Summer 2023


How a Cat Parasite Makes Wolves
By Kira A. Cassidy

One tiny parasite reproduces only in cats—but it exists worldwide, and can infect any mammal or bird. Yellowstone wolves share their environment with cougars and other felids, and exposure to the parasite can change their behavior, making them more likely to take risks. Researchers including our author are still seeking answers as to why.

Restoring Wolves to Yellowstone—the Unpublicized Backstory
By Steven Fritts

The U.S. had nearly eradicated wolves by 1950. They were reintroduced in the 1990s. But how did they get here, and who did the work? Here is Part 1 of the backstory, when a tenacious, steadfast crew did miserably hard work against poor odds, amid cruel weather and bureaucratic interference to restore an essential predator to its natural environment. Download article.

Mexican Wolves: A Comeback Story
By Aislinn Maestas

Mexican wolves were driven so close to extinction in the U.S. and Mexico by 1970 that a captive-breeding program became necessary. Its success is a story that includes managing a growing wild population, collaboration between countries, working with Mexican wildlife agencies to grow their population, and building human relationships that support the presence of wolves.

Doug Smith Retired after 28 Years Leading Yellowstone Wolf Project
By Norm Bishop

Last fall, a wolf research legend packed up his radio collars and packed in a 28-year career. Doug Smith was on hand to receive the first wolves translocated to Yellowstone in 1995. Days after, Doug was in the air to monitor the newcomers, and he didn’t stop there. He’ll be missed and long-admired by colleagues across the nation.


From the Executive Director

And the Survey Says…
by Grant Spickelmier

Last fall we asked all of our International Wolf Center members to complete a survey to help us prepare our new strategic plan. We were so pleased to receive more than 250 responses filled with compliments, heartfelt stories and well thought-out feedback. I want to share a few highlights.

Where we asked members to describe the work of the International Wolf Center, several words and phrases appeared again and again: education, awareness, science-based, trustworthy, caring and fun! Over 86% of you said you were very satisfied with your membership, and a similar number said you would (and do!) recommend an International Wolf Center membership to your family and friends.

Tracking the Pack

Comparison of Social Bonds —One Year Later
by Lori Schmidt, wolf curator, International Wolf Center

A casual observer might assume that raising wolf pups new to the Exhibit Pack would be a repeat performance each time—especially with back-to-back “pup years” in 2021 and ’22. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and the pup care team can attest to that fact. There are far too many variables in the scientific process of pup rearing, the most critical being the age of pups when team members begin the socialization process.

Wolves of the World

Wolves Target of Love, Hate Across Europe and Emulation in Japan
by Tracy O’connell


In fall 2022, a plan to use paintballs to deter wolves that had been deemed troublesome was shot down in court here. After several instances of bicyclists being pursued by wolves in the Hogue Veluwe National Park, media reported that rangers were authorized to use paintballs to deter aggressive animals, a solution seen not as harmful to wolves, but painful enough to teach them to avoid humans. The plan had the additional advantage, supporters noted, that wolves marked with paint would be easy to identify when encountered again. The goal was to keep wolves at least 100 feet (30 meters) from humans.


An estimated 1,000 head of domestic livestock—sheep, goats, cows and donkeys—will be killed here by wolves this year, according to the Kora Foundation, which deals with Swiss predator ecology and wildlife management. The prediction, by the organization’s managing director Christian Stauffer, compares with a decade ago when 112 animals were lost to wolf predation. Only one pack hunted there then, and now they number 20, Stauffer told Blick, a German-language daily Swiss newspaper.


Wildlife migration will be restricted by the construction of a wall along the southeastern border with Russia, conservationists say. Wolves, bear, wild boar and red deer are expected be affected. The structure is supported by leaders of the nation’s major political parties and planned to be 130 to 260 kilometers (80 to 161 miles) long— approximately one-tenth the length of the border between the two countries. Some worry that the design, three meters (close to nine feet) tall and topped with barbed wire, will not allow the passage of large mammals. Requested by the Finnish Border Guard to cut immigration, the project is expected to start this summer. The Border Guard is exploring ways to mitigate environmental challenges, according to Yle, an online public service broadcaster.


A white wolf has been spotted in the Negev desert here on trail cameras set up by the Nature and Parks Authority. White wolves are rare in this part of the world but not unknown. The media outlet Jewish News Syndicate reports that in 2012 a white wolf was seen at the Evrona Nature Reserve, and in 2015 a female white wolf was seen at the Mishor Yamin plateau.


A love of wolves has taken some interesting forms here.

Concerned with protecting their crops from ravening ungulates, farmers’ use of robot wolves (reported previously in these pages) has expanded in scope and variety, according to British newspaper The Sun. In addition to protecting fields from wildlife that cause up to an annual $120 million U.S. in damages, some seek the robots’ protection against increasing numbers of attacks on humans by wild boar and bears, which have twice proven fatal in the last two years.


What is being described as the largest wolf cull in modern history was scheduled to take place in 2023 with an approved take of 75 animals out of a wild population of 460. While environmentalists decry the scope of the action, claiming it is a gift to the nation’s strong hunting faction, those in favor of fewer wolves—including the majority of the Swedish parliament— prefer to see the total population closer to 170, the lowest figure approved by the European Union.

Personal Encounter

A Momentary Gaze—and a Lifelong Memory
by Cree Bradley

Standing face to face with a wolf, only a dead deer lying between us, I won’t pretend to know what the wolf was thinking. But it felt as if I were experiencing Thoreau’s miracle—that the deer was a truce and we both knew it, through that steady gaze of our eyes.

The day had begun with a leisurely ski down a trail near our property in northern Minnesota. My husband and I, with our dog, Ruby, on skijor harness, had taken advantage of the brilliant February day: full sun, yet too cold to work our maple-sugaring lines, the sap-collection tubing being too brittle at those temps to repair more than we damage. Knowing our lives would soon become busy with demanding work for 10 months straight, we paused our work for a day of play. Shortly into the trip,

A Look Beyond

Wolves and Wisconsinites: Improving Relations?
By Debra Mitts-Smith

In 2022, in preparation for updating the Wisconsin wolf management plan, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) designed an eight-page scientific survey of the public’s views about wolves and wolf management in Wisconsin. This was the DNR’s second such survey. In 2014 Wisconsin DNR social scientists developed a statewide scientific survey on residents’ perceptions of wolves and the factors shaping them. The purpose of both surveys was to inform wolf management decisions and policies.