From our leadership
Executive Director’s Letter
Executive Director Grant Spickelmier shares his thoughts on a year full of achievements, from integrating new pups into our pack, hosting the International Wolf Symposium and awarding the first two winners of the Dr. L. David Mech fellowship.
Board Chair’s letter
Board of Directors Chair Judy Hunter says she is very proud to lead the board of an organization that has a strong mission and a strong team of staff and volunteers. They all believe in the mission and work very hard to make sure we live by our mission in all that we do.
The International Wolf Symposium
The 2022 International Wolf Symposium brought together nearly 450 biologists, researchers and wolf enthusiasts from across the world to learn the latest science about wolves. The event, organized by the International Wolf Center, was held Oct. 13-16 in Minneapolis.
Numerous highlights marked the event, including (but not limited to) these:
- Dr. Yadvendradev Jhala’s address during the banquet. He shared news about carnivore recovery in India and the unique ways in which restoring carnivores to the landscape is benefiting local communities through tourism.
- The co-keynote address by Dr. L. David Mech and Dr. Luigi Boitani. Their long friendship was on display in old photos and stories they shared. Boitani said he’s often asked what wolves eat in Italy. He answers, “Spaghetti!” (He said wolves have survived on garbage in Italy, so it’s likely they do actually eat spaghetti.)
Dr. L. David Mech Fellowships
The International Wolf Center announced the first winners of the Dr. L. David Mech Fellowships.
They were Lily Heinzel and Cameron Ho.
Both students received a $6,000 stipend and up to $4,000 in support for field research expenses. The International Wolf Center, which Mech founded in 1985, funds the fellowships.
Heinzel was a senior at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Ho graduated from the University of Washington in June 2021.
The Loss of a Center Icon—Grizzer 5/5/2004 – 1/27/2022
Grizzer, our oldest ambassador wolf at the International Wolf Center, in Ely, Minnesota, was euthanized at approximately 7:40 a.m. on January 27, 2022, within the confines of the Center’s wolf care facility. He was surrounded by the wolf care team that cared for him throughout his entire life and remained calm despite being held inside the building on a cold winter night. Grizzer, the 17 ½-year-old gray wolf was born on May 5, 2004. He was bottle-fed as a young neonate pup at the Center with his littermate Maya, and their cousin, Nyssa. He added a lot to pack dynamics, deferring to his pack leaders, Shadow and Maya. He worked hard to maintain his second-ranking position initially over Malik and later over Denali. After Shadow’s retirement, the pack couldn’t seem to settle on a leader, creating some strife between Grizzer and Denali. He retired earlier than most of our wolves, transferring into retirement prior to his 7th birthday on March 1, 2011. Ironically, Grizzer would welcome many members of the Exhibit Pack into retirement as social companions, including Denali in 2020.
Grizzer’s decline was short-lived; On January 25, Grizzer was active, taking his morning nutritional supplements and eating well. By 11 a.m. on January 26, the wolf care team was working with the veterinarian consultant to assess his condition, gather blood samples and make him as comfortable as possible. While evidence supports the likelihood of this being a heart condition, the finding of possible carcinomas in his lungs may have played a factor and a metastatic carcinoma could not be ruled out.
Grizzer will always be remembered for his “Grizzer 500”. This behavior included play bows followed by an invitation to chase him, inviting both the wolves and humans that shared his life to join him.
So often people portray wolves for their predatory behavior and don’t appreciate the intricate pack life and social organization that keeps them together as a social unit. It is the curator’s job to maintain a socially cohesive unit of wolves at the International Wolf Center, and we do recognize that to do this, new life must be added to the exhibit.
On May 10th, 2022, wolf care team members Abby Keller and Awen Briem met our newest Exhibit Pack members, nicknamed Blackbeard, and Captain Kid, affectionally known as the “Pirates”. Many people asked about our decision to have back-to-back pup years as the Center typically had been adding pups on a 4-year rotation. With Rieka being a single pup in 2021, she missed a lot of social interactions that would typically play out between littermates. She needed the strong bonding that a pup season can bring and the 2022 pup introduction was a significant investment in not just Rieka’s behavioral development, but also in our pack’s future. The “Pirates” brought that bonding opportunity and Rieka took on a new role as protector, often guarding the pups from Axel. The pup naming contest selected Blackstone and Caz as their permanent names and the rest as they say is history. If you want to see that history, check out our YouTube channel for video updates.
Thanks to generous donors we reached many other milestones in 2022:
- Completed the Boltz Byway medical pen—In honor of Boltz, who was reluctant to come to the front of the exhibit during his challenging diagnosis of Degenerative Myopathy.
- Upgraded surveillance cameras to monitor pack activity 24-7.
- Finalized outdoor public viewing of pups with upgraded fences and protective panels.
- Improved enclosure habitat and winter access with a new ATV and plow.
- Implemented Working for Wolves enrichment programs to stimulate pack activity.
- Developed the curator transition plan to ensure adequate training and social bonding for the next generation of wolves.
2022 was a strong year financially for the International Wolf Center thanks to incredibly generous support from our members. With income of $2,280,727 and expenses of $2,209,244 we ended the year with net ordinary income of $71,483. These resources allowed us to add full time positions in both our Education and Wolf Care departments. The International Wolf Center was pleased to once again receive a four star rating from Charity Navigator in 2022—as an indicator of our organization’s effective use of donor resources to accomplish our wolf education mission.
For older financial statements, please email email@example.com.
The International Wolf Center is a 501(c)(3) organization.