Coastal Wolves of Vancouver Island

Photo by Ian McAllister

by London Wolff

Vancouver Island, north of Seattle, is homes to a very special population of gray wolves known as Coastal Wolves. They differ from the Timber and Arctic wolves in that they are about 20% smaller on average, are usually a little redder in color, live near water in the pacific northwest and, instead of hunting ungulates in packs, they hunt sea life. During the fall, a large portion of their diet consists of salmon which swims upstream from the ocean to spawn. Other parts of the year, when salmon are not as plentiful, the wolves can be seen swimming out to feast on herring eggs, digging up clams, and hunting crab. They have even been known to eat whales which have washed up on shore.

These wolves have adapted to live in a place where one of the last temperate rainforests meets the ocean. They often must transverse from small island to small island. They have been known to swim seven and a half miles between land masses.

Utilizing this niche over time has led to behavioral differences, as well as morphological and genetic changes.  These wolves have been found to be genetically distinct from their Canadian interior counterparts.

Photo by Ian McAllister

Due to human intervention, these wolves were gone from Vancouver Island in the 1960s, but then repopulated the area from populations living in the Great Bear Rainforest. If we want to keep this population thriving for decades to come, we must make a conscious effort to do so.

Last month the B.C. government put forth a proposal to increase the trapping season on Vancouver Island by two months. The trapping season is currently eight months long. They are trying to lengthen it to ten. The government proposal is less than one-page, and does not include a single piece of scientific evidence. The explanation for their decision is only two paragraphs long. In it they explain they came to there conclusion based on the anecdotal evidence of “public sightings and observations”. Trappers and hunters reported increased wolf sightings correlating with a decrease in deer sightings. Nothing is mentioned regarding deer carcass found with signs of wolves or wolf killings sighted. As previously mentioned, the wolves on Vancouver Island are significant because of their unique trait of procuring 90% of their diet from the sea.

It is estimated that there are around 250 wolves on Vancouver Island that this edict could effect. However, the government has not done any comprehensive survey work since 1994. The reasoning given for this oversight is that monitoring wolves is “costly and difficult”, especially considering its “low conservation concern status”. Unlike in the United States, the gray wolf is listed as least concern throughout the entire country of Canada which can make it hard to persuade the government to take an interest in protecting these animals.

To learn more and make your voice heard, sign and share the Save BC Wolves Petition.

Photo by Ian McAllister

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Fox Songs

Fox curator Kimber heard Scarlette making a vocalization we’ve never heard a fox make before. We’re still researching what it means, but we think it has something to do with courtship. Scarlette was kind enough to repeat the sound for the camera.

Breeding season is underway, especially among the foxes. Joker pursues Scarlette incessantly. He’d like best if she stayed quietly in a hut where he can easily keep her in sight and by his side, but Scarlette has things to do and places to be. She wants to play with her human friends, not just with Joker. She and Joker spend time apart each day to give both a breather, and give Scarlette a chance at other companionship.

Gypsum and Hunter

Gypsum and Hunter. Photo by Kimber Hendrix

In the grey fox half of the enclosure, Gypsum and Hunter are exhibiting courtship behavior. They were both fully sterilized this year so there aren’t any of those hormones, but the behavior patterns are still there. Gypsum is being especially lovey this year, both with Hunter and with his human friends. He’s much calmer than in past years. He’s been able to go out on walks, much to his delight.

Gypsum on a walk

Gypsum explores the wider world. Photo by Kimber Hendrix

Upcoming Events
Feb 10Winter Wolves
March 3Dollar Days
March 24Easter Party
April 20Cookout Howl Night
April 21Animals’ Birthday Party

Don’t forget to check out our upcoming Seminars, Photo Shoots, and Kids Camps.


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Saying Goodbye to Renki

Renki – April 12, 2004 – January 5, 2018

Renki is no longer with us. A wolf who could fairly be called a legend at Wolf Park was put to sleep on the evening of January 5th. He had been under the weather since December 24th. At first it looked as though it could be a GI infection. We hoped he would recover in a few days, but it was not to be.

Having an indoor infirmary (the Alison Franklin Animal Care Center) was wonderful. We monitored Renki around the clock during some bitterly cold days and nights. As she did after his leg amputation in 2016, Dana slept with him on the futon during night shifts. Giving him subcutaneous fluids, since he was not drinking enough on his own, in an indoor area rather than outdoors, went very smoothly because we could feel our fingers to insert the needle, and the fluid didn’t freeze in the line. Ed Franklin’s gift in memory of his wife, Alison, made a real difference!

During his last two weeks in the indoor kennel he was able to enjoy things like visiting the kitchen (on leash) and watching his pill boluses prepared with treat food. He put his nose up to the edge of the counter and stood there grinning, eyes twinkling, waiting for me to put the bolus in his mouth. He did not have much appetite, but he liked small amounts of treat food. He also enjoyed visits from human friends.

On Wednesday, 1/3 he took a turn for the worse. His breathing rate at rest and asleep was higher than normal. He lost strength and energy. He needed help to maintain a standing position and to walk around. His appetite had increased, but his loss of strength and energy was not a good sign. Dr. Becker came out on Friday for some more diagnostics and consultation. X-rays at the clinic were the next step. The x-rays showed some worrisome changes in his lungs. That and the overall change in his condition, convinced us that we had given him all the good time we could. He was humanely euthanized while Dana cuddled with him. Dr. Becker thought, and I concurred, that, while he was feeling some discomfort, he was not yet in actual pain.

We miss him dreadfully, but are glad that he will not experience further debilitation. In the 17 months since his leg amputation, he has embodied the phrase “Seize the day,” making the most of the time that operation bought him. It’s been a privilege to know him and to see him get on with life every day, even on all threes instead of all fours, and adapting to increasing hearing loss in the last year. All the time we spent with him made his last days in the animal care center much more comfortable and he was able to enjoy visiting the kitchen, having visits from human friends, and once from Ayla (who was kept on leash so she could not knock into him). Of his immediate family, he is survived by his sister, Ayla, half brothers, Wotan and Wolfgang, and niece and nephews, Fiona, Sparrow, Kanti, Bicho, Aspen, and Máni.

We will always remember you Renki.  Hail and Farewell.

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Celebrating Timber and Scarlette

Timber and Bicho practice their karate. Photo by Monty Sloan

We’re celebrating milestones at Wolf Park this week as we celebrate the ‘adoption’ dates of two of our residents. Two years ago this week, Timber came to live with us. Three years ago, Scarlette was our early Christmas present.

Scarlette in repose. Photo by Kimber Hendrix

Wolf Park is not a rescue and we typically don’t bring in adult animals, but Scarlette and Timber were special cases. Scarlette was brought to our attention just as we were looking for new red foxes to join Wolf Park’s animal residents. Raised around humans and dogs, she was a extremely well socialized, and completely unfit for life in the wild. The rescue she was living at needed to find her a forever home and we were a perfect fit. Scarlette arrived ready and willing to love all humans, make friends with the wolves… and with no idea how to be a fox. We laugh now about the way she poked her first whole carcass and gave us a look of ‘how do I get to the cream filling?’ or the way she would ‘bury’ excess food by dropping it in corners. She chased the wolves along the fence, squealing for the giant, fluffy ‘foxes’ to come and visit her. The wolves tended to salivate at the sight so there were no options for an actual meet and greet.

Scarlette and Joker. Photo by Kimber Hendrix

Joker’s arrival in the spring definitely taught Scarlette about being a proper fox. They bonded quickly and have been affectionate roommates ever since. Like her, Joker is convinced the wolves (except Timber) are future playmates. They fell in love with the wolf puppies this year. With the nursery right across from them, they had ample opportunity to monitor puppy development. They paced the fence with meat in their mouths, calling for the puppies to dine with them. A crying puppy was sure to bring the foxes running with anxious chirps to save them from harm. When the pups started taking walks past the enclosure, the foxes’ joy knew no bounds. They particularly seemed to like Sparrow, who is still often referred to as their ‘daughter’.

Scarlette and Joker excavate their den in case of puppies. Photo by Kimber Hendrix

Meanwhile, Timber was brought to our attention at a time when we were looking for unrelated wolves to join the Wolf Park lineage. Puppies had proven difficult to find so we were interested when Timber was offered to us. She’d been brought up at a facility where she’d been socialized to people and dogs. She’d spent her early life doing outreach programs in the community, but was reaching the age when she needed a home around other wolves. We were happy to give her a new home.

Timber pesters Wotan. He tolerates her better than the other wolves, but not at this moment. Photo by Monty Sloan

Unlike Scarlette, who surveyed her new territory and proclaimed herself queen of all she saw, Timber took some time to adjust to Wolf Park. She wasn’t used to so many people looking after her, and she had no idea how to handle visitors walking past on tours. She was FASCINATED by the wolves next door, particularly Wotan and Wolfgang whom she actively pursued with the wolf equivalent of ‘Hey, sailor! Want to buy a girl a drink?’ The boys seemed a little dazed by the attention.

Eventually Timber started visiting the male wolves and made it clear she loved every boy! To the point that none of the boys could stand her energy level for long. Renki and Wolfgang tolerated brief play dates with her. Wotan and Bicho enjoyed her company for longer stretches, but even they had their limits.

Timber greets the 2017 puppies. Photo by Monty Sloan

This year was an important one for Timber as she became the mother of five healthy wolf pups. She did a nice job looking after them in the den, but was less sure how to handle them once they started moving around. She treated the pups like adult wolves, which was overwhelming for the little ones. She also began showing negative intentions toward the females as soon as they started looking like adult female wolves. She still receives play dates with her sons, Aspen and Máni, and foster son, Niko, but even they find Timber’s bouncy nature to be too much. We hope she’ll settle down eventually and can have a full-time companion, but until then, she is fortunately happy with human attention, walks, toys, and regular dates with all her boys.

Timber and Aspen. All Timber’s puppies already outweigh her. Photo by Monty Sloan

We are blessed to have Scarlette and Timber as part of the family and so grateful for the joy they’ve brought to us.

Upcoming Events
December 16Santa Visits Wolf Park
January 13Winter Wolves
February 10Winter Wolves

Please consider donating to Wolf Park this holiday season! We cannot exist without the support of so many wonderful people. 2018 is projected to bring new changes to Wolf Park including new seminars, updated kids camps, new education displays, more trees, and improvements to the enclosures. Please help us continue our mission! Sponsor a wolf, become a member, or donate to our year-end fund. We appreciate your support!

How Scarlette greets her favorite people. Photo by Kimber Hendrix

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Donate This Holiday Season

Dear Friend of Wolf Park,

Forty-five years ago, Wolf Park’s founder, Dr. Erich Klinghammer inspired us with his mission to “Save Wolves, Save Wilderness”—this year with YOUR help we have celebrated his memory and done just that. Along with our 45th Anniversary weekend celebration in April we spent the year reminiscing as well as dreaming about where Wolf Park was, how far it’s come, and where to go next. Your loyalty and generosity, along with Dr. Klinghammer’s vision inspire the volunteers, board of directors, and staff everyday making us want to do more not just for our animal ambassador’s but for wolves in the wild.

Your donation today will help Wolf Park succeed tomorrow.

Along with hosting over 19,000 guests for our regularly scheduled guided tours, summer camps, educational seminars and howl nights, your financial support in 2017 helped to accomplish many exciting things including:

  • In April we welcomed FIVE new animal ambassadors to the pack—Aspen, Máni, and Sparrow were born at Wolf Park. We partnered with Wolf Mountain in upstate New York to trade two of our wolf pups with theirs to increase genetic diversity, thus bringing Niko and Khewa to Wolf Park.
  • Some new displays were added to our education building this past year including a naturalistic den display allowing visitors to learn more about our animal ambassadors’ wild counterparts.
  • This summer Wolf Park partnered with the Purdue Climate Change Research Center and offered “Tipping Point: Talking Climate and Carnivores over a Cold One”, a four-lecture series on climate change.
  • We offered a brand new seminar focusing solely on animal enrichment by Dr. Lindsay Mehrkam.
  • DSC_0737-1024x683

    $250 donation. 6″ Magnetic Car Magnet

    Our Wolf Park summer team built a hut structure including a firehose bed for our 1.5 acre enclosure, which is a favorite of our animal.

Those are just the highlights, too! YOUR support makes Wolf Park’s success a reality, and we couldn’t do what we do without YOU. We are honored and grateful that you choose to support Wolf Park and we are asking you to continue your financial support now. Your gift of any size is appreciated. No amount is too large or too small!

Wolf Park does not receive government funding. Please donate today!

Stoneware Mug

$500 donation – Mugs come in a variety of colors. Receive the limited 45th Anniversary edition logo while supplies last.

On average, it takes $545,000 to maintain Wolf Park and we rely on your donations to help us cover our costs. YOU are the reason that we are able to provide excellent care to each of our animals. Financial contributions also help us provide education to the public and resources for researchers working to support our animal ambassadors’ wild counterparts. Please consider making a donation to Wolf Park today.

As a special thank you for our contributors this year, we are offering “gifts” for the following donation levels:

  • For $250, you will receive a new Wolf Park Car Magnet and a 4X6 matted photo taken by Monty Sloan.
  • For $500, you will receive our Wolf Park Stoneware Mug.
  • For $750, you will receive a new Wolf Park fleece blanket.
  • For $1000, you will receive, a one-year sponsorship and a Photo Session with hardcover photo book containing photos of your visit.
Micro-Plush Blanket

$750 Donation. Micro-plush blanket. 50″X60″. Forest green with cream logo in corner.

Along with our daily expenses, our animal ambassadors need updated enclosures to continue to thrive. This year we are offering you an opportunity to contribute specifically to our Wolf Enclosure Capital Project. To participate, just click the checkbox to indicate that you wish your donation to go towards this project and 100% of the funds will be directed as such.

During this holiday season, please consider a gift to Wolf Park today. Your generous gift will enable us to continue providing outstanding care for our animals and engaging programming for visitors.

THANK YOU for sharing in Erich’s mission for the past 45 years. With your continuing support, we can share the next 45 with you, too!

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Tractors, Trees and Sailing

Photo by Natalie Risser

Thanks to the 2017 summer interns, The Land Nursery and Boy Scout Troop 205, Wolf Park is a greener place. The interns raised money to purchase a lot of new trees at an amazing price from Walter Beineke at The Land Nursery. The boy scouts and several volunteers spent their Saturday morning planting them. There are thirty trees in the ground, and we hope to do a second planting before winter. The trees have been planted in the wolf enclosures and along the walking trail to provide shade and beauty for both our animals and visitors. Thank you all!

We hope to plant A LOT more trees before winter. Donate to help make Wolf Park green. Trees are only $25 apiece.

Photo by Natalie Risser

We have a new tractor! After years of service, our old tractor finally gave up the ghost. We’re so grateful to friend-of-the-park Crystal Hagan for doing the leg work to provide us with our new tractor. It’s a huge need of ours in every season to cut grass, move objects, dig holes, plow snow, smooth gravel, feed the bison, and so much more! Thanks Tri Green Tractor and store manager Eric Clark for the amazing discount. You found us the perfect tractor for our needs!

The puppies did their first Howl Night on Friday. Friday Howl Nights are usually small, so we chose a Friday for their first one to let them get used to a small crowd. It turned out to be the biggest Friday Howl Night of the year. The pups did great, even if they didn’t howl. We’d included some enrichment for them, in order to provide distraction as need and assure them big crowds are fun! Khewa really likes jumping for things hung from trees.

That night the pups were given a pumpkin as part of their enrichment. We wanted them to get used to gourds before October’s Pumpkin Party, plus we wanted promotional photos. The pups loved it. Everyone chewed on the insides, and several games of chase made use of the pumpkin lid.

Want a photo of a puppy or another animal enjoying the Pumpkin Party? Support the event receive a picture of the animal of your choice enjoying a seasonal treat!

Monty and the pups set sail. Photo by Sara Preston

Puppy photo shoots are still happening every Tuesday in the main enclosure. The groups were pretty small this month so we’ve taken advantage of the park’s rowboat. From there we can get excellent shots of the wolves on the shore. Aspen was the first puppy to take a boat ride – by accident. He managed to launch the boat while leaping into it, then got in the way of staff member Caity, who was trying to paddle. They ended up being adrift far longer than she’d intended before she was able to get him back to shore. Since then, the pups have become better at climbing out of the boat. Máni particularly enjoys rides.

Staff, photographers and Aspen out for a ride. Photo by Dana Drenzek

There are still slots open for the fall photo shoots and seminars. Sign up today!

Upcoming Events
9/23 – After Dark
10/21 – After Dark
10/28 – Pumpkin Party

Fiona and the puppies have a pool party! Photo by Monty Sloan

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I Am Your Father

Timber is a lady who loves her boys. She’s courted every male wolf in the park and would be happy to be special friends with any and all of them. When breeding season concluded, and Timber’s pregnancy was confirmed, there were two possible fathers of the pups. Brothers Wotan and Wolfgang had both bred with her during a fertile period. The resulting pups bore all the family traits and gave no clue who the daddy might be.

The potential daddies

There were many clamors to know who was the father, and some speculation that the pups might have two different fathers. Mixed litters have been documented in dogs, but not in wolves. We hoped we might prove this to be a possibility.

DNA tests revealed all the Twiglets have the same father and that father is…. *drumroll*…. WOTAN!

Proud parents

Wotan has certainly put in the effort as devoted mate. He helped Timber dig the den and brought her food during her pregnancy. He and she enjoy playdates at regular intervals. Being an aging twelve-year-old, he isn’t interested in her full-time companionship, and he’s shown no desire to meet his sons and daughter without a barrier between.

The puppy pack. Photo by Monty Sloan

Congratulations to Wotan and Timber on their lovely, growing litter.

Upcoming Events
8/17 – Tipping Point: Talking Climate Change and Carnivores
8/26 – Puppy Exploration Party
8/26 – Wolf Park After Dark

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Renki’s Milestone

Today we celebrated a very important anniversary. A year ago today Renki’s underwent surgery to halt the spread of his cancer. This involved the amputation of his forelimb. It was not something we’d ever tried before, but we trusted Renki’s positive attitude would be a boon to his recovery. This proved true. He was walking on three legs before the anesthesia had even worn off, and adapted rapidly to his new gait.

At the time, we weren’t sure how much time we’d bought him, if any. There were many murmurs about ‘Renki’s last Christmas’ and such as holidays came and went. We rejoiced with every milestone he passed and wondered how many more he would see.

Today we can say proudly that Renki is a survivor. As near as we can tell, he is cancer free. It is a joy to see him still enjoying walks, food, playing with his sister, and loving the human attention. We don’t know how long we have with him, but we’ll consider every day with him a blessing.

To celebrate the day, Renki received a gathering of friends who brought him eggs and gelatos. Two favorite foods for a wolf whose favorite food is ‘food’. He and Ayla enjoyed the party, although Ayla preferred eggs to gelato.

Renki, Ayla and friends celebrate a milestone. Photo by Monty Sloan

Meanwhile, one of the interns took this really cute photo of Khewa.

Really cute Khewa. Photo by Natalie Risser

Upcoming Events
7/27 – Tipping Point: Talking Climate Change and Carnivores
7/29 – Wolf Park After Dark
8/17 – Tipping Point: Talking Climate Change and Carnivores
8/26 – Puppy Exploration Party
8/26 – Wolf Park After Dark

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Paddle Pups

Babies’ first carcass. Photo by Sara Preston

The puppies had their first whole deer carcass last week. In true wolf fashion, they tore right into it and got thoroughly bloody. Everyone shared, which is nice to see. There was rumbling, but this litter of puppies is surprisingly good at eating civilly off the same carcass pieces. Out to make the process as macabre as possible, they ate the face off first.

On Friday they had their second run in the main enclosure. After running around the dam and exploring the whole enclosure, the Twiglets jumped into the lake and swam in circles. Sparrow tried to start a wrestling match while swimming and dunked Máni. The Mountaineers were wary about swimming. Niko fell in the lake while trying to balance on a log. Khewa had the better balance and stayed dry but still turned into a swamp wolf.

Máni just after Sparrow dunked him. Photo by Scott Allaire

The Old Golds. Photo by Jennifer Yeandle

Saturday was Brew on the Bridge, an annual event in which a local band comes out to serenade visitors. The Old Golds. People’s Brewing Company and South Street Smokehouse all made for an excellent evening, even if the threat of rain did make in an indoor event. The crowd loved them and we hope The Old Golds will play with us next year!

A great crowd enjoys music, BBQ and beer. Photo by Jennifer Yeandle

The interns continue to build. Now they’ve fashioned a hammock for the foxes. Firehoses are the gift which keeps on giving. If anyone knows of a supply, we would love to receive more. The animals appreciate beds with a ‘give’ to them.

Swing time. Photo by Scott Allaire

Khewa the swamp puppy. Photo by Scott Allaire

Upcoming Events
7/27 – Tipping Point: Talking Climate Change and Carnivores
7/29 – Wolf Park After Dark
8/17 – Tipping Point: Talking Climate Change and Carnivores
8/26 – Puppy Exploration Party
8/26 – Wolf Park After Dark

EDIT: Last week we announced a brand new seminar. The date has since changed. Check out ‘Mmmm…. Enrichment!’ a seminar about keeping animals in zoos, sanctuaries, humane societies and homes entertained and mentally engaged. The park will be hosting it October 27 – 29 and we are thrilled to welcome Dr. Lindsay Mehrkam and all her knowledge.

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100 Days

Máni in the main enclosure. Photo by Monty Sloan

The Twiglets turned 100 days old yesterday! Everyone is growing and thriving. They had their first visit to the big Turtle Lake Enclosure, and it went great. Training continues. Everyone is walking well on leashes. Aspen climbed into the golf cart on one of his walks. They have regular visits with Fiona and Timber. This week they’re getting ready for Brew on the Bridge by enjoying lots of music at night so they won’t be concerned during the big event.

Timber, Aspen and Máni. Photo by Monty Sloan

New Enrichment by the 2017 Interns. Photo by Sara Preston

Thanks to our intrepid interns, their enclosure has received some new furniture. The interns built two new huts, a bridge, and two platforms. The bridge and platforms have firehose tops, which makes them very comfortable. The whole thing won’t be assembled until the pups are larger because we don’t want them falling off the bridge, but for now they’re enjoying the platforms, and the adult wolves appreciate somewhere tall they can go to get away from crazy puppies.

Exploring the new platform. Photo by Lisa Maney

Thanks to our amazing sponsors Sarah McGraw, and Tim & Stacey Folyer! They put on the second annual ‘Wolfstock’ to support Wolf Park and spread the word about us. We’re so grateful for the bands and businesses who donated their time and resources. Both humans and animals at Wolf Park appreciate the support we receive from wonderful people in our community!

We have two new additions to Wolf Park, at least temporarily. The Park is currently home to a small colony of guinea pigs. The pigs were here to help our kids camp participants learn about safe animal handling and training. The pigs came from hoarder situations and other bad homes, so we were glad to have the opportunity to teach them that humans can be nice. One of the girls gave birth yesterday to two healthy babies. We hope to return very social young pigs to the rescue once they’re old enough to be adopted.

Upcoming Events
July 22 – Brew on the Bridge
July 27 – Tipping Point: Talking Climate Change and Carnivores
July 29 – Wolf Park After Dark

Mmmm… Enrichment!
August 18 – 20
Dr. Lindsay Mehrkam will be spending three days talking enrichment in animal facilities. Participants will have a chance to design species-specific enrichment, discuss ideas, and learn how facilities around the country are keeping their animals engaged. Whether your interest is zoos, shelters, parks or your own home, this is information worth learning!

Khewa in the pool

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