For more than 30 years, Wolf Haven has rescued and provided lifetime sanctuary to over 170 animals.
by Brennan Stoelb, Animal Care Specialist, Wolf Haven International
When it comes to the noises of the human world, Wolf Haven is fairly quiet. Mild traffic, the occasional police or fire siren, and the hum of a nearby train are often the only indications that urban life is around. The wolves know it too and will sing along with the passing siren. We are fortunate to be serenaded by a chorus of 51 wolves for other reasons too, like the sight of the feeding truck. But wolves aren’t the only animals you will hear at Wolf Haven.
If you look into the trees you will likely see our friendly neighbors in the sky, ravens.
Before there were wolves at Wolf Haven, there were no resident ravens. In the wild, wolves and raven have a close working relationship. When wolves make a kill, the ravens will feed on the carcass once the wolves leave. Likewise, raven activity on a carcass alerts wolves to a meal they can scavenge when times are tight. Some also say that ravens “tell” wolves where a herd of ungulates are located, so the wolves can make the kill and in turn, feed the ravens.
The relationship between wolves and ravens seems to go beyond survival. Scientists have even observed what appears to be wolves and raven engaged in play. Ravens will sometimes bomb the wolves, grabbing tufts of fur or they will be seen swooping down, staying just out of jaws reach. While I cannot attest to viewing wolves and ravens playing at Wolf Haven, I have certainly seen ravens take food that didn’t quite make it to the wolves. I have also seen ravens that didn’t make it back to the trees….if you catch my drift.
We also have a small number of crows here at Wolf Haven. Crows and ravens are part of the corvid family. While very similar, ravens have bigger features and are more solitary. Recently as a part of staff enrichment, we gathered to watch the PBS documentary, A Murder of Crows. This documentary focused on the intelligence of crows and their ability to problem-solve, with one study showing crows are capable of multi-level thinking, such as getting a smaller stick to retrieve a bigger stick to finally get food. Astonishingly, crows also have 250 distinct calls and can recognize a human face, based on positive or negative experiences, for up to two years. They will scold those that have done them wrong in the past, alerting others to the danger.
As I type, I can hear the caws of both ravens and crows amongst the silence. I can only wonder what they’re saying.
(Special thanks to volunteer and bird expert Treesa Hertzel for maintaining the Wolf Haven bird watch report and “Birds of Wolf Haven page for our website.)
by Brennan Stoelb, Animal Care Specialist
The last Wolf Haven blog I wrote dealt with the increasing daylight causing not only wolves, but other animals as well, to shed. The shedding is due to more Prolactin being produced by their bodies in response to the increasing daylight. Most of the residents at Wolf Haven have completed this year’s shedding. And it’s just in time!
A quick glance at the thermometer, which is in the shade outside of the animal care
office, showed the needle at a warm 90 degrees. Other than feeding and changing the water for our residents, we aren’t doing much in the sanctuary today. It doesn’t mean there isn’t grass to cut or other tasks to perform, but they can wait until the heat passes. There is no need to make anyone run around or move for that matter, any more than they want to.
Coincidental, today is Tuesday and we aren’t open for tours. If the temperatures are too high, we will cancel tours for human and animal safety alike. Last year I gave a tour to a friend of mine who just happened to give blood earlier in the day. That combined with the heat was enough to make her get light-headed and need to be wheelchaired out of the sanctuary. Stay hydrated and please – engage in no acts of kindness that require liquids to be removed from your body prior to your tour (by all means, give blood after).
So what do wolves do on a day like today? The same as you probably wish you were doing; lie in the shade and stay cool. The residents are often not too active on hot days. Often people who come on a tour do so because they are fascinated by wolves and want to see them. Unfortunately, sometimes you see more tall grass on a hot day than you do wolves. My best advice for tour times in the summer is a morning tour; that way you have a better chance to see and learn about wolves. Oh, and if you’re so inclined, give blood later in the day.
Caedus demonstrates howling to sanctuary tour group
by Wolf Haven volunteer Greg Wellsandt
On Saturday, Wolf Haven volunteer tour guide Traci was giving the first tour of the day, assisted by her flip chart turner, Greg (that’s me). At Enclosure #5, a howl started way out in the off-tour area. It took a long time to gain momentum, but soon the whole gang was fully engaged in the music making. Caedus and Ladyhawk put on a show at the front of their enclosure as did Klondike and Mehina.
unique voices. The howl went on for a long time much to the delight of the visitors who were snapping photos and recording the sounds. Finally, Ladyhawk had enough. She decided it was time to shut Caedus up because she was in the mood to play. She bent over in a quasi-submissive pose and attempted to get his attention. When that didn’t work, she tried to grab his jaw to stop the howling. Caedus gave it a thought for a moment, but went back to what he loves almost as much as eating, howling.
Ladyhawk was not to be deterred and continued to try to get Caedus’s attention. Finally, the howl started to diminish and the two became engaged in a bit of gentle roughhousing. Our sanctuary visitors were treated to a wonderful live display of wolf communication.
One way that Wolf Haven raises both funds AND awareness is by offering symbolic adoptions of our resident wolves (and wolfdogs and two coyotes). Adoption levels begin at only $25. You receive a beautiful, professional 4 x 6″ matted photo, an adoption certificate and an official biography of the animal selected.
They are also given as gifts; one gentleman routinely “adopts” all of the animals at the sanctuary (50+) for his wife as her Christmas gift. And she LOVES it. We just received this lovely message from someone who gave a wolf adoption to a loved one, and this is how the message on his gift card reads:
Skie Bender – Education Outreach Specialist
Weaving my old truck through Capitol Forest towards the small timber town of Montesano, (population 3,500) the cobalt blue sky gives way to a rolling mass of gray. Montesano, birthplace of tree farming, became the nation’s first tree farm in 1941.
At 11 a.m. I arrive at the Montesano Library ready to share my passion and knowledge of wolves with the citizens. Once a week the Montesano Library hosts an adult lunch time program appropriately titled, Food For Thought. People pack a lunch from home and bring it to the library where they enjoy eating while listening to the speaker of the week.
Today Wolf Haven has been chosen as speaker of the week, and I am the mouthpiece. Crunching apples, chewy cheese sandwich and sips from soda can sounds filled the room as I began the wolf talk with a long streamline hooooowwwwl. Masticating mouths froze. Breaths held still. Ears pricked up.
Once I completed the howl, I allowed for a moment of silence.Then asked everyone to imagine that they bought a “get-away” cabin for the purpose of“getting-back-to-nature”. No TV. No computer. No phone. No technological distractions.Only pure primal sounds like the wind blowing, leaves rustling, trees creaking, wild animals moving deliberately through the underbrush, and the snap-flap of a hawks wide strong wings.
I continue. “It is dusk. You peacefully sit outside on the porch of your cabin feeling at one with the nature that surrounds you. Then one forlorn howl rises over the west hills, that solitary howl is soon joined by another and another, until there is a surround sound of howls, each varying in tone and inflection.
The next morning you go into town to the General Store to buy some supplies. You discreetly ask the cashier, ‘Are there wolves around here?’ She answers, ‘Oh yes, Lots of Wolves.’ Other folks in the store overhear and chime in, ‘This is wolf central. You are in wolf country. There are more packs here than anywhere else in the country.’ ”
Returning to Library consciousness – I ask the group – “How does this make you feel?” Greatly appreciating the candid answers, a few of the responses I get are:
- “Less adventurous about exploring areas around my new cabin.”
- “Worried for my dogs.”
- “Excited about the wolf packs around me.”
- “I won’t let my children play in the woods.”
I begin the slideshow, which is primarily about wolves in Washington State, but delves into general wolf issues such as the historic and current ranges of wolves, species of wolves, wolf/livestock conflict and management. As always at these presentations there are an array of questions that range from scientific to philosophical.
Between you and me – The best part about being the teacher/speaker is how much I get to learn!
by Brennan Stoelb, Animal Care Specialist
We have had some warm days already this year with more to follow, no doubt. I remember the sound of an ice cream truck during the hot summer days, sending me on a risky adventure through the couch cushions for any loose change that my parents unknowingly donated to the cause.
Summer is a good time at Wolf Haven. On hot days, it’s not uncommon to see the wolves lounging in the shade or to notice maybe just an ear flicker in the tall grass. They like to take it easy. We are always trying to keep their senses and minds interested with items that they don’t get on a regular basis. One such item is tuna popsicles. While we don’t have the catchy music of an ice cream truck, we’d like to think the popsicles are greeted with as much enthusiasm.
You may be thinking, “Where I can buy a tuna popsicle?” Good question, and to the best of my knowledge you can’t. We purchase disposable cups, enough for all the animals here, and we buy some tuna. We put a generous amount of tuna in the cup and fill the rest with water. We then put the cups in the freezer. Presto! Tuna popsicles.
Now we don’t limit the wolves’ culinary pallets to just tuna. We like to mix things up for the wolves. As part of our Sustainable Selections program, we sometimes get things like shrimp from the food vendor. We put the shrimp in and then add some minced garlic for extra tastiness.
Check out the VIDEO of EVE enjoying her popsicle!
By Brennan Stoelb, Animal Care Specialist
Springtime is here. I know this not only because the trees are in bloom, but also because my house is covered with a thin layer of dog fur. As a matter of fact, after I typed that last sentence, I proceeded to pet my husky Winnie who was wet from the rain and my hand is now covered in a layer of fur.
If you have been to the sanctuary in the winter months you could be fooled into thinking that wolves weigh 150 pounds or more, based purely on their perceived girth. The reality is that wolves are so well insulated that their bulkiness in winter is just fur! A wolf’s coat is comprised of two different types of fur; a soft undercoat and coarser outer coat with longer guard hairs. The longest fur is on the back by the shoulders, often referred to as a “cape.”
Wolves also have more fur in their ears than dogs to help protect the inner ear from the
elements. When wolves are in extreme cold temperatures, say -30 degrees, their undercoat keeps them warm and you will often find them curled up in a ball with their noses tucked under their tails, like this husky.
So with their size in winter attributed to their fur, we can assume that the rest of the year they appear smaller.This true, but not for the reasons you may think. It makes sense to have more fur when it’s cold and less when it’s hot, but temperature isn’t the reason for the fur loss. Wolves, like all mammals, are photoperiodic- meaning that their endocrine cycles are regulated by the amount of daylight hours. In the spring as daylight hours increase, melatonin mediated changes cause prolactin levels to rise in both male and female wolves.
Prolactin is a hormone that triggers maternal and paternal behavior in wolves, among other species, such as denning, lactation, and shedding. The peak levels of prolactin coincide with the onset of summer and decrease throughout the rest of the year.Right now, the wolves are starting to look a little ragged, with clumps of fur hanging off of them.
You may even see a fence line or two that looks like it’s growing some fur. If you come and visit us this summer, just don’t be surprised if the wolves look smaller than the last time you were in the winter and be thankful that the hair isn’t on your furniture!
The nice weather of spring has brought beautiful wildflowers to the South Sound prairies. If you come by Wolf Haven International in the next couple weeks you will be in for quite a show on the prairie.
As you walk along the trail, you might first notice the shining yellow Western Buttercups (Ranunculus occidentalis) or the low white flowers of the Virginia
Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana). Make sure you take a closer look between the green Camas shoots coming up, because the striking Henderson’s Shooting Star (Dodecatheon
hendersonii) is in full bloom for a while longer. This flower is sort of built inside out, with the pink-purple petals sticking backwards towards the stem, leaving the stamens and pistil to be pointed straight out of the flower. Some mounds are covered in a dark green plant called kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) which is just starting to get its light pink bunches of bell-shaped flowers. Make sure not to step off of the
trail, as kinnikinnick is a host plant for the caterpillars of the rare Hoary Elfin butterfly.
When you get closer to the Grandfather Tree, you will be between two areas that have had prescribed fire applied to them in the past few years, one of which was burned in 2013. These areas will have some new and easier to see flowers. The Early Blue Violet (Viola adunca) is sprouting up in deep purple patches near the trail. Careful not to leave the trail, you can look on the North side of the trail, before the Grandfather Tree, to
try and spot some Golden Paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) coming up. Golden Paintbrush is federally listed as threatened, and state listed as endangered, so if you see it, do not disturb it. All paintbrush species are hemiparasites, which means that they have some chlorophyll with which to make some food, but they get most of their nutrients by stealing it from nearby plant’s roots. The brilliant colors associated with paintbrush plants are not their flowers, but rather colorful leaves. Golden Paintbrush has inconspicuous green flowers between the bright yellow leaves.
Other flowers in this area are the very small blue flowers of Blue Eyed Mary (Collinsia parviflora) and the tall stalks with freshly blooming white flowers of Wholeleaf Saxifrage (Micanthes integrifolia). Off in the forest at the edge of the prairie, there is still a Pacific Trillium (Trillium ovatum) or two in bloom. The famous Common Camas (Camassia quamash) buds have been shooting up, and will start blooming within the next few days, but expect them to cover the prairie in large purple flowers in May.
Many of the plants from last month’s blog are still blooming, and all of the same animals are out, to be joined by many more butterflies and other insect pollinators. Most of the Bluebird boxes are still empty, but it seems that a pair of Tree Swallows is going to nest in the bird box that has a Washington Fish and Wildlife live webcam in it. Most days I see a bird or two in it, and there are more sticks appearing in it every day. You can watch the live bird box cam here: http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildwatch/bluebirdcam/video.html
Center for Natural Lands Management AmeriCorps,
Wolf Haven Outreach and Restoration Technician
“If we leave wolves alone, we’ll be the ones to benefit.” Marybeth Holleman
This guest Call to Action is by Marybeth Holleman, co-author of the book Among Wolves – Gordon Haber’s Insights into Alaska’s Most Misunderstood Animal. Ms. Holleman has also written a wonderful opinion page – Just Like Us, Wolves Need Family to Thrive- which painstakingly recounts the fatal flaws in the US Fish and Wildlife proposal to delist the gray wolf.
“Wolves go to great lengths to stay with family; when important members are lost, families can disintegrate and remaining individuals often die.”
Among Wolves: What You Can Do by MaryBeth Holleman
Ask State of Alaska and U.S. Department of Interior to work together to create a permanent protective buffer for Denali’s wolves on state lands along the northeastern borders of Denali National Park. Ask for this “win-win” solution: that the State of Alaska transfer a permanent no-take wildlife buffer conservation easement east of the national park to the federal government, in exchange for the federal government transferring a like-valued easement, or federal surplus property, or purchase value, to the State of Alaska. A no-take buffer northeast of the park is the only way to rebuild and then sustain Denali’s wolf populations.
Jon Jarvis, National Park Service Director in DC: email@example.com
Joel Hard, NPS Alaska Deputy Regional Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cora Campbell, Commissioner, Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game: email@example.com
Joe Balash, Commissioner, Alaska Dept of Natural Resources: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Whenever an alpha wolf was shot or trapped, it set off a cascade of events that left most of the family dead and the rest scattered, rag-tag orphans.”
Ask Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell to condition the annual transfer of federal funds to state wildlife agencies – through the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act – upon the state cooperatively managing wildlife around federally protected areas, such as national parks and wildlife refuges. Alaska received $49 million from the Dept. of Interior just this year, most of it going to the ADFG Game Division, which conducts “intensive management” (predator control) that subverts national goals of wildlife conservation and restoration.