Article: Wolves and Trophic Cascades by Doug Smith

2007_05_08_leopold_hunting_sequence_24-smallCheck out the new article on our web site — Wolves and Trophic Cascades: What is All the Controversy About?, written by Doug Smith of the Yellowstone wolf project!

Photo source: Doug Smith

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Vote for Us on the Trail of Scarecrows at Prophetstown State Park!

2014-prophetstown-scarecrowWolf Park has a scarecrow on the Trail of Scarecrows at Prophetstown State Park!

You can support Prophetstown State Park’s interpretive services by “liking” your favorite scarecrow picture in the Facebook photo album linked below. There will be no cost to you – an anonymous individual will donate a penny for each “like” of a scarecrow up to a total of $100.00. That’s up to 10,000 likes, so vote and share this with all your friends so THEY can vote, too! Which is YOUR favorite scarecrow? (It’s ours, right?!?) You have until November 9th to vote and share!

Click here to see all the scarecrows!

Click HERE to go right to Wolf Park’s scarecrow!  (Don’t forget to click “like”!)

Come visit our scarecrow (and its many friends) at the Trail of Scarecrows at Prophetstown State Park!  While you’re there, you can also vote for your favorite scarecrow with your pennies (or nickels or dimes or quarters) at the park gatehouse! All donations support the interpretive programs at Prophetstown.

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2015 Wolf Park Calendars Are Here!

Spend 2015 with your favorite wolves, foxes, and coyotes from Wolf Park with the new Wolf Park Calendar!

Click here to buy your calendar today!

Featuring 13 months of glorious full color photos taken at Wolf Park by renowned photographer Monty Sloan, including a fantastic image of Fiona giving paw while surrounded by a double rainbow as the cover, this wall-style calendar (8.5″ x 11″ folded, 11 x 17″ unfolded) will remind you all year long about the fantastic and interesting world of wolves.

Full of animal facts, holidays and important Wolf Park dates, this calendar will keep you up to date with happenings at Wolf Park.  Pick one up today to be sure you have a howling good year!

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Scenes From the 2014 Walk for Wolves

Marion a the Starting LineThe sixth annual Walk For Wolves, held on September 27, 2014, featured picture perfect weather, wonderful packs of walkers led by Marion on the first lap, sweet music by Scott Greeson and Trouble With Monday, great food from Sgt. Preston’s Outpost, face painting, and Silly Safaris with big birds and big bugs and furry animals to pet.

Check out some highlights in the video below!

Don’t forget to save the date — the seventh Walk for Wolves is September 26, 2015!


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Ember: Spring 2000 – September 12, 2014


in the full moonlight of autumn at the hour when I was born
                you no longer go out like a flame at the sight of me
you are still warmer than the moonlight gleaming on you
                even now you are unharmed even now perfect
as you have always been now when your light paws are running
                on the breathless night on the bridge with one end I remember you

– from the poem “Vixen”, by W. S. Merwin

Miss Ember, our last remaining red fox, has left us, only a few weeks after the passing of her sister, Miss Devon, in July – both to the collection of complications and complaints to which we refer as “old age”. Old age brings with it a storm of issues, from hormonal imbalances to loss of organ function, and as at age fourteen the girls got less and less able to cope with living outdoors in the heat we brought them into the Observation Building to enjoy the benefits of civilization and air conditioning, as well as the services of personal medical attendants. For a while Ember responded well to our supported nursing and her blood values improved, giving us hope that we were staving off renal failure. Several times volunteer Karen stayed overnight with Ember in order to monitor her. When the temperature was not too hot, Ember got to go out on walks or spend a night out in the fox habitat. When she was indoors, she pottered around, looking out windows, choosing to sleep on a heating pad or the cool floor depending on what she wanted. People brought her treats, including mice, pimentos, and mice in pimentos. People sang to her. She had a lovely last couple of months, full of affection and high-value munchies.

Unfortunately Ember’s condition deteriorated significantly the second week of September. She was not able to pee normally and our efforts to express her bladder were unsuccessful. The only way to keep her bladder from getting dangerously distended was to drain it with a needle. At this point it was clear that while we could keep Ember alive a while longer, it was at the cost of a significant loss of comfort for her and with no hope of recovery for her in the future. Sadly, we decided it was time for the final mercy we can give our animal friends when their bodies fail them. Dr. Becker came out and gently put Ember into her last sleep on the evening of September 12. The next time I see the streak of fire from a shooting star, I’ll think of her, our own little streak of fire.

Amanda and Ember

Amanda holds baby Ember (Devon is on the little pillow in the background).

Ember came to live with us along with her (foster) sister, Devon, in spring of 2000, as a tiny ball of dark brown fluff with a little white poof on the end of her tail. Less than a quarter the size of wolf pups of that age, the girls presented problems Wolf Park hadn’t seen before; notably, they could almost fit inside the human baby bottles we used for the wolves. We purchased kitten feeding bottles at the pet store and spent an exciting couple of hours in the office carefully adjusting them. The UPS delivery driver was quite surprised to be handed a bottle when he entered and asked to test the flow rate. The fox kits (all parts included) were so tiny and quiet that for a while it was safe to have a television in the nursery, and the girls got to watch “Yellow Submarine” while balanced on the stomach of a snoozing puppy mom.


Corey grooming Ember.

The girls never really knew what to do with their housemates, Basil and Corey (both males, both sterilized). Basil had grown up around humans and courted like the dandelion fluff he was, getting overexcited and overstimulated and having to run around the enclosure in circles to calm down. Corey had grown up around the stately older female fox Angel (now deceased), and at least had the vague idea that courtship in the fox world had little to do with sitting on the head of one’s intended. He and Ember, the two red phase foxes, paired up, inasmuch as foxes do. They slept within a few feet of each other while apparently studiously ignoring each other, coming together occasionally to groom. Corey sometimes brought Ember gifts of food, feeling perhaps that that was the sort of thing you do when you are a young male fox who knows a young female fox, but the relationship apparently ended there. (Of course, in late February, when interns were out watching the wolves during wolf breeding season, fox breeding season was going on as well – and we heard lots of yelling and screaming coming from the fox enclosure. The lights were not on in the enclosure at the time, so we never saw exactly what was happening. Neither Corey nor Ember ever told us what they were up to, and when daylight came they were politely, possibly affectionately, ignoring each other again….)

The girls were always fond of snacks, and would spend time “trading” tidbits. An intern would arrive with food, and each girl would take treats until she could no longer fit anything more in her tummy, at which point she would take just one more piece of food, run off with it, and cache it somewhere safe in the enclosure. Her sister would observe this behavior and, after caching her own piece, run to the other’s piece and dig it up, while, on the other end of the enclosure, her sister did the same thing with her piece. Of course she would have no room for this piece, either, and would cache it…then run to the other girl’s newly-cached treat, dig it up, cache it…they could trade treats in this way for a considerable amount of time.

Ember in the GrassWhere Basil was a crazy ball of squeeing fluff, Corey was a somewhat awkward and shy gentleman, and Devon was a powerful personality, Ember was a graceful and quiet lady. She was never one for high-intensity social interactions with humans; with patience, interns could feel the end of her muzzle touch them as she took treats or, possibly, trade a chin scratch for a lick. She kept her distance from groups of visiting campers and photographers but allowed them to enjoy her presence, sometimes sneaking around behind them for a sniff or settling just in front of them to remind them that, right now, they were somewhat less interesting than her left leg. She was a great reminder that, no matter how carefully one raises a wild animal, they remain just that: wild. They have their own goals and desires, and it is ultimately their choice whether to associate with us or not. We are flattered that she chose to associate with us.

Good bye Ember. We will never forget you.

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Federal Protection Restored for Wyoming Wolves

Kanti Running FastU.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson has restored federal protections to wolves in Wyoming, at least temporarily.

Wyoming assumed control over its wolves from the federal government in 2012 after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the wolves’ numbers had rebounded sufficiently to justify taking them off the endangered species list.  The Wyoming wolf population at the time was estimated at 350 but has declined to about 300 animals since.

Environmental groups challenged the delisting in court, saying the Obama administration violated the Endangered Species Act in ceding management of Wyoming wolves to a state plan that failed to ensure the animal’s long-term survival.  In her decision on September 23, Judge Jackson sided with conservationists in finding that the Fish and Wildlife Service erred in accepting non-binding promises by the state for maintaining wolves at certain population levels.  However, she also left intact the decision which prompted the original delisting: that the species has recovered and is not endangered or threatened in “a significant portion” of its northern Rocky Mountains range.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has already expressed intent to ask a higher court to block the judge’s order and allow the state to keep its wolf management policies intact, including licensed hunting of the animals and rules permitting some to be shot on sight.

Original article available here.


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2013 Yellowstone Wolf Report Now Available Online

Wotan Howls at SunsetThe National Park Service has published the 2013 Yellowstone Wolf Project Annual Report.  You can read the executive summary here, and download the complete official report here.

2013 Yellowstone Wolf Pack TerritoriesSome highlights:

  • 95 wolves in 10 packs, including 8 breeding pairs, lived primarily in Yellowstone in 2013.  These numbers are similar to previous years.
  • 24% of the wolf population (21 wolves) has been radio collared.
  • Pack size ranged from 2 to 18, averaging 8.6.
  • Most packs had pups, with an average of 4.6 pups per pack.  At least 41 pups survived to the end of the year.
  • State-managed wolf hunts in 2013 did not significantly affect Yellowstone wolves.
  • Incidences of mange decreased, and distemper was not a mortality factor in 2013.
  • Wolf numbers have decreased by about 45% since 2003, likely due to fewer elk.

To learn more visit these links:

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Animal Behavior Seminar with Guest Speaker Beth Duman

DX279454 - Wolf Park - smallPositive Training 101 – Learn from Wolves and Dogs

March 13-15, 2015

This energizing weekend seminar will help you become a more compassionate and empathetic partner with you canine buddy. Learn how the staff at Wolf Park has perfected gentle handling of the wolves by understanding and dealing with their sensitivities and using science-based training methods.  The weekend experience will include time to get to know and handle Wolf Park wolves, plenty of training ideas, and an environment of community sharing.

Sign up today!

Or click here for more information!

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.

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Now Accepting 2014-2015 Winter Internship Applications!

WP316400-volunteerrachelgreetskiriWorking towards a career in animal behavior, husbandry, handling or training?  Considering a PhD and want to get some experience with behavioral research techniques?  Just want to know if you have what it takes to run a wildlife facility?

Sign up now for winter 2014-2015 internship positions at Wolf Park!  We are now accepting winter applications!  (There is no fixed due date to apply, but we have limited spots and they are first come first served!)

Email our coordinator at or call our office at (765) 567-2265.  We can’t wait to meet you!

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Become a Wolf Park Volunteer!


Becoming a Wolf Park volunteer is more than a great opportunity to learn about wolves and their place in the world. It is a means of helping the cause of wildlife preservation and promoting the welfare of wolves in the wild and in captivity and furthering Wolf Park’s mission of research, education and conservation.

What are the volunteer requirements?

  • Be willing to help on a regular basis over a long period of time (months or even years)
  • Have your own transportation
  • Commit to at least 12 hours per month (more is better!)
  • Be at least 18 years old

What do volunteers do?

  • Give tours
  • Collect admission fees and staff the gift shop
  • Help clean enclosures and aid with other maintenance projects
  • Assist with crowd control and set up during special events
  • Help feed and water the animals during the week

Wolf Park will provide you with an orientation and reading materials about the Park. This will help you become acquainted with our mission, regulations, wolves and other animals. You will likely begin by taking admission or working in the Gift Shop. With time and training, you will be able to give tours, feed and water the animals, and perform other duties.

All volunteers should expect to volunteer for several weeks before going into enclosures with the animals. New volunteers will also need to listen to the lectures, and learn as much as possible about the animals. Animal time is very minimal, especially for new volunteers.

Volunteer Coordinator: Dana Drenzek –

2014 Orientation Dates (registration required):
September 6, November 1
(please bring your volunteer applications with you or e-mail them before the orientation dates)

Want to join us? Print out a volunteer application from

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