Prognosis isn’t yet clear for Boltz, an 8-year-old gray wolf

Chad Richardson, Communications Director
International Wolf Center
Office: 763-233-7132

Additional photos available on request

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Once the doors closed at the Ely Bloomenson Community Hospital MRI unit on Sept. 15, a special patient was wheeled into place for a unique MRI. This patient was a wolf.

For the first time in the history of the International Wolf Center and the first time at the hospital, an ambassador wolf from the Center was given an MRI. The procedure was done to help identify some lingering health issues that are negatively impacting Boltz, an 8-year-old gray wolf.

“We’re so thankful that the Ely Bloomenson Community Hospital worked with us on this really unusual request,” said the Center’s wolf curator, Lori Schmidt. “It is not uncommon for us to have x-rays taken at the Ely Veterinary Clinic, but an MRI is not available there. This contribution to helping diagnose Boltz was critical.”

The MRI came about thanks to an initial phone call from Dr. Woerheide from the Ely Veterinary Clinic, followed by hours of logistical details on how to keep a wolf safely sedated for the duration of the procedure.

“She made the call to the hospital and was able to coax them into seeing what a benefit this could be for all the parties involved,” said Krista Harrington, the Interpretive Center Manager. “The closest animal MRI is in the Twin Cities, so we could not have done it without her and the Ely hospital.”

The hospital said it is proud of its contribution.

“While certainly an unusual request for a different kind of patient, we were excited, challenged and blessed by the opportunity to help with Boltz’ diagnosis and eventual care plan,” said EBCH’s Diagnostic Imaging Team Leader, Victor Aime. “I had two planning meetings with Dr. Woerheide to consider the challenges of an MRI on a sedated wolf. The meetings paid off with a flawless experience. It couldn’t have gone better! Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital is proud to have been a participant in this collaborative effort with the International Wolf Center and Ely Veterinary Clinic for the benefit of Boltz.”

Dr. Woerheide figured she had nothing to lose in asking the hospital.

“It didn’t hurt to ask,” Woerheide said. “We thought they were probably going to say, ‘No, we don’t want a wolf in our very expensive machine,’ but Victor was open to helping out. I met with him in person and we talked it all through. We just made a plan and made it happen.”

Staff at the International Wolf Center were able to get Boltz sedated during the day and then transported him to the hospital in a crate. Woerheide was in the back of the truck monitoring Boltz on the short drive to the hospital. When they all arrived, he was loaded onto a lift and taken into the MRI trailer.

Everything inside took about 90 minutes. During the MRI, hospital staff carefully studied what was showing up on their monitors. It’s safe to say that these results looked much different than what they normally see.

“The staff was comparing the anatomy of wolves to people and asking a lot of questions,” Harrington said. “They were asking things like ‘How many lumbar vertebrae do wolves have? What were the presenting symptoms?’

“They explained a lot of what we were seeing on the scans as they happened — where the spinal cord was, the various parts of the brain, the sagittal crest, the jaw and other skull and spine features.”

Once hospital staff were finished with the MRI, the images were burned onto a disc. Those images were emailed to the University of Minnesota Neurology Department, which conferred with Dr. Woerheide on the results. Nothing conclusive has been found yet, so additional tests are being done to get a diagnosis for Boltz.

“Wolf care staff are closely monitoring Boltz with the aid of onsite surveillance equipment and daily review of video to assess his response to treatment, Schmidt said. “We are hopeful we’ll have a conclusive diagnosis and prognosis soon.”

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

North American Bear Center, Dorothy Molter Museum and International Wolf Center are back open, albeit with some changes



Three of Ely’s biggest tourist attractions are open to the public after temporarily closing because of the pandemic. The Dorothy Molter Museum, the International Wolf Center and the North American Bear Center have all opened their doors.

Each organization has needed to make adjustments to its daily schedule, of course. Each facility has instituted new cleaning protocols, some also require masks and advance ticket purchases.

After all the changes, though, the experience within each facility is just as memorable as always.

Scott Edgett, the Senior Director of Operations at the bear center, said the response from the public has been incredibly positive so far.

“There have been a lot of changes behind the scenes, but we’re hearing from our visitors that the experience here isn’t diminished at all,” he said. “I’m so proud of the staff here that’s managed to adapt to this new normal.”

At the International Wolf Center and the Dorothy Molter Museum, a new online ticketing system will help ensure there aren’t too many visitors at any one time. The system also makes it possible for visitors to be guaranteed entry after they purchase those advance tickets.

“Moving to the online ticketing system is going to be the biggest adjustment for our visitors,” said Dorothy Molter Museum Executive Director Jess Edberg. “Since we have to limit our capacity to comply with the governor’s orders, this system should help visitors rest easy knowing that they will be able to get in as long as they purchase those advance tickets.”

While each organization was closed, staff members worked hard to get ready for reopening. Sinks were changed to touchless models, as were soap dispensers and hand dryers/towel dispensers. Hand sanitizing stations were tracked down and purchased, which wasn’t easy considering many other organizations were looking for the very same thing. With all of those new safety features in place, doors are reopening.

“We’re so relieved that we’ve been able to come up with solutions that keep our visitors and our staff as safe as possible,” said International Wolf Center Interpretive Center Manager Krista Harrington. “I know that everyone at the Dorothy Molter Museum and the bear center have been hard at work on the same thing.”

All three facilities plan frequent cleaning and sanitizing throughout each day, and each implemented its own Covid-19 preparedness operations plan based on state requirements.

Here’s more information on how each facility plans to operate for the time being:

Dorothy Molter Museum

Advance tickets, available online or by phone, are required for admission to the Dorothy Molter Museum, which celebrates the life of Dorothy Molter. Molter operated the Isle of Pines Resort from 1948 until 1986 and made tens of thousands of bottles of root beer for Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness paddlers.

She lived at the resort year-round. The museum honors her legacy with several of the cabins from her property on site, as well as countless photographs and many of her belongings.

One-hour time slots are available from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., seven days a week. There is a limit of 10 visitors on-site at any one time.

Masks are required. Disposable masks are available in the gift shop for $1.

Hand sanitizer is available on site.

Changes may be made to this schedule, so visitors should watch the museum’s website for the latest information.

More information about the Dorothy Molter Museum can be found at or by calling (218) 365-4451.

International Wolf Center

Advance tickets are required for admission to the International Wolf Center, too. They are for sale online at or by phone.

The Center features a live pack of ambassador wolves, exhibits and lecture-style programs in an auditorium setting.

The Center is open for members only from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. seven days a week. From 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. is general admission. The Center closes between 3:30 and 4 p.m. for a cleaning, then limited group admission is available from 4 to 5 p.m.

Masks are required. Disposable masks are available in the gift shop for $1 and hand sanitizer stations are available.

Changes may be made to this schedule in the coming weeks and months, so visitors should watch the Center’s website for the latest information.

More information about the International Wolf Center can be found at or by calling 218-365-4695.

North American Bear Center

The North American Bear Center is open daily from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The bear center will operate at 25 percent of its visitor capacity, or 65 people.

Staff will wear masks and cleaning and sanitizing public spaces throughout the day. Hand sanitizer is available. Visitors are encouraged to practice proper social distancing, too.

Changes may be made to this schedule in the coming weeks and months, so visitors should watch the center’s website for the latest information.

More information on the North American Bear Center can be found at or 218-365-7879.



The Center will reopen at 8 a.m. Monday, June 22.


By Chad Richardson
Communications Director
International Wolf Center



For the first time since March, the International Wolf Center is opening its doors to the public. The Center will reopen at 8 a.m. Monday, June 22.

Several changes are planned at the Center to ensure everyone’s safety during the Covid-19 pandemic. The biggest change is that tickets must be purchased in advance to ensure there’s enough space within the facility at any given time. Tickets can be purchased online at

Those without internet access can also purchase tickets by calling the Center at 218-365-4695.

There is a small convenience fee that is added to the ticket price whether purchasing online or over the phone.

Masks are required for all visitors. For those who don’t own a mask, they will be available for a suggested donation of $1 at the door.

“We can’t wait to open our doors back up and start teaching about wolves again,” said Krista Harrington, the Interpretive Center Manager. “Since we closed in March, we’ve all been working incredibly hard to prepare to reopen. Finally, that day is almost here.”

The daily schedule looks like this:

  • From 8 a.m. until 10 a.m., seven days a week, the Center opens to members only. This exclusive experience will allow for members to watch daily wolf care activities from the viewing area windows as staff members perform medical checks and feed the wolves supplemental nutrition. International Wolf Center members receive free admission, but they do still need to pre-register online to ensure the Center isn’t over capacity. Memberships can be purchased online at for those looking to gain these benefits.
  • From 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., the Center is open to the public. Advance tickets are required for admission. Members can receive free admission but must pre-register. Several educational programs are offered in the auditorium every day. Lecture-based programs take place at 10:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. Also planned are two wolf enrichment programs, which are a great time to observe the Center’s wolves. These enrichment programs are planned for 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
  • From 3:30 p.m. until 4 p.m., the Center will be closed for a thorough cleaning.
  • From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., the Center will reopen for groups from vulnerable populations. Attendance will be capped at 10 people during this time period.  Advance tickets are required and can be booked at During this session, a wolf enrichment program is planned at 4:15 p.m.

This schedule is subject to change. To stay up to date on all changes, please visit

A few special programs are also available including a members-only behind-the-scenes tour available on Friday and Sunday mornings. Information on how to register for this program and others can also be found at

The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wild lands and the human role in their future.

Additional webcams featuring the Center’s pack of wolves are now online

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Two new live webcams featuring the pack of ambassador wolves at the International Wolf Center are now featured on is the world’s leading philanthropic live nature cam network and documentary film channel. Their website features hundreds of live streaming cameras focused on nature and animals across the world. The International Wolf Center maintains a pack of ambassador wolves at its interpretive center in Ely, Minnesota.

“Our followers passionately observe our pack through webcams on our website, so we know there’s a great interest in this twenty-four hour access,” said the Center’s Executive Director, Grant Spickelmier. “By adding two cameras to the network, we expect we’ll be able to educate even more people about the natural behaviors of wolves.”

“[The new wolf camera] is one of a kind,” said Charles Annenberg Weingarten, founder of “It can’t be more sacred and I’m so excited to be a part of the wolf pack. Welcome wolves to the family!”’s cameras are operated by a network of volunteers, so viewers will be able to consistently observe wolves as operators zoom in and/or move the cameras around the wolf enclosure. In addition, representatives from the Center will be online at set times every week to answer questions from viewers on‘s commenting boards.

“It’s incredibly hard to observe wild wolves,” Spickelmier said. “Cameras like these make it possible for anyone, anywhere, to watch our Ambassador pack and learn about wolf behavior. This effort fits in very well with our education-based mission.”

A microphone is also part of the experience, making it possible for viewers to hear the wolves howl. Mornings and evenings are typically when the wolves are most active.

“We’re appreciative of the work that the team has done to make this partnership happen,” Spickelmier said. “Without their generosity and their expertise, this wouldn’t have been possible.”

To see the cameras, visit

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

Contact for livestream footage/photo requests:
Emily Berlin, Public Relations for

Free WolfLink programs, webinars, storytimes and reading resources are part of the efforts undertaken by the Center, which will remain closed through April

Contact: Chad Richardson, Communications Director
Phone: 763-233-7138

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Additional free educational programming about wolves is being offered by the International Wolf Center. These programs come as more students from across the United States find themselves at home instead of the classroom to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Efforts include free webinars, complete lists of resources and even morning preschool storytimes on Facebook Live.

“We know there’s great demand for opportunities to learn from home,” said the Center’s Executive Director, Grant Spickelmier. “We’re excited we can step up to help. It’s because of our support from members and donors across the world that we’re able to offer these programs at no charge.”

The programs are vital to the Center’s efforts to spread science-based wolf information during the current pandemic. The Center’s location in Ely, Minnesota, will remain closed to the public until about May 8 in accordance with recommendations from the state’s governor.

The Center will continue to monitor the situation and will post updates to its website at

“Our staff is eager to keep teaching the world about wolves, even as our facility in Ely is closed,” Spickelmier said.


Friday pack update webinar
After a successful launch  last week, the International Wolf Center will be offering another free Wolf Care webinar this Friday at 9 a.m. Central Time and every Friday this spring.

To watch the weekly webinars, watch for the most recent link. Links for these webinars are posted near the top of the homepage.

A free download of Zoom software may be required.

These webinars feature updates on the Center’s pack of ambassador wolves.

Books and videos list
Want your kids to stop playing video games for a while?  The Center’s outreach department compiled a complete list of age-appropriate videos and books. That list can be found on the Center’s website at

Included are publicly available videos on PBS and YouTube, plus book recommendations for preschoolers, elementary school students and middle school students through adults.

Wolf storytime
For our youngest pack members – the Center’s education staff will be holding a weekly preschool storytime featuring an appropriate wolf book. These broadcasts will be held on Mondays at 10 a.m. Central Time with the first one on Monday, March 30.  These will be shown on the Center’s Facebook page through Facebook Live. That page can be found here:

Closing update
The International Wolf Center’s location in Ely, Minnesota, will remain closed until June 1 in accordance with recommendations from the state’s governor.

The Center will continue to monitor the situation and will post updates to its website at

Wolf Care
A small team of dedicated staff members are continuing to provide care for the Center’s ambassador wolves even during the closing.

How can you help?
Additional programming efforts such as these come with considerable expense. While the Center takes on these efforts, it is doing so as its interpretive center in Ely, Minnesota, which is closed to the public because of the coronavirus. The interpretive center accounts for a significant share of the Center’s revenue every year and its indefinite closing presents a unique challenge.

“We are looking for additional supporters to join us now as we continue to push out free programming to those who need it,” Spickelmier said.  “We need our whole pack working together to face these challenges.”

To make a one-time donation, or a recurring gift, visit

Membership in the Center is also available and includes a number of benefits, including an annual subscription to International Wolf magazine. To learn more about membership, visit



CONTACT: Chad Richardson
Communications Director
Cell: 651-214-4989

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – In compliance with the executive order of Governor Walz, the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota is now closed to the public through at least the weekend of April 5 to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. As it makes this difficult decision, the Center is adding free online programming over the coming weeks to help support the increasing share of the world’s residents shut in their homes.

The Center had announced earlier this week that it would remain open on weekends, but the Governor’s order released today prompted the Center to revisit that decision.  While the Center will be closed, employees will still be on site seven days a week to provide care for the ambassador wolves.

“The health and safety of our visitors, staff and animals is our top priority,” said the Center’s executive director, Grant Spickelmier.

While the Center’s location in Ely will be closed, a big effort is underway to build additional online tools to educate the world about wolves. Free educational programming begins this week with a weekly webinar focused on the Center’s Exhibit Pack of wolves planned for 9 a.m. every Friday.  This free weekly program will be ongoing for the foreseeable future.

“This kind of free educational programming fits perfectly with our efforts to teach the world about wolves and gives people stuck in their homes something positive to focus on right now” Spickelmier said. “We’re especially thankful to all of our supporters over the years. Their contributions mean that we’re able to offer this kind of programming without charge to people across the world.”

The Center maintains a pack of ambassador wolves at the interpretive center in Ely, Minnesota that are used to teach the public.  For many years, people who cannot get to the Center have been able to look in on the wolves thanks to live webcams that broadcast seven days a week along with occasional fee based webinars.

The new webinars the Center is offering for free starting Friday will provide updates about the pack of ambassador wolves from Wolf Care staff and allow viewers to ask questions live. They will be held every Friday at 9 a.m. Central Time. Links to each week’s webinar will be posted on, the Center’s social media channels and to those who subscribe to email updates at

The link for the first webinar is A free download of Zoom software is required to watch these webinars.

Additional online programming and resources are being developed.  More information on that programming will be posted as it becomes available.

Event featuring Dr. Yadvendradev Jhala is hosted by the International Wolf Center



Chad Richardson, communications director
International Wolf Center
Office: 763-233-7132
Cell: 651-214-4989


MINNEAPOLIS, MN – One of the world’s leading experts on Asiatic lions, wolves and tigers in India will present a public program on Tuesday, March 17, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Dr. Yadvendradev Jhala is a leading researcher on predator biology in India. His public program will address the three animals and their prey, as well as human-wolf conflicts. The event is hosted by the International Wolf Center.

The presentation will be held in the meeting room at Summit Brewing Company, 910 Montreal Circle in St. Paul. There is a suggested donation of $10 for admission and seating is limited. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. Pre-show entertainment featuring students from the Mactir Academy of Irish Dance to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day will run from 6:30 to 7 p.m. Dr. Jhala’s presentation will begin at 7 p.m. A cash bar will be available.

Dr. Jhala is a faculty member at the Wildlife Institute of India. He is also a research associate of the Genetics Program in the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institute and is the IUCN wolf specialist for India. He is a leading expert and influential thinker on aspects of human-wolf conflicts. In addition to studying wolves, lions and tigers, Dr. Jhala is also tracking snow leopards.

“We’re excited and proud that we can offer this kind of programming featuring an international expert,” said Grant Spickelmier, the executive director of the International Wolf Center. “Dr. Jhala is one of the world’s leading authorities on wolves, tigers and lions. We’re looking forward to learning more from him about wolves and other predators in India and how they are working towards successful predator-human coexistence.”

For more information about the program, contact the Center’s communications director, Chad Richardson, by email at

Her battle with cancer ended peacefully on Tuesday

Chad Richardson, administrator
International Wolf Center
Office: 763-233-7132
Cell: 651-214-4989

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

Grant Spickelmier will join the pack in January

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

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.


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

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


  • 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