Summer 2020


Into a Wolf Den
By Cheryl Lyn Dybas

The author takes us along on a bumpy expedition as biologists locate a wolf den, count pups, check their health and development, and add that data to what’s known about wolf reproduction and survival in Minnesota. The job is harder than it sounds, and Dybas lets us in on the process and results.

50 Years in Print, L. David Mech’s The Wolf Remains Relevant
By International Wolf Center Staff

In 1970, Dr. L. David Mech authored The Wolf: Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species. The book is still in print, with updates, and its author—world-renowned researcher and founder of the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota—here discusses with Center staff the book, its importance, its history and its updates. Download full article.

The Riley Creek Wolf Pack’s Sole Survivor
By Ned Rozell

In Alaska’s Denali National Park, there lives a lone survivor of her own pack, which once numbered 17. Called “Riley” by the author, this intrepid female with a “bum leg and squinty eye” has reached the age of almost 10 years, with all the signs of her determination to survive clearly showing. This is her story.

25 Years of Re-living with Wolves in Yellowstone
by Norman Bishop

Park Service veteran Norm Bishop tried to prepare the Yellowstone region for wolves. Today, he reflects on what we’ve learned since wolves were restored to the western mountain states 25 years ago.


From the Executive Director

Lessons in Resiliency

A few months ago when I accepted the job here, I decided to catch up on some of the latest books on wolf biology and conservation. One of the books I picked up was American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee. As I read his extremely well-written description of wolf ’06 and the various humans who intersected with her life in Yellowstone, I was struck by the number of challenges ’06 faced during her life and, in most cases, navigated successfully. She constantly adapted to the changing conditions around her, fought off invasions by rival packs, changed territories when necessary and kept her pack together. Her struggle for survival was inspiring to read.

Tracking the Pack

2020—The Year of Pups? Options, Benefits, Risks…Oh My!
by Lori Schmidt, wolf curator, International Wolf Center

I’ve been recently reminded of this statement: “Options, benefits, risks. Select the option that gives you the greatest amount of benefit with the least amount of risk.” This process applies to
nearly every decision made by those in the profession of wildlife care.

Member Profile

Can One Person Influence a New Generation? Yes!
by Chad Richardson

As an airline pilot, Eric Bagelmann gets pretty good deals on flights. So after seeing a  documentary about Yellowstone National Park on PBS about 10 years ago, he didn’t hesitate to board a plane to Bozeman, Montana. He wanted to learn more about the wolves he’d seen on  that broadcast.

Wolves of the World

From Antiquity to Modern Times, Wolves Present Scientists with Opportunities to Learn
by Tracy O’connell

A frozen canid specimen has scientists puzzled, many media are reporting. Is this young animal a dog or a wolf? It was discovered in 2018 by locals seeking the discarded tusks of wooly  mammoths—those prehistoric behemoths that resembled shaggy elephants—near the Indigirka River in Siberia, northeast of the world’s coldest city, Yakutsk. Described variously as located in a frozen tunnel or in a lump of frozen ground, the pup in question has been preserved in ice for 18,000 years, according to radiocarbon dating.

While much is said about the manner in which human incursions into wilderness areas have negatively impacted the wildlife that lives there, research reminds us that humans bringing domestic livestock into areas of sparse natural prey can also lead to a population boom for predators in that region.

A motorist shot a video showing a wolf in a portion of France in which the canid has not been seen in nearly 100 years. As reported in The Telegraph, the wolf was sighted near the border between Charente and Dordogne in southwestern France. France is a nation where more than 500 wolves exist from the eastern plains to near Paris, and attacks on livestock result in protests by farmers and shepherds. In response to farmer concerns, a cull level of up to 19 percent has  been set for 2020 to keep wolf numbers in check.

A plan to track the wolves that follow three caribou herds on the Barren Grounds of the Northwest Territories (NWT) was ready to launch, if approved, in February 2020. The firstof-its-kind study would investigate wolf presence and predation in the Bathurst, Bluenose East and Beverly/Ahiak herds, where caribou decline has been a concern. The previous winter, the territorial government offered enhanced harvesting incentives for hunters to cull wolves, reducing the pressure on caribou herds. Collaring 30 wolves over the next five years, 10  associated with each of the three caribou herds, will be a measure intended to determine the degree of wolf recovery achieved.

It has been five years since the German government moved to convert 62 Cold War-era military bases into wildlife refuges, increasing the amount of protected wildlife area by more than 76,000 acres and enlarging the existing refuge footprint by 25 percent.

Within the space of a year, the wolf population has doubled here. According to the latest estimates at least seven wolf packs live in the mountainous country compared to four in the previous year, causing researchers to estimate there are now between 60 and 70 wolves in Switzerland.

Scientists have found that Indian gray wolves have four distinct vocalization patterns. Called a first-of-its-kind study by the Hindustan Times, the research paper entitled “Characterizing the Harmonic Vocal Repertoire of the Indian Wolf” was published in the international peer-reviewed research journal Plos One last October. It is based on the analysis of 270 recorded vocalizations from wild and captive Indian gray wolf populations, taken between November 2015 and June 2016.

New research conducted by Warsaw University and reported by the Polish news media outlet The First News, maps the DNA of Polish wolves and presents what it calls their “dynamic expansion west.”

Personal Encounter

Giving “Neighborhood Watch” a New Meaning
by Johnnie Hyde

The January full moon bounced off the snow in brilliant sparkles, like a reflection of the sky full of stars above. I was skiing the four miles from my car to our cabin through a Minnesota Arrowhead winter-wonderland nightscape that no photo or artist could adequately capture;  you’d need to be there to feel the tingling chill on your cheeks and hear the squeaky crunch of the snow under your skis.

I didn’t need a headlamp to find my way, even in the thick forest where moon shadows darkened the trail. But when I noticed tracks, I switched it on so I could check the details. Sure enough—the crisp imprint of large canid feet indicated that the resident wolf pack had used the trail a short time ago. A bit farther on, a steaming scat let me know just how short a time that was. And then the howling started.

A Look Beyond

Colorado’s Western Slope is Prepping for Wolves
by Elizabeth Stewart-Severy

Since Colorado’s last wild wolves were killed in the 1930s, a few lone animals have been spotted in the state. So, when a pack appeared in northwest Colorado—several months before Colorado voters decide (in November 2020) whether they’ll support a bill to reintroduce gray wolves to the state—it wasn’t a surprise to Carbondale ecologist Delia Malone.

“It does give life to the idea that Colorado has ample suitable habitat for wolves,” said Malone, a member of the science advisory team for the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project, which hopes to reestablish a sustainable population of wolves in Colorado.


Pups Growing Up

When wolf pups are born, they’re very weak, and they must rely on their mother and their pack mates in order to survive. The mother and other adult pack members provide the pups with food, shelter and warmth until they’re old enough to become active members of the wolf pack.
Visit our Wildkids section.

Book Review

Yellowstone Cougars: Ecology before and during Wolf Restoration
Book Review by Debra Mitts-Smith

In his foreword to Yellowstone Cougars: Ecology before and during Wolf Restoration, Dr. David Mech writes that 40 years ago, when he was working to return wolves to Yellowstone, a carnivore comparable in size to the wolf was already present in Yellowstone: the cougar. Today, as wolves and cougars vie for the same prey (elk and deer) and share the same landscape, questions arise about how these two species interact and compete for resources.