Lakota has shed the least so far this spring. Staff continue daily brushing to encourage the wolves to loose their dense undercoat. As the weather gets warmer, it's critical that the older animals keep cool. The sprinkler hose is working well, and Lakota is often on the top of the den boxes getting a mist of water from the hoses. Yesterday, when the wolf curator was cleaning the stock tank in their enclosure, Lakota stole the sponge from the cleaning bucket, and created an intensive defensive lip curl and growl when the curator took the sponge back. Even though they're 13 years old, it doesn't mean they're beyond the point of taking possession of unguarded objects. We seem to remember writing this in the log a year ago when she played tug of war with the garden hose, guess we didn't learn. Wolves are wolves, don't be lulled into a false sense of security that you've known them for 13 years and they won't behave like wolves.

When the time comes to photograph for the logs, the Retired Pack can be the most challenging. Lakota often races around the enclosure at such a rate, that it is difficult to follow her with the camera. The den boxes which give the wolves added comfort, make filming a challenge. This week, a treat of beaver feet were given to the Retired wolves, to aid in filming and as a stimulating reward. By the complete consumption, it appears that they like the taste as well.

The logs this week will all contain the same text… Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow. A spring snowstorm dumped nearly 30 inches of snow on the Ely area on Saturday and Sunday, leaving the wolf care staff to shovel, clean gates, blow snow, clean cameras, uncover heated waterers and pick up dead branches from trees that couldn’t support the weight of the wet snow. The wolves enjoyed the snow, although a few of the branches startled Maya. It’s not unusual for a spring snowstorm, but with temperatures usually in the 40’s and 50’s they go quickly. This time, the weather forecast doesn’t predict much above 40 degrees this week, and there are a few more days of snow predicted. Enjoy the webcams; I’m sure you will see the wolves romping through the snow.

The retired wolves are doing well, even though the snow is much harder for them to navigate due to their age. The other challenging thing with so much snow is that fence heights are getting shorter, especially in the retired pack…but older hips are not likely to support any jumping behavior, and life is good in the Retired Pack, they get extra meals, a warm dry den box with straw and a daily dose of nutritional supplements that keep them feeling good.

Lakota and MacKenzie had two treats in honor of their 15th birthday. On Monday, April 28th, the actual day that we celebrate as their birthday, they shared a bag of dried cranberries. Wolves have a bit of a sweet tooth, even in the wild; you can occasional blueberries in wolf scat. We don’t make a habit of this because we did have an issue a few years ago when Lakota over indulged on raspberries that she picked on the edge of the enclosure, but it is a good treat. The second treat came in the form of a roasting hen that they received as their mid-week meal. What a difference a few days can make, the photo of Lakota digging in the snow for berries was a Monday photo, the photo of MacKenzie carrying the chicken in a nearly snow free enclosure was a Wednesday photo.

Staff noticed a limp on Lakota's back leg early last week. Since then, she has been treated with an anti-inflammatory, and seems to be improving. As you will see in the video, it still appears as if she is splaying her back feet out. This may be in response to pain, or it may be an indication of something more significant. We will keep you posted. We don't introduce the pups to the retired wolves, since we don't want the Exhibit Pack to associate the pups with the retireds. There's some history of aggression between Mac and Shadow, and we don't want the pups rejected because Shadow sees the association with MacKenzie.

Part I As I wrote in last week’s logs, “Since then, she has been treated with an anti-inflammatory, and seems to be improving. As you will see in the video, it still appears as if she is splaying her back feet out. This may be in response to pain, or it may be an indication of something more significant. The improvement we saw was from the pain killer, by the time we came back from picking up the pups (2 days later), we observed something more significant, a growth on the bottom of Lakota’s paw. After a vet check, it was determined that surgery was the only option. On Friday, May 16th, we drugged Lakota and took her to the Ely Vet Clinic and had a 2 inch benign tumor removed from the bottom of her paw. The tumor grew quickly and had caused significant irritation to the bottom of her pad. Concerned about the issues of stitches on the bottom of her pad in a dirt environment and the possibility of her ripping her stitches, the Vet asked us to keep her inside the lab for a few days with the bandage on, and under 24 hour surveillance.

Lakota is doing well, she has not really started to shed yet, but staff are brushing to encourage the process. She is very alert to the activities within the wolf lab and she continues to retain a good sense of sight and hearing, despite reaching the age of 14.

Lakota is having a good season, there's been no indication of the facial growth returning, the growth on her leg has not increased in size in the last several months and she continues to race around the enclosure during staff visits. As you may know, the retired pack turns 15 in April, this is a real milestone for the Center and the wolf care staff.

After a big snowfall, it’s time to replenish the straw piles that provide a warm comfortable place to rest. The den boxes stay warm and dry, but wolves prefer to sleep outdoors. In this week’s video clip, you will see Lakota investigating a new straw bale as it’s put in the corner of the enclosure.