.

As deer hunting winds down, some wolves in the northern portions of Minnesota and Wisconsin are ending their own special seasons of gut-pile indulging.

In most instances, consumption of these remains by wolves occurred unbeknown to the hunters who killed and field-dressed their animals, then left the woods.

But some deer hunters this fall did encounter wolves up close and personal, including Steve Patterson, 26, of Minneapolis, who arrowed a 208-pound buck in northern Wisconsin on Nov. 11.

Patterson killed the nontypical 10-pointer in late afternoon in an area where wolf sightings are common, with images of the animals showing up frequently on hunters’ trail cameras.

Using headlamps, Patterson and a friend field-dressed the buck in the dark of early evening. As they did, they noticed two sets of what they believed were wolf eyes about 40 yards away. The observers gave no ground while waiting to move in on the remains.

Scott Wudinich of Eveleth had a similar encounter some years ago while hunting near Lake Vermilion in northeast Minnesota. He shot a small buck from his stand, and shortly afterward climbed down and field-dressed the animal, before returning to his stand.

He had ridden to the stand on a four-wheeler, and couldn’t legally operate the machine until after shooting hours. So he bided his time until nightfall.

Soon, “four or five” wolves appeared near Wudinich, running, followed by three more wolves to his left and another three to his right. “I was stunned,” he said in a Star Tribune story of the incident. “I yelled and screamed, but they pretty much ignored me. They paced back and forth. They wanted my deer and the gut pile.”

Wudinich fired his rifle several times in an attempt to scare away the wolves. But they remained about 50 yards from his stand. Uncertain what to do, he called the local conservation officer, who told him to leave the deer — which Wudinich did when he climbed onto his ATV at sunset and sped to his cabin about a mile away.

Later, he returned with a nephew to retrieve the deer. “The gut pile was mostly gone and they (the wolves) bit into the hindquarters and neck and chewed on an ear,” he said.

Because deer provide the bulk of a wolf’s diet, it’s no surprise hunters and wolves will occasionally bump into one another while seeking the same quarry, Mech said. Wolves average between 5 and 10 pounds of food intake a day, and individual wolves can gorge themselves on as much as 22 pounds of deer meat in a single sitting.

While wolves usually present no danger to people, they’re constantly on the move, hunting. And if a wolf doesn’t totally consume an available meal in one sitting, he (or she) might bury the remains.

“I can’t prove it, but I have circumstantial evidence that wolves will dig up food they buried as long as a year before,” Mech said.

Wolves might prefer a fresh gut pile left by deer hunters, but if necessary they’ll eat rotted flesh.

“Some years ago on Isle Royale, I saw a pack of wolves eat a moose in the spring that had died the fall before,” Mech said. “The moose was like jelly. But the wolves ate it.”

In British Columbia, we saw no wolves. Not while my guide field-dressed the moose. Nor while we rode to the trapper’s shack to gather the pack horses, or when we cached the moose’s quarters outside the shack.

But that night, as I lay in bed, I heard wolves howling, plenty of them — thankful, perhaps, for an easy meal


By Dennis Anderson – StarTribune

 

 

“Skyddsjakt” är en ren bortförklaring! Vargar är jakthundarnas minsta problem…   1 comment

Bloggade om ditt inlägg på wolvesonline.com
Hälsningar Carina E

Korpnästet

Så var det dags igen… Det är fullkomligt sanslöst! Varghatarna i riksdagen och på länstyrelserna har gjort det igen – tillåtit “skyddsjakt” på varg som bara beter sig naturligt och skyddar sitt revir mot inkräktande jakthundar (se tex. SR 2013-11-26).

Sveriges jägare utgör en liten minoritet av Sveriges befolkning – omkring 6 %. Då talar vi inte ens om officiella siffror, utan så att säga “inofficiella” – inklusive dem som inte jagar, officiellt… Många av dessa jägare bedriver något som kallas löshundsjakt, något som är helt förbjudet i de flesta andra länder. Löshundsjakt går i princip ut på att man släpper sin jakthund lös ute i skogen att antingen jaga och driva på viltet som förhoppningsvis förr eller senare hamnar i jägarnas skottfält, eller att hunden i annat fall “ställer” bytet och med sitt skall både håller bytet på plats samtidigt som jägaren tar sig till platsen i fråga för…

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Posted 28 October, 2017 by Wolf is my Soul in News/Nyheter

Upp till 60 procent av Norges vargar ska skjutas   Leave a comment

Oktober 25, 2017 Source

 

Vargar. Foto: Frida Hermansson

 

I Norge finns det ungefär 50 vargar, samt ytterligare 50 som har delade revir mellan Sverige och Norge. Nu har norska regeringen beslutat att upp till 24 vargar får skjutas i vinter och eventuellt även ytterligare 26 vargar som lever inne i den så kallade vargzonen där vargen tidigare varit skyddad, berättar SVT Värmland.

Vargzonen går längs med svenska gränsen i sydöstra Norge. Här har vargar varit fredade och det är enda stället i Norge där vargflockar med ungar är tillåtna. Kommer de utanför zonen skjuts de i licensjakt. I år kan det för första gången bli tillåtet att skjuta 24 vargar inne i zonen efter nyår. Redan nu är det dock klart att 26 vargar som befinner sig utanför zonen ska skjutas.

LÄS ÄVEN: • Kraftigt minskade levnadsytor för många av världens stora rovdjur

I fjol stoppade miljöministern Vidar Helgesen jakten på 32 vargar strax innan jul och det är ännu inte beslutat om det blir en utökad jakt i vinter. Det avgörs först strax innan nyår.

Det norska Stortinget har beslutat att det ska finnas ungefär 40-60 vargar i Norge.

Världsnaturfonden i Norge är kritiska till jakten och dess omfattning.
– Det är en väldigt omfattande jakt. Omkring 60 procent av den norska vargstammen ska skjutas. Det skulle vara katastrofalt. Den skandinaviska vargstammen är redan kritiskt hotad och väldigt genetiskt sårbar, säger Ingrid Lomelde, miljöpolitisk ledare på WWF Norge, till SVT Värmland.

LÄS ÄVEN: • Studier: Skyddsjakt på rovdjur skyddar inte boskap

Hon menar också att eftersom jakten sker på vargar som kan vandra in i Sverige och som mycket väl kan tillhöra svenska flockar så kan den norska jakten innebära att färre vargar skjuts i licensjakt i Sverige.

Över 700 får och lamm togs av vargar i områdena Hadeland, Toten och Hurdal i somras. Det ska motsvara en kostnad på 3,5 miljoner norska kronor enligt NRK.

Källor: NRKSVT Värmland och NRK


 

Wolf Puppies Are Adorable. Then Comes the Call of the Wild.   5 comments

October 13, 2017

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Scientists aren’t entirely sure how wolves evolved into dogs, but new research into the genetic and social behavior of wolf pups may offer some clues. By MAE RYAN, JAMES GORMAN and SHANE O’NEILL on Publish Date October 13, 2017. Photo by Renaud Philippe for The New York Times.  Watch in Times Video »

NICOLET, Quebec — I’m sitting in an outdoor pen with four puppies chewing my fingers, biting my hat and hair, peeing all over me in their excitement.

At eight weeks old, they are two feet from nose to tail and must weigh seven or eight pounds. They growl and snap over possession of a much-chewed piece of deer skin. They lick my face like I’m a long-lost friend, or a newfound toy. They are just like dogs, but not quite. They are wolves.

When they are full-grown at around 100 pounds, their jaws will be strong enough to crack moose bones. But because these wolves have been around humans since they were blind, deaf and unable to stand, they will still allow people to be near them, to do veterinary exams, to scratch them behind the ears — if all goes well.

Yet even the humans who raised them must take precautions. If one of the people who has bottle-fed and mothered the wolves practically since birth is injured or feels sick, she won’t enter their pen to prevent a predatory reaction. No one will run to make one of these wolves chase him for fun. No one will pretend to chase the wolf. Every experienced wolf caretaker will stay alert. Because if there’s one thing all wolf and dog specialists I’ve talked to over the years agree on, it is this: No matter how you raise a wolf, you can’t turn it into a dog.

As close as wolf and dog are — some scientists classify them as the same species — there are differences. Physically, wolves’ jaws are more powerful. They breed only once a year, not twice, as dogs do. And behaviorally, wolf handlers say, their predatory instincts are easily triggered compared to those of dogs. They are more independent and possessive of food or other items. Much research suggests they take more care of their young. And they never get close to that Labrador retriever “I-love-all-humans” level of friendliness. As much as popular dog trainers and pet food makers promote the inner wolf in our dogs, they are not the same.

The scientific consensus is that dogs evolved from some kind of extinct wolf 15,000 or more years ago. Most researchers now think that it wasn’t a case of snatching a pup from a den, but of some wolves spending more time around people to feed on the hunters’ leftovers. Gradually some of these wolves became less afraid of people, and they could get closer and eat more and have more puppies, which carried whatever DNA made the wolves less fearful. That repeated itself generation after generation until the wolves evolved to be, in non-scientific terms, friendly. Those were the first dogs.

People must spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for weeks on end with wolf puppies just to assure them that humans are tolerable. Dog puppies will quickly attach to any human within reach. Even street dogs that have had some contact with people at the right time may still be friendly.

Despite all the similarities, something is deeply different in dog genes, or in how and when those genes become active, and scientists are trying to determine exactly what it is.

Wolf pups at Wolf Park, a 65-acre zoo and research facility in Battle Ground, Ind., in July. Though wolves and dogs are extremely similar genetically, their behaviors are very different — and scientists seek to find out why.

There are clues.

Some recent research has suggested that dog friendliness may be the result of something similar to Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder in humans that causes hyper-sociability, among other symptoms. People with the syndrome seem friendly to everyone, without the usual limits.

Another idea being studied is whether a delay in development during a critical socializing period in a dog’s early life could make the difference. That delay might be discovered in the DNA, more likely in the sections that control when and how strongly genes become active, rather than in the genes themselves.

This is research at its very beginning, a long shot in some ways. But this past spring and summer, two scientists traveled to Quebec to monitor the development of six wolf pups, do behavior tests and take genetic samples. I followed them.

I visited other captive wolves as well, young and adult, to get a glimpse of how a research project begins — and, I confess, to get a chance to play with wolf puppies.

I wanted to have some firsthand experience of the animals I write about, to look wolves in the eye, so to speak. But only metaphorically. As I was emphatically told in a training session before going into an enclosure with adult wolves, the one thing you definitely do not do is look them in the eye.

From left, Kathryn Lord, Michele Koltookian and Diane Genereux, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, at the Zoo Académie, a combination zoo and training facility in Nicolet, Quebec

Wolf pups at play at Zoo Académie. Researchers wonder whether a delay in social development in a dog’s early life could explain the difference between wolves and dogs, and they’re looking to DNA for the answer.

Sleeping With Wolves

Zoo Académie is a combination zoo and training facility here on the southern bank of the St. Lawrence River, about two hours from Montreal. Jacinthe Bouchard, the owner, has trained domestic and wild animals, including wolves, all over the world.

This past spring she bred two litters of wolf pups from two female wolves and one male she had already at the zoo. Both mothers gave birth in the same den around the same time at the beginning of June. Then unusually bad flooding of the St. Lawrence threatened the den, so Ms. Bouchard had to remove them at about seven days old instead of the usual two weeks.

Then began the arduous process of socializing the pups. Ms. Bouchard and her assistant stayed day and night with the animals for the first few weeks, gradually decreasing the time spent with them after that.

On June 30, Kathryn Lord and Elinor Karlsson showed up with several colleagues, including Diane Genereux, a research scientist in Dr. Karlsson’s lab who would do most of the hands-on genetics work.

Dr. Lord is part of Dr. Karlsson’s team, which splits time between the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and the Broad Institute in Cambridge. Their work combines behavior and genetic studies of wolf and dog pups.

An evolutionary biologist, Dr. Lord is an old hand at wolf mothering. She has hand-raised five litters.

“You have to be with them 24/7. That means sleeping with them, feeding them every four hours on the bottle, ” Dr. Lord said.

Also, as Ms. Bouchard noted, “we don’t shower” in the early days, to let the pups get a clear sense of who they are smelling.

Dr. Genereux, right, and Ms. Koltookian at the Zoo Académie.

Dr. Genereux, right, and Ms. Koltookian with the wolf pups. The researchers say the odds of being able to pin down genetically the critical shift from helplessness in infancy to being able to explore the world around them are long, but still worth pursuing.

That’s very important, because both wolves and dogs go through a critical period as puppies when they explore the world and learn who their friends and family are.

With wolves, that time is thought to start at about two weeks, when the wolves are deaf and blind. Scent is everything.

In dogs, it starts at about four weeks, when they can see, smell and hear. Dr. Lord thinks this shift in development, allowing dogs to use all their senses, might be key to their greater ability to connect with human beings.

Perhaps with more senses in action, they are more able to generalize from tolerating individual humans with a specific scent to tolerating humans in general with a scent, sight and sound profile.

When the critical period ends, wolves, and to a lesser extent dogs, experience something like the onset of stranger anxiety in human babies, when people outside of the family suddenly become scary.

The odds of being able to pin down genetically the shift in this crucial stage are still long, but both Dr. Lord and Dr. Karlsson think the idea is worth pursuing, as did the Broad Institute. It provided a small grant from a program designed to support scientists who take leaps into the unknown — what you might call what-if research.

There are two questions the scientists want to explore. One, said Dr. Karlsson: ”How did a wolf that was living in the forest become a dog that was living in our homes?”

The other is whether fear and sociability in dogs are related to the same emotions and behaviors in humans. If so, learning about dogs could provide insights into some human conditions in which social interaction is affected, like autism, or Williams syndrome, or schizophrenia.

The pups at Zoo Académie were only three weeks old when the group of researchers arrived. I showed up the next morning and walked into a room strewn with mattresses, researchers and puppies.

The humans were still groggy from a night with little sleep. Pups at that age wake up every few hours to whine and paw any warm body within reach.

Wolf mothers prompt their pups to urinate and defecate by licking their abdomens. The human handlers massaged the pups for the same reason, but often the urination was unpredictable, so the main subject of conversation when I arrived was wolf pup pee. How much, on whom, from which puppy.

As soon as I walked in, I was handed a puppy to cradle and bottle-feed. The puppy was like a furry larva, persistent, single-minded, with an absolute intensity of purpose.

Even with fur, teeth and claws, the pups were still hungry and helpless, and I couldn’t help but remember holding my own children when they took a bottle. I suspect that tiger kittens and the young of wolverines are equally irresistible. It’s a mammal thing.

A wolf pup, inside a pen, observing a borzoi outside at the Zoo Académie. The critical exploratory phase for wolves is thought to start at about two weeks, when wolf pups are still deaf and blind — scent is their primary sense. With dogs, that period begins at about four weeks, when they can see, smell and hear.

The first part of Dr. Lord’s testing was to confirm her observations that the critical period for wolves starts and ends earlier than that for dogs.

She set up a procedure for testing the pups by exposing them to something they could not possibly have encountered before — a jiggly buzzing contraption of bird-scare rods, a tripod and a baby’s mobile.

Each week she tested one pup, so that no pup got used to it. She would put the puppy in a small arena, with low barriers for walls and with the mobile turned on. She would hide, to avoid distracting the puppy. Video cameras recorded the action, showing how the pups stumbled and later walked around the strange object, or shied away from it, or went right up to sniff it.

At three weeks, the pups had been barely able to get around and were still sleeping almost every minute they weren’t nursing. By eight weeks, when I returned to have them gambol all over me, they were rambunctious and fully capable of exploration.

The researchers won’t publicize the results until observers who never saw the puppies view and analyze the videos. But Dr. Lord said that wolf experts considered eight-week-old wolf puppies past the critical period. They were so friendly to me and others because they had been successfully socialized already.

Before and after the test, she collected urine, to measure levels of a hormone called cortisol, which rises during times of stress. If the pup in the video would not approach the jiggly monster and cortisol levels were high, that would indicate that the pup had begun to experience a level of fear of new things that could stop exploration. That would confirm the timing of the critical period.

Dr. Lord letting an eight-week-old wolf pup investigate the jiggly monster testing contraption she devised.

She and Dr. Karlsson and others from the lab also collected saliva for DNA testing. They planned to use a new technique called ATAC-seq that uses an enzyme to mark active genes. Then when the wolf DNA is fed into one of the advanced machines that map genomes, only the active genes would be on the map.

Dr. Genereux, who was isolating and then reading DNA, said she thought it was “a long shot” that they would find what they wanted. She and the other researchers plan to refine their techniques to ask the questions successfully.

When They Grow Up

And what are socialized wolves like when they grow up, once the mysterious genetic machinery of the dog and wolf direct them on their separate ways?

I also visited Wolf Park, in Battle Ground, Ind., a 65-acre zoo and research facility where Dana Drenzek, the manager, and Pat Goodmann, the senior animal curator, took me around and introduced me not only to puppies they were socializing, but to some adult wolves.

Timber, a mother of some of the pups at Wolf Park in Indiana.

In the 1970s, Ms. Goodmann worked with Erich Klinghammer, the founder of Wolf Park, to develop the 24/7 model for socializing wolf puppies, exposing them to humans and then also to other wolves, so they could relate to their own kind but accept the presence and attention of humans, even intrusive ones like veterinarians.

The sprawling outdoor baby pen was filled with cots and hammocks for the volunteers, since the wolves were now nine and 11 weeks old and living outdoors all the time. There were plastic and plywood hiding places for the wolves and plenty of toys. It looked like a toddlers’ playground, except for the remnants of their meals — the odd deer clavicle or shin bone, and other assorted ribs, legs and shoulder bones, sometimes with skin and meat still attached.

The puppies were extremely friendly with the volunteers they knew and mildly friendly with me. The adult wolves I met were also courteous, but remote. Two older males, Wotan and Wolfgang, each licked me once and walked away. Timber, the mother of some of the pups, and tiny at 50 pounds, also investigated me and then retired to a platform nearby.

Only Renki, an older wolf who had suffered from bone cancer and now got around on three legs, let me scratch his head for a while. None was bothered by my presence. None was more than mildly interested. None seemed to realize or care about my own intense desire to see the wolves, be near them, learn about them, touch them.

Pat Goodmann, the senior animal curator at Wolf Park.

A mobile of animal bones hangs over the nursery where pups at Wolf Park live until aged 5-6 weeks.

I saw how powerfully a visit with wolves could affect how you feel about the animals. I wanted to come back and help raise pups, and keep visiting so that I could say an adult wolf knew me in some way.

But I also wondered whether it was right to keep wolves in this setting. In the wild, they travel large distances and kill their food. These wolves were all bred in captivity and that was never a possibility for them.

But was I simply indulging a fantasy of getting close to nature? Was this in the same category as wanting a selfie with a captive tiger? What was best for the wolves themselves?

I asked Ms. Goodmann about it. She said that park operated on the idea that getting to know the park’s wolves, which had never been deprived of an earlier life in the wild, would make visitors care more for wild wolves, for conservation, for preserving a life for wild carnivores that they could never be part of.

And she noted that Wolf Park operates as a combination zoo and research station. Students and others from around the world compete to work as interns, helping with everything from raising puppies to emptying the fly traps.

This is the rationale for all zoos, and it was a strong argument. Then she made it stronger. She pointed out that one of the interns, Doug Smith, worked on the reintroduction of wild wolves to Yellowstone National Park.

Dana Drenzek, manager of Wolf Park, with a pup.

Haley Gorenflo, a volunteer at Wolf Park, howling with adolescent wolves.

Dr. Smith has had a major role in the Wolf Restoration Project from the very beginning in 1995 and has been project leader since 1997. I reached him one morning at his office at park headquarters and asked him about his time as an intern at Wolf Park.

“I hand-reared four wolf pups, sleeping with them on a mattress for six weeks,” he said. “It had a profound effect. It was the first wolf job I ever got in my life. It turned into my career.”

From there he went on to study wild wolves on Isle Royale in Michigan, and then to work with L. David Mech, a pioneering wolf biologist who is a senior scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey and an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota. Eventually, he went to Yellowstone to work on restoring wolves to the park.

He said ethical questions about keeping wild animals in captivity are difficult, even when every effort is made to enrich their lives. But places like Wolf Park provide great value, he said, if they can get people “to think about the plight of wolves across the world, and do something about it.”

In today’s environment, “with conservation on the run, nature on the run, you need them,” he added.

Then he said what all wolf specialists say: That even though wolf pups look like dogs, they are not, that keeping a wolf or a wolf-dog hybrid as a pet is a terrible idea.

“If you want a wolf,” he said, “get a dog.”

Dozing at Zoo Académie in Quebec.

 

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Posted 22 October, 2017 by Wolf is my Soul in News/Nyheter

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