Her battle with cancer ended peacefully on Tuesday

Contact:
Chad Richardson, administrator
International Wolf Center
Office: 763-233-7132
Cell: 651-214-4989
chad@wolf.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Luna, an ambassador wolf at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, was euthanized Tuesday, Nov. 26.

The 7-year-old wolf had undergone surgery in March 2019 to remove a mass on her left neck area. The biopsy report at that time was inconclusive, but the return of the growth in July led to a second biopsy with a diagnosis of an aggressive spindle cell sarcoma. The July surgery revealed several deep masses embedded in the muscle behind her shoulder blade. Extracting those masses was not advised by the Center’s trusted and longtime veterinarians. Staff prepared to manage Luna to the best quality of life possible despite the terminal diagnosis.

Wolf Care staff closely monitored her and watched in awe as Luna continued to be an active member of the retirement pack at the Center. When Wolf Care staff assessed Luna on Tuesday, she had a good appetite and took her medication, but the mass had begun to rupture, and her pain response was significantly increased. The decision was made to euthanize her based on a recommendation from the veterinarian in Ely.

“When the Center adopted Luna, she had some underlying health conditions that resulted in surgical intervention to provide a plate for a fractured femur,” said the Center’s wolf curator, Lori Schmidt. “At the time, surgeons didn’t think she would make it, but she proved them wrong. She was resilient and showed us the tenacity of wildlife that leads to animals’ survival in the natural world.”

Luna joined the Center’s pack in 2012. She was representative of the Great Plains subspecies of wolves and is a black color phase, believed to be found in less than 5 percent of the population in Minnesota. She and her packmates at the Center have educated tens of thousands of visitors at the Center’s exhibit in Ely, and thousands more around the world through regular YouTube videos, wolf logs and webcams.

In an effort to learn more about Luna’s condition, she was transported to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostics Lab for a necropsy. Those results will further educate staff as the Center continues to manage the five remaining wolves at the Center’s facility in Ely.

When she was in the exhibit pack between 2012-2016, she was known for displays of dominance, intense possession and assertive behavior. That intensity was heightened during weekly feedings and further increased when the 2016 pups were adopted. These behaviors proved too challenging for the new pups, so Luna was moved into the retirement enclosure in 2016. Initially, staff thought her behaviors were personality driven, but when she was moved her into the retirement enclosure, she became calm and rarely showed the snapping defensive dominance that she had in the main pack. After more research and consultation with specialists, staff believed that her behavior was likely a proactive move to defend herself and her vulnerable condition.

Luna was welcoming of the staff’s individual attention, especially after staff received advanced training on body work techniques that made her more active and improved her physical activity.

“This is an incredibly sad day at the International Wolf Center,” said Chad Richardson, the Center’s administrator. “We know that many of our members closely followed Luna over the years. When her cancer diagnosis was confirmed, we heard from many of those members and followers who were so saddened to get the news. To all of you: Thank you for your kind words about Luna. They’re all being shared with our Wolf Care staff who, as you could imagine, have taken this news especially hard.”

The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. For more information about the International Wolf Center, visit wolf.org.

Grant Spickelmier will join the pack in January

Contact:
Chad Richardson, communications director
International Wolf Center
Office: 763-560-7374, ext. 225
chad@wolf.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – With 25 years of experience in wildlife education and zoo leadership in Minnesota and Oregon, Grant Spickelmier will take the helm of the International Wolf Center as executive director in mid-January.

Spickelmier comes from Oregon Zoo in Portland after eight years where he was curator of conservation learning, and previously from the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley where he served in multiple roles, including assistant director of education.

“Grant brings the skills and experience the Center needs to help spark public awareness and dialogue based on powerful science-based wolf education,” said Center Board Chair Nancy jo Tubbs. He’ll lead a staff of about 16 at the interpretive center in Ely,MN and the organization’s Minneapolis office, where he will be based.

“I’m honored to be chosen to lead the world’s pre-eminent wolf organization,” Spickelmier said. “Since I first heard a wolf howl in northern Minnesota, I’ve been hooked on helping this species recover in the United States. At the Minnesota Zoo, I created programs about wolves for kids and adults. I led travel programs in Alaska and with the International Wolf Center in Minnesota.”

Spickelmier’s work has focused on fundraising, strategic planning, partnerships, exhibit development, and management of large teams of staff and volunteers. He co-wrote the WolfQuest internet game used at the Center, and it is considered the premier wolf simulation game with 900,000 online players.

“I hope to continue building the Center’s leadership team successfully led by Administrator Chad Richardson in recent months, as we work to increase public understanding of how wolves and humans can successfully coexist,” Spickelmier said.

He was chosen by the Center’s board in partnership with a Minneapolis-based firm, CohenTaylor Executive Search, which conducted an extensive national search.

The International Wolf Center, founded in 1985, is known worldwide as the premier source for wolf information and education. The mission of the Center is to advance the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. The Center educates through its website, its ambassador wolves, museum exhibits, educational outreach programs, International Wolf magazine, and a beautiful interpretive center in Ely, Minnesota.

Grant Spickelmier will join the pack in January

Contact:

Chad Richardson, administrator
International Wolf Center
Office: 763-233-7132
chad@wolf.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – With 25 years of experience in wildlife education and zoo leadership in Minnesota and Oregon, Grant Spickelmier will take the helm of the International Wolf Center as executive director in mid-January.

Spickelmier comes from Oregon Zoo in Portland after eight years where he was curator of conservation learning, and previously from the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley where he served in multiple roles, including assistant director of education.

“Grant brings the skills and experience the Center needs to help spark public awareness and dialogue based on powerful science-based wolf education,” said Center Board Chair Nancy jo Tubbs. He’ll lead a staff of about 16 at the interpretive center in Ely,MN and the organization’s Minneapolis office, where he will be based.

“I’m honored to be chosen to lead the world’s pre-eminent wolf organization,” Spickelmier said. “Since I first heard a wolf howl in northern Minnesota, I’ve been hooked on helping this species recover in the United States. At the Minnesota Zoo, I created programs about wolves for kids and adults. I led travel programs in Alaska and with the International Wolf Center in Minnesota.”

Spickelmier’s work has focused on fundraising, strategic planning, partnerships, exhibit development, and management of large teams of staff and volunteers. He co-wrote the WolfQuest internet game used at the Center, and it is considered the premier wolf simulation game with 900,000 online players.

“I hope to continue building the Center’s leadership team successfully led by Administrator Chad Richardson in recent months, as we work to increase public understanding of how wolves and humans can successfully coexist,” Spickelmier said.

He was chosen by the Center’s board in partnership with a Minneapolis-based firm, CohenTaylor Executive Search, which conducted an extensive national search.

The International Wolf Center, founded in 1985, is known worldwide as the premier source for wolf information and education. The mission of the Center is to advance the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. The Center educates through its website, its ambassador wolves, museum exhibits, educational outreach programs, International Wolf magazine, and a beautiful interpretive center in Ely, Minnesota.

Contact:

Chad Richardson, communications director
International Wolf Center
Office: 763-560-7374, ext. 225
chad@wolf.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Cameras and signs will soon be posted along the Trezona Trail in Ely to warn users of the trail about recent wolf encounters in the area. On Thursday, Aug. 15, a dog out for a run with its owner was attacked by a wolf at about 8:30 p.m. A report was made to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by the dog’s owner, detailing his encounter with the wolf near the Shagawa Lake boat landing.

“As I was running, I heard a yelp from my dog behind me,” Ely resident Ted Schlosser said. “I turned around and saw that a wolf had him down on the ground. I screamed extremely loudly at it and it took off running with my dog into the woods. I immediately started chasing after him and screaming as loudly as I could. I had gotten into the woods about a hundred feet and my dog was free. The wolf was still standing there about twenty feet away. I took my dog out of the woods immediately. I was still about three-quarters of a mile from my pickup, so I proceeded to walk back to it. I had my other three dogs with me as well (all small dogs). After walking a few hundred yards, the wolf ran up to us again. He came close to the edge of the trail (about 50 feet away from us). I screamed at him again. We continued walking. A few hundred more feet, and he ran up to the edge of the trail again. I grabbed a large stick to carry and I yelled at him again. He started barking at me. He continued barking for quite a while and had a high tail posture.”

Lori Schmidt, the International Wolf Center wolf curator in Ely, manages the wolf helpline, a resource for local residents to report wolf issues and receive advice and consultations with local wildlife management agencies such as the DNR and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services office located in Grand Rapids.

“As a wolf curator with over 33 years of wolf behavioral experience, I know that barks are a threat display, and a high tail means the animal is confident, and it may indicate aggressive arousal,” Schmidt said. “Wolves with low, tucked tails are more fearful and may be easier to deter. This animal may be food conditioned towards people. If anyone has issues with wolves on the Trezona or anywhere in the Ely area, contact the Wolf Helpline at 365-4695 ext. 134. If you have a concern of an imminent threat, calls should be made to the local conservation officer or 911.”

The dog was treated at the Ely vet clinic with a single wound on his right shoulder.

Schmidt will coordinate with Vermilion Community College’s Wildlife Society Chapter to deploy wildlife cameras and signs, identify the patterns of wolf presence and attempt to deploy negative conditioning techniques to deter the wolf from the area. The fall season can be particularly problematic for wolf issues as the presence of pups in a pack can create a lot of food pressure. This may leave some younger animals to go hungry, scavenge or disperse and become loners in search of another wolf and a new territory. Wolf pups are very mobile this time of the year, so if this wolf is associated with a pack and pups, the chances are they will move on relatively quickly.

It is important that human-related food supplies such as garbage, dog food, even remnants of bird or deer feeders are removed, as they can serve as an attractant for wolves.

The Voyageur National Park wolf project recently posted a notice on its Facebook page about a yearling male wolf that was collared on May 23 as a 60-pound yearling with adequate fat reserves, but died of starvation on Aug. 9 weighing 31 pounds. Other times of the year when wolf-human interactions can be more intense are during the winter breeding season, January to March and the pup denning season, April to May.

Effective Dec. 19, 2014, Minnesotans can no longer legally kill a wolf except in the defense of human life, and wolves are a federally protected species managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The wolf is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, which does allow for control measures from the USDA Wildlife Services program. In the case of the Trezona Trail, the area has a high concentration of human use and would not be conducive to trapping wolves and the USDA abides by depredation management zones, with the Trezona Trail area being north of the line for removal for domestic livestock depredation.

Wolf attacks on humans are extremely rare, and we know of no such attacks in the Superior National Forest even though wolves have never been been exterminated there. Minnesota DNR Large Carnivore Specialist, Dan Stark, offers recommendations to deal with wolf issues.

Dog Safety

  • People with pets should avoid area until time passes or no additional wolf observations/incidents occur
  • Keep dogs on leash, so wolves are less likely to approach people
  • Don’t allow dogs to run loose or range away, keep in close contact and control
  • Don’t try to intervene if dog is actively being attacked
  • Carry bear/pepper spray – It can be used to deter attack or spray both if wolf is actively attacking dog. The dog will need some recovery time, but the effects of bear spray are temporary and non-lethal

People

  • Don’t run, but act aggressively, stepping toward the wolf and yelling or clapping your hands if it tries to approach.
  • Do not turn your back toward an aggressive wolf, but continue to stare directly at it. If you are with a companion and more than one wolf is present place yourselves back to back and slowly move away from the wolves. Retreat slowly while facing the wolf and act aggressively.
  • Stand your ground if a wolf attacks you and fight with any means possible (use sticks, rocks, ski poles, fishing rods or whatever you can find).
  • Use air horns or other noise makers.
  • Use bear spray
  • Climb a tree if necessary

Minnesota’s most recent wolf population estimate within Minnesota’s wolf range was 2,655 wolves and 465 wolf packs during the winter of 2017-2018. The estimate is statistically unchanged from the previous winter, according to the Minnesota DNR. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a rule in March 2019 that proposes the delisting of gray wolves from threatened or endangered status under the Endangered Species Act in the contiguous United States.

The International Wolf Center will continue to provide information as this delisting process progresses.

The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. For more information about the International Wolf Center, visit wolf.org.

Possible rupture of mast cell tumors is likely the main cause.

Contact:
Chad Richardson, communications director
International Wolf Center
Office: 763-560-7374, ext. 225
chad@wolf.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Aidan, an 11-year-old ambassador wolf at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, died on Wednesday August 14th. He was the longtime pack leader at the Center, earning the role in 2011.

Aidan had been taken to the Ely Veterinary Clinic the day before for a medical exam and surgical removal of a mast cell tumor on his neck. The removal of this single mass was a success, but further diagnostic tests were done to understand the depth of his condition. He was recovering from the surgery, but he died the following morning.  Wolf Curator, Lori Schmidt noted, “His last morning was spent with two core wolf care staff and very calm social interactions. His level of trust and social bonding with the staff was there until the end.”

This was not Aidan’s first bout with these tumors. He had two surgeries in 2017 and one in February of 2019 to remove tumors. Immune suppressants were used to slow the growth of these mast cells, but in the end weren’t enough to keep the tumors from growing.

Aidan joined the Center’s pack in 2008 with his littermate Denali, both Rocky Mountain subspecies of wolves.  Aidan was moved into the retirement enclosure in the summer of 2018.

He and his packmates have educated tens of thousands of visitors at the Center’s exhibit in Ely, as well as thousands of people throughout the world through regular YouTube videos, wolf logs and webcams.

In an effort to learn more about Aidan’s condition, he was transported to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostics Lab for a necropsy. Those results will further educate staff as the Center continues to manage the remaining wolves at the Center’s facility in Ely.

“This news hits us all especially hard,” said Chad Richardson, the Center’s administrator. “Aidan’s prior six years as the pack leader taught us staff members and the public so much about pack leaders and their important role. We were able to watch him take on the leadership position and then looked on in awe and sadness when his fellow pack members began testing him in 2017 and 2018. Moving him to retirement was the right decision, but none of us were ready to see him pass away within a year of that move.

“Our Wolf Care staff did everything they could to make his time in retirement as comfortable as possible. Our staff tried every possible treatment that our veterinarian suggested. Sadly, nothing worked.

The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. For more information about the International Wolf Center, visit wolf.org.

Wolves at Our Door goes to states with rebounding wolf numbers

Contact:
Chad Richardson, communications director
International Wolf Center
Office: 763-560-7374, ext. 225
chad@wolf.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Wolves have undeniably begun to reclaim portions of their historic range in the western United States. As their numbers in the western U.S. quickly grew after being reintroduced at Yellowstone National Park 24 years ago, education about these predators hasn’t always kept pace. The International Wolf Center is reaching out to help.

Without question, a great many organizations based in the western United States have worked to educate the public about wolves. But this problem is greater than any one organization can solve, so the International Wolf Center is expanding its popular Wolves at Our Door program to those western states.

The program educates more than 15,000 students in Minnesota every year. Now, the Center is teaching partnering organizations how to launch the program and share it with schools in their states. Two training sessions have been held with these organizations, including one in Ely, Minnesota, and Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, from June 10-13.

During that session, representatives from the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in Oregon and Museum and the Sequoia Park Zoo in California were flown to Minneapolis and then driven by the Center to Ely. Over the next three days, those representatives got a full wolf education by retired Wisconsin wolf biologist Dick Thiel, as well as background on the program by the Center’s Outreach Director, Misi Stine. The group returned to the Twin Cities for further education with renowned wolf biologist Dr. Dave Mech, who founded the Center in 1985.

“There’s no question that many of those who live in the western United States have strong opinions about wolves,” said Chad Richardson, the Center’s Administrator. “For some, those opinions aren’t formed from facts but rather are formed from myths and fears. We’re trying to change that with these programs, which are based wholly on science.”

The Center has a unique aim, which is focused on advancing wolf populations by teaching the world about wolves. It presents many sides to the wolf debate during its Wolves at Our Door program and encourages attendees to make up their own minds about wolves, only after hearing the science-based facts.

“As I’ve traveled around Minnesota to present these programs, I’ve found two sources of misunderstanding,” said Stine, the Center’s Outreach Director. “When I speak to school children, their only exposure to wolves has typically been through fairy tales. When I speak to adults, many have formed their opinions based on what they heard in a 20-second newscast or through an exaggerated report on the evening news. So many people just don’t have the facts to support their strong opinions. Hopefully we can continue to fix that.”

Future training sessions are being planned by Stine involving organizations in the western United States.

The Western Wolves at Our Door project is funded with two grants, including one from The Margaret A. Cargill Fund at the Minnesota Community Foundation.

The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. For more information about the International Wolf Center, visit wolf.org

Event will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Ely

 

Contact:
Chad Richardson, communications director
International Wolf Center
Office: 763-560-7374, ext. 2250
chad@wolf.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – The grand opening for the exciting new exhibit at the International Wolf Center is set from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 28, in Ely. The event is free, and the public is invited to come experience the immersive exhibit, titled Discover Wolves!. After a brief welcoming ceremony, the Center’s doors will open to the family-friendly adventure that features wolf howls, northern lights and a simulated airplane ride.

“As the first visitors explored exhibit, it was thrilling to see the smiles on their face,” said Krista Harrington, the interpretive center manager. “The new exhibit brings a creative spark to an educational adventure in the world of the wolf.”

Discover Wolves! was funded in part with a grant from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, plus a major commitment from the board of directors at the Center and its donors.

“Planning for the project started four years ago, so to see the wolf den, the science lab and artifacts in place was a magical experience,” said the board’s Chairperson, Nancy jo Tubbs. “It’s more fun than I could have imagined.”

A stunning photo mural leads visitors down a ramp and into the new exhibit space. The mosaic, which looks from afar like a wolf resting, is made up of thousands of small images. The closer one gets, the less like a wolf the mural looks, as individual images reveal themselves. Once you step back, those individual images fade and the bigger picture of the wolf is again visible.

Just inside the new exhibit hall, a wolf den is built into a rocky cave. Visitors are able to step up to the den and look inside to see video footage of real wolves in a real den.

In another display, the distance covered by a wolf on a given day is highlighted on a map of the northern United States. The distance, 30 miles, is but a small track across the vast north country. That illuminated track grows considerably when visitors press the second button, showing how far a wolf can travel in a month (600 miles). The third and final track shows what 3,000 miles looks like on a map of North America—the distance wolves can travel in a year. The display also notes wolves sometimes travel much farther, up to 8,000 miles a year, if prey is scarce.

Nearby, a simulated airplane gives visitors a chance to see how researchers track wolves from the air. Once a guest takes a seat in the cockpit and pushes a button, the adventure begins. Four screens encircle the guest, making it appear as though he or she is in the cockpit of a small airplane. The plan takes off from an ice-covered lake in Ely with Shannon Barber-Meyer riding in the front seat next to the pilot. Barber-Meyer, a wolf biologist with the United States Geological Survey, explains how she uses radio telemetry to track wolves in the wild. Near the end of the adventure, Barber-Meyer and the visitor successfully find the wild pack.

Historic artifacts aim to show how important wolves were to various cultures over time. Included in the display is a stunning hand-beaded mask in the shape of a wolf’s head. The mask was donated to the Center’s founder, Dr. L. David Mech, who in turn donated it to the Center for display.

As visitors leave the exhibit, they’re encouraged to take a quick 10-question quiz about wolves to see how much they learned from the discovery adventure.

The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. For more information about the International Wolf Center, visit wolf.org.

Hastings resident named to new role while the Center searches for its new executive director

Contact:

Chad Richardson, communications director
International Wolf Center
Office: 763-560-7374, ext. 225
chad@wolf.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – The International Wolf Center’s board of directors voted recently to name Chad Richardson the organization’s administrator while it searches for a new executive director.

Richardson came to the Center two years ago as its communications director.

“Since Chad started at the Center, he’s shown us he can be counted on and that he cares about sustaining strong relationships with the community and with staff and board members,” said Nancy jo Tubbs, chairperson of the Center’s board of directors. “Chad has exceeded our expectations as our communications manager. We’re certain he will guide us smoothly through the next several months in both roles.”

Richardson works primarily out of the organization’s administrative office in Brooklyn Park. He’s also frequently at the interpretive center in Ely.

“I am both humbled and honored to be given this amazing opportunity and this daunting responsibility,” Richardson said. “I know this summer and fall will be truly challenging, but with the great group of co-workers and volunteers that I’ve inherited, I know we will get the job done.”

Prior to joining the staff at the Center, he was the news director for nine newspapers in the southeast Twin Cities and western Wisconsin.

Richardson lives in Hastings with his wife, Lisandra, and two children, Gabriel and Luciana. He is a native of Aberdeen, S.D., and a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead.

The Center’s executive director, Rob Schultz, resigned in May. A nationwide search for his replacement is underway.

The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. For more information about the International Wolf Center, visit wolf.org.

Contact:
Chad Richardson, communications director
International Wolf Center
Office: 763-560-7374, ext. 2250
chad@wolf.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Visitors to the International Wolf Center in Ely will now get even more wolf education for their money. Starting this week, all admission tickets are valid for three consecutive days.

“It is our hope that this change will benefit visitors to Ely who will now be able to get a weekend-plus of wolf watching for the price of just one day,” said Chad Richardson, the Center’s administrator. “Changes like these will keep tourists in Ely longer, which has the potential to benefit the local economy.”

Visitors will receive a non-transferable wristband when they check in at the Center, and those wristbands will serve as their admission ticket for three consecutive days.

The change is being rolled out at the same time as the Center’s immersive new exhibit, Discover Wolves!, opens to the public this summer.

“We’re excited to give our visitors more value with their admission ticket and, at the same time, an even more entertaining experience at the Center,” Richardson said. “We’re hearing very positive reviews from people who have explored the new exhibit, with its howling room and research fly-over experience.”

The Center had adopted a second day of free admission in recent years, and that proved to be popular with visitors. The policy allowed visitors the opportunity to come back to see a unique daily program they may have missed, or to get a second chance to observe the behavior of the ambassador wolves. The popularity of the second day of admission prompted the Center to consider including a third day, which was recently approved by the Center’s board of directors.

Regular admission fees are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and $8 for children ages 4-12. Members are free. For more information, visit wolf.org.

The International Wolf Center, founded in 1985, is known worldwide as the premier source for wolf information and education. The mission of the Center is to advance the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. The Center educates through its website, its ambassador wolves, museum exhibits, educational outreach programs, International Wolf magazine, and a beautiful interpretive center in Ely, Minnesota.

Stutrud to be honored at 2019 Howl at the Moon Gala on April 11

Contact:
Chad Richardson
Communications Director
International Wolf Center
763-560-7374, ext. 225
chad@wolf.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – These days, it seems like a new brewery is opening in Minnesota on a weekly basis. In the mid 1980s, though, there wasn’t a craft beer scene, there were no taprooms and nobody had even heard of a growler.

Despite that, Mark Stutrud wanted to change careers, going from a social worker to a brewer. He wrote the nationwide brewer’s association about his idea and, to his surprise, they discouraged him from launching a brewery. He wouldn’t make it in the business, they said.

Stutrud ignored their advice and, in September 1986, the first kegs rolled off the line at Summit Brewing Co. and into Twin Cities bars. Since then, the Minnesota institution has kept growing. Summit is the state’s second-biggest brewery.

This pioneering spirit and dedication to his craft led to the International Wolf Center to name Stutrud as its 2019 Leader of the Pack Award winner. Stutrud will be given the award and honored at the Howl at the Moon Gala on Thursday, April 11, at Midland Hills Country Club.

“I’m very honored,” Stutrud said. “Absolutely surprised and very honored. The International Wolf Center, I know, is very focused on education. Wolves are an example of how absolutely complex our ecosystems are. When organizations like the International Wolf Center can provide education on the earth and all of its inhabitants, that’s a very important function.”

The Center’s Executive Director, Rob Schultz, said Stutrud was nominated by a member of the gala committee and was quickly endorsed.

“Mark’s brave decision to open a brewery, against the advice of several people, shows he’s a man of firm convictions and a decisive leader,” Schultz said. “Those are traits we love to honor with this award. We’re thrilled he will be the recipient of this award at our upcoming gala.”

Tickets for the gala are available by visiting this link.

Stutrud will be joined at the gala by his wife, Susan, and several members of Summit’s leadership team. For many years, Summit has given back to food banks, art museums, music causes and numerous charitable fundraisers and events.

“A part of our longevity is connected to the fact that we’re very engaged in the Twin Cities community,” said Stutrud. “We’ve been deeply supportive of a number of causes through the years. That also really helps us to be a consistent part of the fabric of the community.

More about the brewery

When Summit opened, Stutrud did so with a wealth of brewing knowledge in his back pocket. He received professional training from brewing legends Charles A. McElevey and Frederick H. Thomasser. He completed the courses of Brewing Theory and Practice and Brewing Microbiology and Microscopy at the Siebel Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois. In July of 1991, Stutrud was awarded the J.E. Siebel Memorial Scholarship and received his Diploma in Brewing Technology from the Siebel Institute. That technical background meant that Stutrud had the necessary tools to produce consistently great beer.

“I think our longevity has to do with the fact that we were technically sound when we introduced Extra Pale Ale and, a few months after that, Great Northern Porter,” he said. “We knew that we had to understand the industry and the different tiers of business within the brewing industry, as well as being very good technically.”

Summit, the first Minnesota brewery built in Minnesota since the repeal of Prohibition, laid the framework for others to follow. And follow they have. There are now approximately 180 breweries operating in Minnesota.

“We were sodbusters,” Stutrud said. “That’s not easy work. You’re turning over that virgin soil and it allows other people behind you to cultivate a little more easy. That’s been a part of our role.”

The International Wolf Center, founded in 1985, is known worldwide as the premier source for wolf information and education. The mission of the Center is to advance the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. The Center educates through its website, its ambassador wolves, museum exhibits, educational outreach programs, International Wolf magazine, and a beautiful interpretive center in Ely, Minnesota.