Spring 2019


Le Plan du Loup*
*The Wolf Plan
By Debra Mitts-Smith

The last wolves in France were seen in 1934, after which they disappeared from the landscape until 1992. Today, 52 packs inhabit the country. This is the entertaining, informative tale of le loup—the wolf—in France, and France’s national response to its presence. It’s an unfinished story with cultural, economic and environmental considerations, all wound into a 100-page document unveiled in 2018.

These Montana Ranchers Are Helping Grizzlies, Wolves and Cattle Coexist
By Kristina Johnson

Montana’s Tom Miner Basin, just outside Yellowstone, has become a model of what environmentalists call predator coexistence. The use of range riders, along with innovations such as low-stress herd handling and even breeding the “fight” back into cattle, has allowed ranchers to minimize predation despite the presence of one wolf pack and 30 to 40 adult grizzly bears in the basin.

Diane Boyd—Patient Pursuit of Understanding
By Myers Reese

Diane Boyd’s remarkable career began with a field assignment from her mentor, Dr. L. David Mech. By 1979 she was tracking the first radio-collared gray wolf in western Montana. She would study and live among wolves for two more decades, patiently learning and reporting on their progress. After 40 years, she’s a specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks—and still loving what she does. Download article.



From the Executive Director

Shining a Light on Our Symposium Co-chairs
by Rob Schultz

Just a few months ago, the International Wolf Center played host to nearly 500 people from 23 countries at the 2018 International Wolf Symposium.

Elsewhere in this magazine, you’ll read about the numerous sessions that were held and the impressive list of speakers who dazzled us all.

What you won’t read much about, though, is the huge task of organizing the event, performed beautifully by two of our board members. Here, I want to highlight the amazing work they did to make the symposium such a success.

Tracking the Pack

Time for Reflection
by Lori Schmidt, wolf curator, International Wolf Center

Where does the time go? It seems like yesterday, but it was May 1989 when a seasonal wolf exhibit opened at the U.S. Forest Service’s Voyageur Visitor Center in Ely, Minnesota—and so began what would become the International Wolf Center’s wolf care department.

Visitor Center staff introduced the public to the Center’s first four captive pups—Jedadiah, Bausha, Ballazar and Raissa—and a complex journey of science-based education began. Thirty years later, wolf care staff is adept at the intricacies of managing a social carnivore. Some lessons were harder than others, but the knowledge gained with each pack and each decision about its care helped create the foundation for our current management policies.

Member Profile

Passion for Wolves, Passion for Teaching
Kathy Kneeland’s Dedication to Wolves Shows in Every Part of her Life
by Susan Ricci

Kathy Kneeland has always been interested in nature and wildlife. A biology major in college, she had a particular interest in Minnesota wildlife. Her passion for wolves was fueled by her first visit to the International Wolf Center in 2008 when ambassador wolves Aidan and Denali were pups. After that she began following the Center online and participated in wolf ecology courses and webinars, and even took part in the Center’s recent “Wine, Women and Wolves” event.


Paws and Effect:

Wolves have fantastic feet with adaptations that set them apart from other animals in their environment. Wolves’ very large feet help them move around confidently on harsh terrain. In the winter those big feet even double as snowshoes, keeping them from sinking down into the snow as much as do other animals. Visit our Wildkids section.

Wolves of the World

Worldwide, People Learn Strategies, Advantages of Living with Wolves
by Tracy O’connell


Wolves are attracting tourists in Zamora province, located in Castile and León, one mountainous region in northwestern Spain near the border with Portugal. The Huffington Post notes that here, farming has fallen into decline, and locals are eager to explore the opportunities this new revenue source provides. With young people leaving small towns for jobs in bigger cities, the difficulties of farming in the area’s harsh climate and poor soil, and the effects of the 2008 financial crisis lingering, much of the farmland is being
returned to the wild.


Radio Free Europe reports that Christmas lights are being used to keep wolves away from the remote village of Morino in the western administrative unit, or oblast, known as Pskov, where wolves have snatched dozens of dogs. A 2013 wild boar hunt intended to prevent the spread of African swine fever has limited the wolves’ former quarry, and local citizens fear that humans, especially children, may fall prey to the wolves, as the threat has worsened in recent years.


The war that has simmered for years between this country’s military forces and Russian-backed separatists is having unintended consequences for residents of the border area, The New York Times reports.

To reduce confusion about who is shooting at what, hunting is prohibited as far as 40 miles from the front line, increasing numbers of both prey and predator, and more likely interactions with carnivores— possibly rabid ones—for area residents and their pets and livestock. While there have been some efforts to fight rabies by dropping doses of vaccine from planes or culling predatory animals, the measures have been called haphazard and inefficient.


The nomadic Tibetan Changpa people of Leh, a town in the state of Jammu and Kashmir that was the capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, deal harshly with wolves that kill their prized pashmina goats, stoning to death those caught in a traditional trap called a shang-dong, a pit made of stones, baited with meat and buried in the ground.


A graduate student in Denmark has sequenced the genome of the Honsh¯u wolf, an animal formerly found on the Japanese island of the same name, which farmers considered a benevolent forest spirit that kept wild boars from destroying their crops. But the wolves became rabid from contact with dogs in the 1800s and have since been shot and poisoned into extinction.


Wolf biologist Amir Hadhi Ebrahimi reports that villagers in Ghalatain near Saveh City rescued a wolf that had fallen into a trap (probably set by a farmer) and released it unharmed into the wild. Ebrahimi is always glad to share such examples as they come to his attention. Saveh City is the capital of Saveh County in the Markazi Province of Iran, about 100 km (62 miles) southwest of Tehran.


Wolves were extirpated from Ireland more recently (by nearly 500 years) than from England, and 100 years sooner than from Scotland, notes an article in AncientOrigins.net, an online source that seeks to reconstruct the story of humanity’s past. Numbers of the canids ran so high in Ireland that the nation was known until the Middle Ages as Wolfland, the article relates, quoting a Shakespearean character in “As You Like It”— “Pray you, no more of this, ‘tis like the howling of Irish wolves against the moon.” Myth and folklore here and in other lands addressed the idea of wolves parenting human children and the existence of werewolves. Landowners were required to keep wolfhounds as protection against the predators, and ringed fortresses were seen as a guard against animal and human attacks. The article addresses discussions of rewilding the Irish countryside and the likelihood (or lack of it) that may exist in this landscape replete with farms.

Personal Encounter

Acts Like a Wolf, Misunderstood Like a Wolf—and Barely Surviving, a World Apart
by Nancy Gibson

I watch the silhouettes dashing across the tall grasses and think: This could be a pack of wolves chasing elk in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park. Instead, I am bouncing along in a jeep at dusk in Botswana, Africa. The animals weaving and darting in pursuit of an impala are wild canines, creatures with multiple names—African wild dogs, Cape hunting dogs, painted dogs and most recently, painted wolves. Despite all the monikers, Lycaon pictus, share a distant, common ancestor and many behaviors with Canis lupus—wolves. Download article.

A Look Beyond

Building Bridges through Education, One Interaction at a Time
by Misi Stine

As an educator, I frequently meet people in my travels who ask me questions about wolves. Their curiosity is often driven by fairy tales, the media, the cultures they come from and their life experiences. From time to time I encounter a question or a comment that sticks with me in a captivating way. I’ll share a few of them here and explain why they resonate with me.

2018 Wolf Symposium Hosts Nearly 500
by Chad Richardson

Over three days, nearly 500 people from 22 countries packed into ballrooms and meeting rooms to hear from many of the world’s experts on wolves during the 2018 International Wolf Symposium in mid-October. Organized by the International Wolf Center, the event took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. The last International Wolf Symposium was held in 2013.

Narumi Nambu presented with Who Speaks for Wolf Award at International Wolf Symposium
by Chad Richardson

It was clear to the entire audience that Narumi Nambu had just received the surprise of her life.

In a packed hotel ballroom in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA during the 2018 International Wolf Symposium, Nambu had just been named the recipient of the 2018 Who Speaks for Wolf Award presented by the International Wolf Center.

As she walked toward the stage to accept the award, Nambu’s hands covered her mouth in excitement. “I thought it was a mistake when I heard my name, especially since Japan has not approached the world level of wolf conservation,” she said. “Because my country no longer has any wolves, it can only take from the world but cannot reciprocate” The Who Speaks for Wolf Award is given annually by the International Wolf Center for making exceptional contributions to wolf education by teaching people how wolves live, and placing wolves in the broader context of humans’ relationship to nature. Nambu earned the award for her work with the Japan Wolf Association. She’s an active member of the association, which aims to have wolves reintroduced in Japan. Nambu has  translated multiple wolf books into Japanese, researches Japanese attitudes about wolves and their possible reintroduction there, speaks at conferences and publishes in a variety of forums.