After that, the government decided to shut down the study of the wolves. All the wolves in the Wolf Project would be euthanized. Peggy Callahan, who worked on the Wolf Project, wouldn’t let that happen. She started the Wildlife Science Center to let the wolves in the project live out their lives and to teach people how they can help protect wolves. They try to learn different ways for people to keep wolves away from their livestock and pets without harming the wolves. They try using different smells and objects to see what works to keep wolves away without hurting them. Now they don’t only take wolves. They have other animals like bears, coyotes, bobcats, lynx, foxes, and even skunks. They get the animals from people who tried to have them as pets (that never works!) and also when they’ve been injured and can’t survive in the wild or from zoos and other places that would have had to euthanize them.
Towards the end of the tour, we saw two lynx sisters cuddling together in the shade. They were soooooo cute!!
Every year during April or May, the alpha female normally gives birth to a litter of 4-6 pups. Wolf pups weigh one pound when they are born and they are blind, deaf, and completely dependent on their mother for food and protection against predators like bears. When a wolf gives birth to pups, the pups live in a hole or a cave called a den that the parents find or create themselves. They stay inside the den until they are two months old and are big enough to move with the pack. While the pups play, they find out which of them is dominant.
After the pups have lived a while with the pack, some of them stay, and one may become an alpha male or female. Some get pushed out of the pack and become lone wolves who will try to find a mate to start a new pack or join another pack. Wolves take turns taking care of the pups while the other wolves go hunting. If a pack is too small, they may have to leave the pups alone. When a wolf is injured, all the wolves in the pack will help to take care of them. Wolves sleep as much as 12 hours at a time! When they wake up, one wolf will start howling to awaken the other wolves. Once the other wolves are awake, they will join the howl and then try to find prey.
You can help wolves by teaching other people how wolves are important in the ecosystem to keep the balance between predator and prey. You could also write to your representatives about how wolves are important and how you don’t want them to be hunted. If you want to help the Wildlife Science Center, you can learn more on their website: www.wildlifesciencecenter.org. Here in Minnesota, you can learn more about helping wolves at www.howlingforwolves.org.
Thanks for reading my article. It definitely taught me something about wolves. I hope it taught you something, too!
Here you can enjoy the song “footprints of old, footprints of gold” that my music teacher Carlos Pilán wrote for the grey wolves of Minnesota.
Brandenburg, Jim and Judy. Face to Face With Wolves. National Geographic Society, 2008.
Tour of the Wildlife Science Center in Columbus, Minnesota on May 14, 2016.