This entry was written by visiting Wolf Care Staff Volunteer, Cameron Feaster. Shadow’s enthusiasm can seldom be matched by any other wolf at the International Wolf Center. This is extremely apparent in the arrival of winter, when Shadow excitedly attempts to initiate chases with his brother Malik, or rolls and plows through the snow like a pup. Though, as this week’s YouTube video shows, it can sometimes be hard for a 14 year old body to keep up with such an excitable mind.

I would like to thank all of the members and donors who support our educational mission at the International Wolf Center. I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and would like to report that all of the wolves are doing well. We have some great pack interactions as the winter begins and our wolf care staff are so honored to work with these incredible ambassador wolves.

Shadow does very well with work groups as long as they don’t watch him. He was on his den for the entire 5 hour burn project and showed no concerns at all. Fire in the wild means prey are running confused, I wonder if there’s an inherent behavior of interest that’s stimulated by fire?

After Shadow spent the morning with grape Gatorade breathe (see Malik’s log), he proceeded to rest on the den with the fresh fallen snow. As much as Malik prefers the cover of some vegetation, Shadow prefers the top of the den to see all activities around the wolf yard. We have been holding off on straw on the den top until we get a dry spell of weather, possibly tomorrow. I have not received an answer from the IT staff about web streaming the surveillance cameras, so I have decided to order another wireless camera like we previously had for retirement. If the web streaming of the surveillance camera works in the future, then great. But, even though the wireless model wasn’t that reliable in snowy weather, at least it was something. I am sorry for the long delay, I wish I had IT skills, but it’s more fun to have wolf care skills.

Shadow and Malik seem to decrease their age when we get snow and cold. As arctic wolves, this does seem to be the season that stimulates them the most activity and lately, they are acting like 2-year-olds. There is no wolf on site that greets with as much enthusiasm as Shadow and we certainly see more dominance from Shadow than any other wolf. It is hard to believe that they will be 14 years old next spring.

Shadow’s howl is returning. After a summer of heat and humidity that seemed to impact his vocal cords, a cooler week has led to some good howling sessions. Shadow has also been very stimulated to eat this week and we have increased the amount of chicken and beef we are purchasing for the pack. Shadow seems more stimulated to eat than previous fall seasons and is coming into the winter in very good condition. He can be temperamental on what he eats and when. It appears we have a favorite in tubes of beef and whole chickens.

I am so sorry if my lack of posting for Shadow caused concern that something happened to Shadow. During the academic year, I teach full time at the college and I am only at the Center 30 hours a week. Well, that 30 hours a week is mostly spent with wolves, deer carcasses, invoices, USDA protocol and vet consultations leaving little time for the technology piece… Anyway, Shadow is doing exceptionally well, in fact, he is coming into this winter with more body weight and a better conformation that he has in previous winters. He’s still extremely alert to the actions in the wolf yard, and his howl is back. The Youtube for this week has several minutes of howling…

On today’s check (Sunday, post feeding), Shadow had a full belly and could barely keep his eyes open through the entire wolf check. It’s Sunday, and he will spend it on the den, sleeping in the cool, fall sunshine.

What can I say about Shadow, he is one of a kind. While Malik camps out in the dense canopy, Shadow has to have his spot on the den. There isn’t a sound, sight or smell that escapes Shadow. He is so alert to the activity of the Exhibit Pack that he seems to know there’s activity before the surveillance cameras pick up movement. Shadow is the reason why I am hoping the IT folks get the web cameras live. There is nothing like checking in on the camera and seeing Shadow in a relaxed sphynx posture (usually with his feet crossed). Just one view of Shadow and I know the pack is probably relaxed and experiencing no issues.

The logs this week are all the same. It’s been a busy week. We started with the discovery of some damage to an outside security fence behind the Retired Enclosure. It appears a wild wolf attempted to get into the secondary security fence behind the retired enclosure. There were a significant number of boards torn from the fencing with a lot of teeth marks. Surveillance video shows that it likely occurred on Sunday morning, although we don’t have a camera pointing directly at this fence, Shadow showed some tension and agitation. We had a group of students from Vermilion Community College volunteer with some invasive species removal. This is critical as the plants that they were pulling harden off with hundreds of burrs that get stuck in the wolves coats. Unfortunately, Aidan seemed to have the most stress about the work project. He was agitated while he was in holding, then after the students left and Aidan was released, he proceeded to have some fear avoidance behavior throughout the weekend. This created some interest from the other wolves that saw the dominant pack leader showing some weakness. We impose a lot of limits on activity in the wolf yard as winter approaches, but the removal of the invasive species is critical work that saves a lot of wolf frustration as staff try to pull burrs from their coat.