Isle Royale Wolf Population Drops to 3

The report of the 57th annual winter study of wolves and moose on Isle Royale, conducted from January to March 2015, is now available online.

Between January 2014 and January 2015, the population of wolves on the island decreased from 9 individuals to 3, pictured above, the lowest population since research began in 1959.  The three wolves are living in a single social group.  The gender and pack origin of these wolves is unknown.  One individual appears to be a nine-month-old pup and does not appear to be doing well.

It had been hoped that wolves from outside the island could move onto the island via an ice bridge which sometimes forms in the winter, connecting Isle Royale with nearby land in Minnesota or Canada.  On February 26, two wolves — one a radio collared female, one unknown — visited Isle Royale from the mainland, crossing the ice bridge.  The wolves did not stay long and did not interact with native wolves on the island.

Since 2009, the wolf population on Isle Royale has declined by nearly 90%.  Meanwhile, with predation on the island reduced, the moose population has grown at a mean rate of 22% per year.  During the most recent study, the moose population grew from 1050 to 1250.

Conservation scientists believe that predation (by wolves or other predators) is vital to the health of ecosystems inhabited by large herbivores like moose.  The National Park Service has stated that it had been considering genetic rescue of the wolf population (i.e., importing new individuals) as a means of mitigating this loss of predation on the moose population.  With only three known individuals on the island, “there is now a very good chance,” says the report, “that it is too late to conduct genetic rescue.”

The report also includes more information about Isabelle, the lone wolf who dispersed from the island in 2014 and was found shot dead on the mainland.

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Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project – March 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 March 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 March 2015 the wild Mexican gray wolf population consisted of 58 wolves with functional radio collars dispersed among 18 packs and three single wolves.  As of February 2015, more than 100 Mexican gray wolves were counted in the wild!

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.

The latest 3-month wolf population distribution map can be viewed here.

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Members Appreciation Day Saturday, April 18!

JokerWolf Park deeply appreciates our members’ loyal support all year round!  On April 18, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, we will be howling THANK YOU for everything you’ve done for us with a special Members Appreciation Day with special events!

MEMBERS ONLY will enjoy:

  • Guided behind the scenes tour
  • Caleb Bryce, researcher from the University of California at Santa Cruz, will present updates on “smart collar” research.  Begun at Wolf Park, wolves are now collared in Denali National Forest!
  • Ride in the truck to visit our bison up close and personal
  • Sneak peek at a new seminar: How To Be A Good Wolf Steward
  • See our new red foxes, Scarlette and Joker

And LUNCH IS ON US at 12 pm!

Don’t forget your membership card!  The park will be open to regular visitors from 1-5 and your card is required for participation in our special events.

Not a member yet?  Sign up today to be part of the fun!


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Suzanne Clothier Guest Seminar November 20-22, 2015!

Viva la Difference! Comparative Canid Behavior
November 20-22, 2015
Sign up today!

Suzanne-dog-medThere’s something about those canids that just draw us in. Is it the eyes that glow with amazing intelligence? Is it their social behavior that appeals to us, another social species? Whatever makes canids appealing to you, the Viva la Difference! workshop will take your understanding of canid behavior to a whole new level.

Why is a Chihuahua a good pocket wolf but a terrible estate guardian? Why would a fox make a terrible herding dog? What makes a wolf a wolf and not a coyote? What makes some breeds so darn challenging, and why are wild canids not great pets? What behaviors do dogs and wolves share?

Dogs, wolves and coyotes share many common behaviors. But there are important differences that make each species well suited to their role in Nature. From their physical conformation to what Coppinger refers to as “behavioral conformation,” each canid species is unique. Appreciating the similarities and differences enriches our understanding of canids as a whole.

We will look in depth at the structure and anatomy that underlies the behavioral differences, and the connection between the two. What are the features of domestication, and how do they differ from tameness or imprinting? Through interactions with Wolf Park’s socially imprinted foxes and wolves, we will get an up close look at how taming or imprinting modifies behavior without changing the essential nature of the animal.

Using video, hands-on exhibits and discussion we will look in detail at dog and wolf behavior in general, and more specifically, contrasted with the specifics selected for in various breeds or groups. What makes a Mastiff different from a Chihuahua is more than just size! Form, function, physiology and preferences are all affected by human selection for or against various traits.

  • This land is my land — guarding & territorial behavior
  • Why can’t we be friends? low dog/dog aggression breeds
  • Responsibilities & rules  Understanding the working dogs
  • Look into my eyes  Companion/toy breeds & neoteny
  • Controlling space  Herding breeds
  • Why? and Why Not?  The “hard to train” breeds

While each dog is an individual, selective breeding has shaped some interesting variations on “generic dog.” Learn how these differences are expressed, and why they can create confusion, frustration and conflict between dogs as well as between dogs and their humans. This fascinating look at dogs and differences will provide useful information on appreciating and enjoying each dog.

Attendees will leave with a deeper understanding of canids, new observation skills, and quite possibly the memory of a fox sitting on your shoulder or a wolf gliding by for a scratch.

Between them, Suzanne Clothier and Wolf Park’s Pat Goodmann have a lifetime of living with and working with animals of many species, with more than 60 years combined experience with canids. Their passion for and knowledge about canine behavior makes this seminar a must attend event!  Sign up today!

Viva la difference!

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Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Program 2014 Report Available

Bicho Greeting KantiThe detailed annual report on the status, distribution, and management of the Northern Rocky Mountain (Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming) wolf population is now available from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  The report also features information on wolf populations in Washington and Oregon.

Click here to view the PDF of the report summary.

Click here to view more detailed information, including the annual reports from each state.


The entire Northern Rocky Mountain wolf population (in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming) is estimated to be approximately 1,657 wolves in 282 packs including 85 breeding pairs.

  • Montana estimated 554 wolves in 134 packs with 34 breeding pairs.
  • Idaho estimated 770 wolves in 104 packs with 26 breeding pairs.
  • Wyoming estimated 333 wolves in 44 packs with 25 breeding pairs.
  • Oregon estimated 77 wolves in 15 packs with 8 breeding pairs.
  • Washington estimated 68 wolves in 16 packs with 5 breeding pairs.
  • No packs were documented in Utah.

Click here for a scalable PDF map of known wolf packs in the area in 2014.

744 wolf mortalities were recorded in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming in 2014.  706 wolves died due to human-related causes (including predator control and harvest) — amounting to approximately 16-35% of the population in each state.

Total confirmed depredations by wolves in 2014 included 140 cattle, 172 sheep, 4 dogs, 1 horse, and 1 donkey.

Private and state agencies paid $274,885.90 in compensation for wolf-caused damage to livestock in 2014.  [Editor’s note: this comes out to approximately $779.50 per animal.]

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Meet Wolf Park’s Newest Resident – Joker the Silver Fox!

JokerWolf Park welcomes its newest resident — Joker!

Joker is a silver fox — really a silver-phase red fox — who was found under a porch.  It was clear from his behavior (he was not afraid of humans) that he was not a wild fox. He was clearly an escaped (or dumped) pet fox.

Joker ended up at a wildlife rehabilitator, and from there was referred to us.  Since our female red fox Scarlette was currently without boyfriend we thought we would give him a try. More specifically, we introduced him to Scarlette, and let her decide if she should keep him.  She thinks she will!  (Joker will be vasectomized prior to breeding season in January, so there will be no offspring from this happy union.)

Joker is not as social as Scarlette but he willingly visits with humans for treats and poses for photos.  You can adopt Joker here!

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Coyote Visits Roof of New York Bar

Image source: Caitlin Cahill

Image source: Caitlin Cahill

Coyotes are some of the most adaptable animals on earth, and many have made living in urban centers their specialty.  They are so successful at it that many humans don’t even know the animals are there — until they make an unscheduled public appearance, as one coyote did on March 29 when it made a wrong turn and accidentally ended up on the roof of the L.I.C. Bar in Long Island.

The coyote was briefly pursued by police, but successfully made its escape.  Neither coyote nor bar appeared to have been damaged by the experience.

As humans encroach more and more on natural habitats, animals like coyotes, foxes, raccoons and skunks appear more and more often in urban areas.  Urban coyotes are generally benign but can become habituated to humans, and attracted to certain areas by food left out or by people actively feeding them.  They can destroy property, prey on small pets or livestock, or be a hazard to unattended young children.

Here are some hints for living with urban coyotes.  In general, don’t leave food out for wildlife, keep your trash cans tightly covered, and do not leave pets or young children unattended in areas coyotes are known to frequent.  Also, never offer to pay a coyote’s bar tab.

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Join Us For The Wolves’ Birthday Party Saturday, May 2!

Wolves and Birthday CakeSaturday May 2, 2015:
Wolves’ Birthday Party at Wolf Park
Open 1-5 pm

Wolf birthday cakes will be distributed at 2 p.m!

Join Wolf Park in a birthday celebration for all of our canids! The Wolf Park staff will give the animals their special birthday cakes on May 2nd!  Wild canids are all born in April or May due to the timing of their annual breeding season; hence, all of our animals’ birthdays are celebrated together.

Support Wolf Park and its efforts for research, education, and conservation. Just a $25 donation gets donors a photo of their favorite animal enjoying a birthday treat!

Open Hours: In April, Wolf Park is open Saturdays 1-5 pm for walking tours. Wolf Park’s open season begins May 1, when we will offer guided tours Tuesday through Sunday from 1-5 pm.

Howl Night is offered every Saturday night year round at 7:30 pm.

General admission is $8 for adults, $6 for children 6 –13, children five and under and Wolf Park Members are always free. For more information call 765-567-2265 weekdays. General park information can be found online at

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New Book on American Bison Available Online

Yellowstone Bison: Conserving an American Icon in Modern Society

Edited by P.J. White, Rick L. Wallen, and David E. Hallac

A photo of the cover for Yellowstone Bison: Conserving an American Icon in Modern Society

This book examines the history of bison conservation and management in the United States, compiles the latest scientific information about Yellowstone bison, and discusses both the opportunities for and challenges to plains bison conservation within the Greater Yellowstone Area and across their historic range. The authors outline the multi-jurisdictional partnerships tasked with successful bison management and offer a candid assessment for moving forward with bison conservation. The book is important not only for the information it provides, but for the framework it creates for engendering strong, diverse-stakeholder conservation partnerships in modern society.

Published by the Yellowstone Association, the book can be found at Yellowstone’s Official Park Stores or purchased online.

Download an electronic version [4.6MB PDF]

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Wolf Struck by Car in Grundy County, IL

Bicho Out Standing on the Frozen Pond

Pictured: Bicho from Wolf Park, who is not the wolf mentioned in this article.

A “wolf like animal” found dead along Nettle School Road, a roadway north of I-80 in Grundy County, Illinois, on February 13, 2015, has been confirmed to be a gray wolf, related to those in the Great Lakes population.  The animal bore injuries consistent with having been struck by a vehicle.

“We will get a complete report in a few weeks that will tell exactly where it came from,” said Hank Frazier of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which had DNA tests performed on the animal for identification.

According to the University of Illinois, there have been 10 confirmed gray wolf sightings in Illinois since 2000.

Another source article can be found here.  (Warning: article begins with graphic photo of the deceased animal.)

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