Staff have noticed an interesting white patch on the back of Lucas's ears. He has a striking silver tail and is turning lighter by the day. He also still enjoys a good deer or beaver head. Staff found a deer head stashed in the den box under the straw and Lucas was possessing a beaver head when photos were taken today.
Sorry for the lack of logs over the past week. The curator was at a State Wildlife Society meeting. It was a great meeting and one of the most important messages from this meeting is the need to preserve contiguous tracts of habitat for species. As the human population grows and land development occurs, we need to always plan for the greenspaces that keep wildlife populations viable. Even in a captive facility, we have a need to manage for vegetation and quality habitat. This weeks photos of Grizzer and Maya prove why this is a challenge, but the Workin' for Wolves programs and the Adults at Two Years programs that are offered this summer, will aid in the endeavor of planting more trees. So, in the interest of getting photos up on the log, all the text will be the same. For each log, all wolves are healthy and during the curators absence, they were in the capable hands of wolf care staff Jen Westlund, Matt Fetterer, Jess Edberg, Andrea Lorek Strauss and Laurie Fella.
Lucas is doing well and in good health, though he takes longer to lay down and get up due to stiffness in his joints. He was very playful and submissive during wolf care this morning, rolling over on his back when staff was touching him. As he continues to age, his pelage is getting lighter; the tip of his tail is now white. Though he is 13 years old, he still shows his dominance over Lakota.
Lucas has been a bit shy towards staff lately, but his interest in his packmates has increased. He's also been more agitated with the chasing and sometimes noisy behavior of the Exhibit pack. During the winter seasons, hormone levels tend to increase as wolves begin the breeding season. Even though the wolves at the Center have been spayed and neutered, they still display hormonal increases this time of the year. Lucas, nearing 13 years of age, still shows interest in pair bonding and defensive behavior. Thanks to Pam Dolajeck for the donation of pigs ears for the wolves.
Lucas is more social than he's been in previous weeks. It's hard to say what was bothering him, sometimes a stiff, aching body makes an animal avoid contact. The warmer weather seems to keep Lucas moving pretty smoothly.
Lucas doesn't have any deer heads to carry around or any other antics this week. He's showing more social interaction towards the newest wolf care staff member, Laurie Feela. Laurie commented that he seems to approach more when she's not standing next to the Curator. Lucas and the Curator had a very negative experience with a blood draw over 9 years ago and he's very suspect of being approached by the Curator. This is termed negative conditioning, wolves have a great memory for a negative event. If the curator wants to approach Lucas, it needs to be on his terms.
Again, we apologize for the delay in wolf logs, our intent is to post once a week, but wolf care is always the priority over every other job. These past few weeks, the facility and grounds area of wolf care has needed our attention. This season is best known as the ice season, when daytime temperatures create melting, but nighttime temperatures revert back to freezing. Conditions are slippery and hazardous, not only for the staff, but the wolves as well. Thanks to the kind donation of straw from Theresa Williams, the enclosures are getting a fresh layer of straw to increase traction. This is most problematic for the retired wolves, as any slip on the ice can affect older, more brittle bones and joints. The wolves are doing well, and are spending a significant amount of time sleeping in the sun. Lakota seems to have been up to a few other things, as she has a new canine bite on the nose. Staff seem to think the bite was from MacKenzie, but based on our interactions with Lakota, she pushes the limit with both Lucas and MacKenzie.
One behavior that is classic Lucas behavior is the pattern of carrying around deer heads after a big feeding. He doesn't necessarily eat them, just carry them around, growling a barring his teeth in defense when he approaches one of his littermates. He's been observed doing this since the Thursday night feeding and was photographed today for the wolf logs, with, you guessed it, a deer head in his mouth.
Lucas is enjoying the large quantity of meat scraps donated by local deer hunters. He likes having a spare head to carry around the enclosure. About a month ago, one of Lucas's toenails fell off. He probably caught it on a log or something running around the pen. During last October's medical exam, we noticed another nail was missing. This doesn't seem to affect his ability to maneuver around the pen.
Winter is a time for wolves to respond to the hormonal urges associated with the breeding season. Even though the Center's wolves are spayed and neutered, they still maintain some of the social behaviors termed pair bonding. In this week's photos, Lucas sniff's Lakota's coat, while MacKenzie looks on. It's usually Lucas and MacKenzie who share bonding behavior, but MacKenzie's nervous behavior seems to drive Lucas to Lakota. There seems to be no question that MacKenzie is still dominant over Lakota, no matter how nervous she is.
The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future.