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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Brew on the Bridge May 30!

Wolf Park & People’s Brewery Present:

May 30, 2015

11221654_10152935631836589_4738528587149841090_nWolf Park is partnering with the People’s Brewery and 3 Lane Hill for a special outdoor concert in the park! Alcohol will be provided by People’s Brewery. Alcohol is $5 per pint and you must show I.D. to be served.

PeoplesBrewingCoCirclelogo3Don’t drink? No problem! Come out, enjoy some BBQ and listen to some great music under the stars.  Other drinks available for only $1!  The band will perform starting at 7:30 pm. Will the wolves ‘sing’ along? You have to be here to find out! Advance tickets are on sale for only $10. Get yours today at our online gift shop!!

Pulled beef will be served with buns & chips for only $5.

Bring along your own chairs or blankets to enjoy the musical performance.

Safety is our priority so please drink responsibly!

Advance Tickets Online Only $10
Tickets at the door $12
All Ticket Sales Final (No Refunds)
No Rain Date

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Denali National Park’s 2015 Research Report Available


Most recent map of Denali National Park wolf pack home ranges. (Source: NPS)

Read about current wolf monitoring programs and research at Denali National Park here:
(The wolf information starts at page 34.)

In March 2015, 52 wolves were counted in Denali, an estimated density of 2.8 wolves per 1,000 square kilometers, the lowest population density estimate since monitoring began in 1986.  The apparent decline can be blamed partly on improved monitoring techniques, but the population is also actually declining from levels seen in 2001-2003, when it was approximately 6 wolves per 1,000 square kilometers.

Nine collared adult wolves died during 2014-2015, most apparently of natural causes.  One adult was legally shot by a trapper outside of the park.  One wolf was caught in a snare set outside the park.  In March 2015, two additional wolves were legally shot by a hunter outside the park near the Stampede Trail.

Since 2010, trapping has been allowed in all areas bordering the park.  In that same year, Denali National Park began a study of wolf movements, wolf survival, and wolf viewing opportunities along the Denali Park Road.  They plan to use the information gathered to inform the National Park Service concerning how wolf management practices outside the park boundaries can affect wolf populations (and thus wolf sightings) inside the park.  Learn more about the Denali Wolf Viewing Project, which helps measure how often wolves are sighted in the park, here.

13 wolves (11 new, 2 recollars) were caught and radio collared in March 2015.  These wolves were fitted with newly-designed radio collars with accelerometers which enable researchers to map the animals’ activity (such as walking, running, or resting).  Some of the research done to create these collars was done at Wolf Park!

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Pair of Mexican Gray Wolves Released into Wild

Rim pack female (AF1305) just prior to capture at Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in New Mexico and transport for release in Arizona Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Rim pack female (AF1305) just prior to capture at Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in New Mexico and transport for release in Arizona
Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Two captive Mexican gray wolves, previously living at the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in New Mexico, have been released into the wild as part of the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program.

The Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team released M1130 and F1305 into a “soft release” enclosure in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest on April 23.  The wolves will remain in that enclosure until they chew through the fence and self-release.  This allows them to acclimate to the area while still protected from other animals by the enclosure fence.  The IFT will provide supplemental food in the area while the wolves learn to catch their own food.  The provision of supplemental food will also encourage the wolves to establish their new territory in the area of release.

F1305 is the Rim Pack breeding female, who was captured in January and paired with M1130, a more genetically-diverse male who was born at the California Wolf Center in 2008.  Researchers believe F1305 is currently pregnant and are hopeful about her ability to successfully raise a litter with M1130’s help.

There are now more than 100 Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest, all part of a reintroduction program which started in 1998.  The population is still listed as “nonessential, experimental” and thus the animals are not protected by the Endangered Species Act.

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Marion – April 20, 1998 – April 22, 2015

Marion and Blue SkyMarion was peacefully euthanized on the evening of April 22nd, having just turned 17.  What looked like an “ouchy walk” (just a little hitch in the gitalong) turned, over the course of a few days, into increasing loss of control and then paralysis in her hindquarters. Pending the outcome of a necropsy, we think that there was something unfixably wrong in Marion’s central nervous system.

Marion was born to Karin and Seneca in 1998 and was the longest-lived of her age-mates. She grew up and entered the pack with three foster siblings: Tristan, Erin, and Maya.  (Her biological littermates, Ingo, Ojeesta, and Skennen, were donated to other facilities when they were around three months old.)  As a puppy she was outgoing, a forceful personality who had to be involved in whatever was happening. As she grew up she eventually acquired the nickname “Marion the Barbarian” because she ruled most of the other wolves, both males and females, with an iron paw. Seneca was the only wolf that was not intimidated by her.  Visitors used to ask how such a tiny wolf could dominate wolves who were much larger. “She’s only little on the outside” was our stock answer.

She chewed the rear ends of a succession of wolves: her foster sisters Maya and Erin; her mother Karin; the big males Apollo, Chetan and Miska.  She would get up from a sound sleep, stretch, shake herself, and then trot off in search for someone to poke.  Anyone being inattentive risked having Marion suddenly pop up from behind a bush, displaying a big grin full of pointy teeth.  A number of wolves spent time with their rear ends hidden in huts or submerged in the lake to protect themselves from her teeth.  We (jokingly!) contemplated giving Marion a baboon of her very own to play with, so she could be on the receiving end of one of those toothy grins.


Tristan reads Marion the riot act.

She had an ongoing brotherly feud with Tristan.  Once Tris got bigger than Marion, he found that he could interrupt her tantrums by bowling her over with his mass and almost literally sitting on her.  Once he realized he could flatten her, he began enjoying doing so.  He (possibly intentionally, possibly not) rescued a lot of wolves from her in his enjoyment of standing on her head.  When he saw Marion “putting on her barbarian hat”, Tris would slowly walk between Marion and her target, standing side-on to her, showing off his impressive bulk.  Marion grew to respect his “throwing his weight around”, but later found a way around it — she found that she could use the presence of Seneca, the alpha male, to inhibit Tris’ willingness to fight back.  When Tris tried to sit on her, Marion would attract Seneca’s attention, and then Tristan would be forced to explain his behavior to Seneca while Marion went on her merry way.


Tristan “explains himself” to Seneca, while Marion “helps”.

We eventually split the main pack, leaving Marion with the big, sturdy brothers Miska and Seneca.  She still tried to poke Miska, but he was twice her size and, partially backed up by his brother Seneca, he learned to, well, if not actually like her, to coexist with her peacefully.  Marion enjoyed living with them, but got somewhat lonely; the brothers did not have a lot of humans in their social circle and Marion’s “human time” was somewhat curtailed while they lived together.  Marion enjoyed visiting with humans, sometimes a little too much, and was particularly fond of face licking.  This could lead to Moments of Excitement(tm) when a human-starved Marion, temporarily separated from Miska and Seneca, got to meet her first new humans in weeks.  She would get so excited while greeting face to face she would lose control and try to stuff herself up her human visitor’s nose, feet first.


Marion contemplates chomping Seneca on the butt. Even he was not immune.

Marion taught Wolf Park staff a lot about high-intensity, easily aroused animals.  As a highly-strung young lady, she could get overstimulated by situations (such as greeting new humans) and go from “zero to 100″ in under a second, suddenly running out of patience and brain cells and exploding in a cloud of high-pitched squeaking noises, a grabby little mouth, and flailing feet.  It wasn’t necessarily aggressive behavior, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience for the humans.  We learned a lot of ways to “defuse” these moments before they occurred.  Monty, especially, used to like winding Marion up and then winding her down, using her squeaking to let him know how excited or relaxed she was.  It gave us (and Marion) a lot of practice controlling situations which could potentially be exciting.

Marion was one of the fastest canine learners we have ever seen.  She was a nimble explorer who helped us to improve not only our handling techniques, but our containment methods.  She was always the first to open the loosely-latched gate, climb the low-hanging tree branch, or wiggle under the one loose spot in the fence.  Bold and inquisitive, she was the first to open (or at least pee on) the Halloween pumpkin and the first to climb into the Christmas tree.  She stole Pat’s hat and Monty’s sunglasses, and everyone learned a lot trying to trade to get them back.

She helped prove that wolves can be at least as good as dogs at reading human social cues. In this last year she was participating in “smart collar” calibration as part of a project to study the energy budgets of large predators. We have footage of Marion on the treadmill – she was the first of our wolves to walk on it while it was moving. Researcher Caleb Bryce can be heard saying “Marion, you rock!” on the video.  Marion certainly did “rock”.  She was a brilliant, active and athletic wolf.   Wolves like Marion are not always easy to live with but they are some of our best and most memorable teachers.

Marion, we will never forget you!

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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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