Fall 2021


The Ojibwe, Wolves and Tribal Biologists
By Debra Mitts-Smith

Gray wolves have protected status on many reservations, but sometimes protecting them is not easy—or even possible. To better understand and protect an animal traditionally sacred to their people, Ojibwe tribes have hired biologists to study and monitor wolves over large swaths of Minnesota and Wisconsin. This is the story of their efforts and some of their findings. Download article.

Back from the Brink: A Practical Guide to the History and Law of Wolf Recovery and Delisting in the United States By Richard A. Duncan

The author explains the events, human influences and justifications for the fate of the gray wolf under federal protection laws—or lack thereof, depending on the era, the political influences at hand, and political pressures brought to bear. He also defines for us the terms and criteria used in listing, downlisting, or delisting the wolf as a federally protected species.

Wisconsin’s Wolf Debate: Science and Public Opinion Speak
By Chad Richardson

Contention over Wisconsin’s wolf management plan has focused on whether the target population number is a goal or a minimum. Further, should the number be based purely on science, or on cultural and political perspectives, as well? While the dialogue has caused delays, biologists are hoping for a strictly science-based analysis.



From the Executive Director

Call fo the Wild
by Grant Spickelmier

What do you think of when you hear the term “wildlands”?

Do you think of the rugged depths of the Grand Canyon? A windswept vista in Rocky Mountain National Park or in Yellowstone? Or maybe a canoe sliding into a pristine lake surrounded by pine trees. These places calm our minds and sustain our spirits. For wolves, wildlands sustain their very lives. Science has shown that one of the most important elements in long-term survival for wolf populations is the presence of wildland habitat. But what exactly are wildlands?

Tracking the Pack

A Wolf Pup’s Journey
by Lori Schmidt, wolf curator, International Wolf Center

The International Wolf Center had planned to adopt three pups in 2020, but plans changed when our facility was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We developed a new plan for 2021, working with the same source facility—the Wildlife Science Center in Stacy, Minnesota. Following our original intention, we identified the northwestern subspecies (Canis lupus occidentalis) as our adoption choice and began organizing the details of pup care, pack integration and other logistical aspects of managing a public exhibit. We made assumptions about whelping dates based on our only other experience with members of the northwestern subspecies, Aidan and Denali, born at the Wildlife Science Center on April 27, 2008. Based on the litter from which we had hoped to adopt in 2020, we also assumed there would be multiple pups available.

Member Profile

Ellayna Lynch, Teen Author
by Chad Richardson

Some 13-year-olds do their sum-mer reading begrudgingly, but that doesn’t apply to International  Wolf Center member Ellayna Lynch. Her “light summer reading” is a book you’re probably familiar with: The Wolf by Dr. L. David Mech.

“It’s a little heavy, but really interest-ing,” Lynch said. “My grandfather told me about Dr. Mech. He got the book when it first came out.”

When she isn’t reading about wolves, Ellayna is writing about them. She pub-lished a book earlier this year titled, Shadow: Wolves of the Forest Book 1. It is available on Amazon in Kindle format, and the paperback version launched in July.

Wolves of the World

Language Affects Culture in Canada, China and France; In Germany, Cave Provides Insight on Ancient Life
by Tracy O’connell


The Summer 2021 issue of International Wolf included the story of Takaya, a lone wolf who gained worldwide following among people who viewed photos of him by naturalist and conservation photographer Cheryl Alexander. That story was illustrated with a mural commemorating Takaya, done by Victoria artist Paul Archer on two sides of an old foghorn building located on Discovery, the small island off British Columbia that the wolf chiefly called home. Tributes continue to come in, and the Times-Colonist newspaper in January marked the anniversary of the day that Takaya swam to the mainland and three months later was legally shot.

Alexander, who gave Takaya his name (although First Nation peoples had already named him Stqéyəʔ in their language), received 80 pieces of commemorative artwork from around the globe after news of the wolf’s death spread. Books, a movie and more are in the works or have been completed. A metal statue was erected on the island. More than 68,000 people signed a petition to pause wolf hunting in Vancouver until more is known about the scope of the wolf population and the impacts of hunting.


A list of endangered species to be protected, released earlier this year, surprised many people by doubling in scope to include 1,000 such species—and including one that after many years made the list—the wolf. The Economist pointed out in February that the last time the list was produced, more than 30 years ago, the wolf was hunted for bounty more than 30 years before that.


In a Summer 2021 International Wolf article entitled “Wolves Are Good to Think With,” Debra Mitts-Smith discussed the way in which language and its applications evolve. The Local, an English-language website that “captures the essence of nations” recently shared a list of French expressions using “wolf” and the meanings they have today. (“Loup” is French for “wolf.”)


A small cave here is being seen as a possible site of early wolf domestication. So read the March 2021 headline in Sciencealert.com about a finding discussed in Scientific Reports, of “astounding genetic diversity, encompassing nearly the entire breadth of dog domestication, from wild wolf to modern hound.”

Researchers note the specimens found include those of dogs, wolves and foxes that lived more than 14,000 years ago, and that their mitochondrial genomes appear to match the collective variation of almost all ancient canines from this region analyzed to date.

Personal Encounter

The Reign of the Calanda Wolves
The First Wolf Family of Modern Day Switzerland
by Peter Dettling

An adult wolf!”

I had waited, prayed and hoped for a long time to exclaim those three words. Truly, I would have liked to shout and let the world know the joy I felt. However, I had to curb my immense excitement as I whispered the three magical words into a two-way radio. On the other side, the message was received in a manner just as exuberant. My message was directed to Tiffany, my then girlfriend, who ventured with me in 2014 to the Swiss Alps to try to uncover the secretive lives of the first Swiss wolf family of modern times.

Book Review

Redemption of Wolf 302
McIntyre’s Third Story Continues a Peerless Series Book Review
by Norm Bishop

When a hockey player scores three goals in a single game, the player may win a hat—or a cascade of hats. In my view, Rick McIntyre has scored a hat trick with his three books on Yellowstone wolves: The Rise of Wolf 8, The Reign of Wolf 21, and now The Redemption of Wolf 302. Each wolf’s story, the first from 1995 and the last from 2009, adds breadth and depth to our understanding of wolves—a species that can well afford more human appreciation of its kind. And happily, there are more books to come.

The hero of The Redemption of Wolf 302 demonstrates one of the most predictable traits of wolves: unpredictability. He first comes to our attention as a rake and a renegade a bit beyond 2 ½ years of age, flitting from pack to pack, breeding with multiple willing females and then retreating to his home pack. Later, he joins packs—always as a subordinate, but managing frequently to break the “rule” that the dominant pair are the only wolves in a pack that breed. Finally, having survived to an age well beyond that of the average wolf, he shows the world that he is a responsible, caring, self-sacrificing adult who hung back to protect his pack when they were under attack—and lost his life to their pursuers. In so doing, he fulfilled his legacy in the manner and spirit of his predecessors, Wolf 8, Wolf 21 and others.

A Look Beyond

California to the Gray Wolf: Welcome Home!
by Jordan Traverso
The return of gray wolves to California after nearly 100 years is a hopeful story of ecological importance. Not only does it showcase nature’s resiliency, but for those of us at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), it is a sign of positive habitat management, applying the right regulations and restrictions, and a thoughtful conservation management plan created in preparation for the wolves’ return.
The wolf making recent headlines is OR-93 (the name indicating this is the 93rd wolf collared in Oregon), who has traveled farther south than any wolf in California since their return. He is the 16th gray wolf documented to have dispersed into California; most of those animals have traveled from Oregon.


A New Pup Becomes an Ambassador
by Lexi Ham and Abby Keller

The arrival of the International Wolf Center’s new pup this sum-mer was very exciting!

Pups require a lot of attention, and Rieka (pronounced Rye-ka) needed care 24 hours a day for a couple of months before she was ready to join our Exhibit Pack of Axel and Grayson in the main enclosure. Here’s a closer look at how wolf pups grow and change over the first few months of life.