Summer 2022

Features


What Big Teeth You Have:
Wolf Attacks on Humans
By Debra Mitts-Smith

Do wolves pose a threat to humans? As these social predators expand their populations, this question—and the answers—become vital to wolf-human coexistence. Scientists have collected and analyzed wolf-attack data from wherever it exists, and their report acknowledges risk as it belies the
“Big Bad Wolf” image of folklore. Fact-based recommendations included here can help manage what little risk exists.  Download article.

Mastiff Dogs Protect Livestock from Wolves in Spain
By Juan Carlos Blanco and Yolanda Cortés

In the sunny rural landscapes of Spain, the Spanish mastiff has for centuries protected livestock from wolves. But as wolf populations declined in the 20th century, the mastiffs also disappeared from the countryside. In 2021, the Spanish government protected the wolf—and now, the mighty mastiff is back. The authors, well-known Spanish wolf biologists, reveal these dogs’ essential service to Spanish livestock producers.

Love Wolves? Put Yourself in the Picture!
By Tracy O’Connell

The 2022 International Wolf Center symposium, Wolves in a Changing World, is set for October 13–16 in Minneapolis. World leaders in wolf biology and ecology will provide a full schedule of entertaining, educational programming—and optional events include a trip to the International Wolf Center and a Saturday night banquet. Read about it here and plan to attend!

Departments


From the Executive Director

Living with Loss
by Grant Spickelmier

This January, we said farewell to a venerable and beloved member of our retirement pack. At an impressive 17 years and 8 months of age, Grizzer’s passing was not unexpected, but this didn’t reduce our sense of loss. We received an incredible outpouring of condolence calls, emails and letters from people who had followed Grizzer’s life, many from the time he was a pup. Grizzer’s death was especially painful coming on the heels of Denali’s passing in the fall of 2021. Suddenly, our retirement enclosure was empty.

Tracking the Pack

Grizzer — A Lifetime of Memories
by Lori Schmidt, wolf curator, International Wolf Center

On Jan. 26, 2022, our wolf-care team discovered that Grizzer, our 17½ year-old wolf, was experiencing serious medical problems. After a series of diagnostic tests, his condition declined, and the decision to euthanize him was made 24 hours later. The necropsy identified an issue with the chordae tendineae—the connection between the heart valve and the papillary muscles, likely causing acute, congestive heart failure. Staff stayed focused on Grizzer during those final hours, offering comfort and making a detailed assessment of his condition. During that 24-hour shift, staff pored over numerous emails of support and shared many fond memories. Words can hardly describe the richness of life Grizzer brought to his packmates, to our wolf-care team, and to the International Wolf Center’s onsite and virtual visitors. From challenging changes in his rank order to welcoming old friends to the retirement area, Grizzer created memories of events, behaviors and consequences and taught lots of lessons that still influence pack-management decisions.

WildKids

The Unusual Journey of OR-93

What would happen if you stepped outside your home and kept walking in one direction? Close your eyes and imagine the journey. What sights would you see? Would you walk through cities or towns, over mountains, across rivers, past plains, swamps or lakes? Who would you meet? Would they be friendly or not? How far do you think you would go before you’d want to turn around and head home again?

On January 30, 2021, a two-year-old wolf called OR-93 started a journey just like that. He left his pack in western Oregon and started walking south. He wanted to find a territory of his own and a mate. When an animal leaves the place where it was born for those reasons, scientists call the behavior “dispersal.” Download

Wolves of the World

Research Points to Origins of Japanese and Indian Wolves; in Europe, Solutions Sought for Competing Interests 
by Tracy O’connell

EUROPE

The status of wildlife is shifting across Europe as climate change, eco-logical niches, environmental protections and cultural attitudes play their various roles. London’s Daily Telegraph, for instance, reported in December 2021 on the expansion of the golden jackal’s range across Europe, citing its appearance in Tuscany in the past year as an example of its increase in numbers and sightings.

SCANDINAVIA

The wolves found in Norway and Sweden today—approximately 400 animals whose territory includes por-tions of both neighboring countries—are Finnish in ancestry, a five-year-long study has concluded, and the wolves that previously roamed this turf for 12,000 years exist no more.

INDIA

Officials at the Sakkarbaug Zoo spent six years rehabilitating Divyangi, an Indian wolf with a damaged foreleg, whom they are now heralding, five years on, as being the founder of a project to restore wolves to the wild in Banaskantha—the second largest of 31 districts in Gujarat, India’s fifth-largest state, with a population that is about 85% rural. Located on India’s west coast, the state of Gujarat is renowned for its beaches, temples, hill resorts and wildlife sanctuaries, as well as being the birthplace of Mahatma Ghandi. To obtain mates for Divyangi and her two sisters, the state government traded an Asiatic lion to each of three other zoos and received a male wolf from each in return.

EURASIA

The role of horses in the diet of wolves and other carnivores worldwide was the theme of the December 2021 issue of Carnivore Damage Prevention News, a publication of LIFE Euro Large Carnivores, a European Union effort to “improve coexistence … through com-munication, cross-border cooperation and knowledge exchange.” Noting that horses hold a place in human minds because they are considered noble and strong, the group says horses’ role as prey animals often brings emotional as well as financial pain to those affected by their depredation.

CANADA

A three-year study of caribou in the Yukon’s Southern Lakes region seems to indicate their recovery is not hampered by wolf predation or road collisions.

A Look Beyond

On Again, Off Again, On Again:
The tangled web of protections, lawsuits and legislation for wolves in the U.S.
By Debra Mitts-Smith

The gray wolf’s legal status in the U.S. has been in flux for decades. In February, another chapter in this complicated saga was written as wolves were relisted under the Federal Endangered Species act across 42 states and in parts of three others.

In November 2020, during the last days of the Trump administration, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced a rule removing federal protections for the gray wolf across much of the U.S. under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), return-ing wolf management to the states in January 2021.

Book Review

Book review by Norm Bishop

In her Atlas of Conflict Reduction – A Montana Field-Guide to Sharing Ranching Landscapes with Wildlife (Anthem Press 2002), Dr. Hannah F. Jaicks, Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative (NRCC) research associate, takes on an emotion-laden topic. She provides a social science-based assessment of attitudes, assumptions and values, which she follows with a practical guide for reducing conflict between wolves and livestock owners.