First Wolf Pack in 100 Years Forms in California

The pups of the Shasta Pack in California.  Image Source: CDFW.

The pups of the Shasta Pack in California. Image Source: CDFW.

Trail cameras near the one which captured evidence of a lone wolf in Siskiyou County, California, in May and July have recorded evidence of five pups, which appear to be a few months old, and two adults.  The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has christened the group the Shasta Pack.

Because of the proximity to the original trail camera locations, it is likely that the adult photographed in May and June is a member of this family group.

“This news is exciting for California,” said Charlton H. Bonham, CDFW director. “We knew wolves would eventually return home to the state and it appears now is the time.”

California has not had a wild wolf population since the early 1900sOR-7, a male wolf dispersing from Oregon, briefly passed through California in late 2011, but eventually left the state and is now the breeding male of the Rogue Pack in southern Oregon.

Gray wolves are listed as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (as of 2014) and are also listed as endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act.  Gray wolves in California are protected by both these laws, making it illegal to harass, harm, hunt or kill them in that state.

The CDFW is completing a draft wolf management plan for the state and will release it soon.

The original article may be found here.

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Join Us for “The Human-Animal Bond” with Beth Duman in March 2016!


“The Human-Animal Bond – Exploring New Dimensions in Training”

March 11-13, 2016

Current research is showing us that wolves and dogs have mental gifts far surpassing our earlier expectations. This interactive, hands-on seminar/workshop will explore new ways we can relate more effectively and build stronger bonds with our canine companions while improving our teaching skills. We’ll explore mimicry training (“Do as I Do” and “Like Me”), platform work, teaching veterinary handling, Bond-Based Choice Teaching® and other cutting-edge ways of communication.

The seminar/workshop will include multiple opportunities to mingle with the wolves as well as time to practice new skills with Wolf Park staff dogs. Register early as space is limited!

Sign up today!

Beth Duman received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and has over 30 years of experience in canine behavior, physiology, and ecology. She has worked extensively with domestic dogs, wolf/dog hybrids, captive wolves and has also researched wild wolves.

Wolf Park’s behavior seminars are unforgettable, one-of-a-kind experiences with knowledgeable staff and socialized wolves.  They are incredible ways to jump start a career with animals or to add knowledge or new techniques to an established career.  If you’ve never been to one, now’s the time!  Sign up now on our web site, call (765) 567-2265, or email for more information.

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Ground Breaks on Alison Franklin Animal Care Center Thursday, August 13

Clearing ground for the Alison Franklin Animal Care Center.  Photo: Monty Sloan

Clearing ground for the Alison Franklin Animal Care Center. Photo: Monty Sloan

Work is about to start on Wolf Park’s newest addition, an on-site veterinary care center which will allow for significantly improved care for the animals.  The Alison Franklin Animal Care Center, named after the late wife of one of Wolf Park’s longest-standing supporters, will officially begin construction Thursday, August 13 at 4:00 pm.  The public is invited to attend.  (Regular admission applies.)

The facility, funded via a generous $200,000 donation by Ed Franklin, will be equipped with a surgical suite and indoor and outdoor recovery areas, and will also have facilities for hand-rearing of wolf pups.  Wolf Park also plans to use the facility for the education of veterinary students, working in collaboration with the Park’s veterinarian.

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Trail Camera Spots 2nd Gray Wolf in California


The second wolf to enter California in four years appears on a trail camera.  Photo source: California Department of Fish & Wildlife

California state wildlife officials have evidence that a wild gray wolf may be roaming Siskiyou County, the second wolf to visit the state in the last four years.  California has not had a wild wolf population since the early 1900s.

After receiving reports earlier this year of possible sightings of a large dark canid, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife set up a number of remote trail cameras in the southeastern area of the county.  In May 2015, one camera captured an image of something which resembled a wolf, but an examination of feces found in the area proved inconclusive.

In June, biologists studying deer at a separate location found a track which appeared to have been made by a wolf, and placed another trail camera.  On July 24, biologists downloaded photos from that camera which featured a large, wolf-like canid.  The animal in the images appears to be a gray wolf.  The biologists do not believe there is more than one wolf in the area at this time.

The route taken by OR-7 on his way from Oregon into California.  Image source:

The route taken by OR-7 on his way from Oregon into California. Image source:

The sighting comes a little more than a year after OR-7 sparked excitement by wandering briefly thorough the same area of California.  OR-7 was first detected in California in December 2011.  A wild wolf wearing a tracking collar, OR-7 originally dispersed from a pack in Oregon.  He then moved between California and Oregon for three years before taking a territory, and a mate, in Oregon.  He is now the breeding male of the Rogue Pack, the first wolf pack in western Oregon.  OR-7’s forays into California marked the first time in 90 years a wolf was known to be living in the wild in the Golden State.

OR-7 on May 3, 2014. Photo source: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

OR-7 on May 3, 2014. Photo source: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

The new wolf captured on camera is definitely not OR-7.  OR-7 is a gray-phase gray wolf (with typical, agouti fur) and the new wolf is a black-phase gray wolf, with black fur.  (Fur color in wolves is like hair color in humans: it’s just a color.)  Since the new wolf is not wearing a tracking collar, the state has to rely on trail cameras, scat and tracks to follow the animal’s travels.  The new wolf likely, like OR-7, dispersed from a pack in Oregon.  Only time will tell if it chooses to settle in California, or returns to its home state.

Wolves were placed on California’s endangered species list just last year. The state is close to releasing a draft wolf management plan for public comment.

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Evidence emerges that African and Eurasian golden jackals (Canis aureus) are two distinct species


The African golden jackal (left) is more closely related to wolves than jackals, and should be considered a separate species from the Eurasian golden jackal (right), scientists argue. Photo sources (L to R): D. Gordon, E. Robertson; Eyal Cohen

Both Eurasia and Africa are home to populations of animals known as “golden jackals” (Canis aureus).  Visually, they are extremely similar; genetically, however, they appear to be very distinct.

After analyzing DNA collected from both populations of jackals (as well as wolves and other related canids), Klaus-Peter Koepfli of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C. and his colleagues argue that the populations are two distinct species, with the African population more closely related to gray wolves and coyotes than to jackals. They argue that the African species should be considered a “new” species of wolf, and renamed African golden wolves (Canis anthus).

Read the original article (in the journal Current Biology) here:

Original source article:

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Internships Available at Wolf Park

WP316400-volunteerrachelgreetskiriInterested in a career working with animals?  There is no better way to get experience than with an immersive, hands-on adventure at a working wildlife facility.  Experience every part of a full-time job at a non-profit animal facility, including:

  • Behavioral Training- practical skills and application of positive reinforcement, clicker training, mark and capture.
  • Animal Husbandry- feeding, medicating, health observation, maintenance of enclosures, and environmental enrichment.
  • Safe Handling Practices- Ethology and identifying behavioral cues.
  • Teamwork and Independence- Interns will have a variety of tasks over the course of their stay that may require them to work as a team as well as other tasks that will require them to work independently.
  • Interpersonal Skills- Interns will gain experience within their duties to learn skills such as prioritizing, decision making, multitasking, as well as learning your limits and pushing beyond them.
  • Non-profit Business Management- includes areas in marketing, grant writing, fundraising, networking, outreach, and membership coordination.
  • Public Relations- Interns will interact and work with the public by working customer service in our gift shop, giving tours, and answering visitor questions.
  • Research Experience- Interns may have the opportunity to observe research that is currently being conducted by visiting researchers, with the direct permission of each researcher. During the months of January and February interns will participate in our in house observational research. Interns are trained and prepared to conduct our breeding season watch behavioral research.
  • Daily Operations of a Non Profit- Interns will be asked to assist in the following areas: office/clerical, maintenance of grounds, manual labor, retail and admissions.

Wolf Park accepts internship applications year round.  Applicants are often college students, but student status is not required.  Applicants must be 18 or over.  For more information, visit our web site, call our office at (765) 567-2265, or click here.

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Washington State Wolf Update – May 2015

Source: Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife

Wolf Packs in Washington as of March 2015.  Source: Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife

A recently-released update on wolf management in the state of Washington indicates that local packs may be shifting territories, and that the presence of wolves is currently not having detectable impacts on the state’s ungulate/big-game herds.  Numbers of elk, moose, and mule deer appear to be increasing.

Also, only a small percentage of packs (12% on average) are known to be predating upon livestock.  Most of these are in the northeastern area of the state.

In 2014, there were 32 wolf-livestock depredation investigations (page 27).  Of these:

  • 7 were found to have been caused by wolves
  • 7 were caused by other wild carnivores (cougar, coyote)
  • 1 was caused by an other, unknown predator
  • 12 were unknown/undetermined causes (e.g., natural death)
  • 5 had other causes (1 ravens/eagles; 4 “structural”)

There are currently 14 radio collared wolves active in Washington, including members of the Salmo, Goodman, Diamond, Smackout, Dirty Shirt, Huckleberry, Profanity, Lookout, Teanaway and Tucannon packs.

The 2014 Annual Survey of Wolves in Washington may be found here.
The 2014 Wolf Conservation and Management Annual Report may be found here.
The official Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife wolf conservation site is located here.

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Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project – May Updates Available

Captive Mexican gray wolf.  Photo taken at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in 1998.  Photo source: Monty Sloan.

Captive Mexican gray wolf. Photo taken at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in 1998. Photo source: Monty Sloan.

The May 2015 status report updates for the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program in Arizona and New Mexico are out and are available here. Read about the activities of each tracked wolf pack and keep up to date on events and public presentations.

At the end of May 2015 the wild Mexican gray wolf population consisted of 52 wolves with functional radio collars dispersed among 19 packs and three single wolves.  Pup counters have so far noted 22 pups produced by five packs, including the Dark Canyon Pack and the Prieto Pack in New Mexico.

Current events and updates for the project are available here.

Past updates, including the 2012 annual report and 2014 and 2015 population survey results, are available here.

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Watermelon Party Saturday, July 4!

journalcourierad6-16-15-watermelonWolf Park doesn’t celebrate Independence Day with fireworks because our wolves do not like the loud noises.  Instead, we celebrate summer with watermelon!  Watch our wolves, foxes, and coyotes enjoy cool watermelons stuffed with animal-safe treats on Saturday, July 4, from 1:00-5:00 pm!

Can’t attend in person? You can buy your favorite animal a watermelon remotely and receive a photo of him/her consuming the treat!

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Dharma – April 27, 2010 – June 9, 2015

Dharma Dharma was born in 2010 at the New York State Zoo in Watertown, NY.  She was brought, with the rest of her litter of nine, to Wolf Park to be socialized and to become one of our ambassador wolves.  She was the shy pup in her litter, but, as she grew older, Dharma blossomed into an outgoing, affectionate wolf that seemed at times to have an infinite capacity for making human friends. Known as “our little Diva”, she consistently influenced people to get exactly what she wanted. “Hello,” she would say, “would you like to share my personal space and scratch me here? Don’t stop.”  Her infectious canine grin was totally endearing.

Although we expected many more years with Dharma, her life came to a sudden end on June 9th.

At some point between the evening of Monday, June 8, and the morning of Tuesday, June 9, Dharma, Kanti, Bicho and Fiona, for reasons unknown to us, were highly motivated to escape their respective enclosures, which we believed to be secure. (They remained within our perimeter fencing the entire time.)  Animal care staff quickly worked together to retrieve the wolves. Kanti, Bicho and Fiona came promptly to us and let themselves be led to another enclosure, but Dharma was not immediately visible.

A search party found her standing in some bushes, with fight wounds that looked painful. Our regular veterinarian, Dr Julia Becker, was out of state but was contacted by phone and she made arrangements with Purdue Small Animal Clinic to have Dharma brought to them. A wonderful team, headed by ER DVM Paula Johnson, worked on Dharma all day and into the evening. Dr. Becker arrived home in the early evening and stayed with us at the vet school waiting room, talking to the Purdue vets and to us.

The news got steadily worse throughout the day. While none of the injuries were individually life threatening, cumulatively they were too much even for Dharma. We had been making plans for a convalescent process, but it became apparent to all of us that euthanasia was the only remaining kindness we could give our little diva. It was with heavy hearts and with many tears that we said goodbye. Dharma left us surrounded by friends and those that loved her dearly.

Even when they live into their mid or late teens, it feels like the lives of our canine friends are never long enough. Dharma was only five years old, and it feels as though we are missing out on many years we should have had with her.  The pain of her loss will be with us for a long time.

We should shortly have a longer eulogy/retrospective look at Dharma’s life up on our website (in the memory garden section, where we recall old friends who are no longer with us).

Wolf Park would like to send a heartfelt thank you for trying to save our little girl, both to the doctors and staff at Purdue Small Animal Clinic and to Dr. Becker.

We are assessing our enclosures, which have held the wolves securely for years, to make them more secure and help prevent the occurrence of further events. Any donations made in Dharma’s name will go towards medical costs and enclosure security improvements.

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