Wolf Pack Release (5)

Wolf Pack Release (5)

Friends, it has been a while and I received numerous requests for updates. As the lapse of time may indicate, not much can be reported, certainly not the successful reunification of part of the pack.

Update from January 23:

Haida and Lonestar have settled in quite comfortably – outside the Wolf Center. They are in good physical condition and interact with the females left inside the enclosure frequently. They move about and are seen not just daily but hourly. They travel within a pie-shaped area north of the Wolf Center, sometimes as far as 10 kms away, only to return in the evenings. When things settle down around the Wolf Center, which is close to the main entrance point into Haliburton Forest, the Base Camp, Haida and Lonestar dare to sneek in between the 2 fences where we leave beaver carcasses, their common food. That is with the exception of the last 2 nights, when they were observed feeding on the remains of a fawn on McDonald Lake, which was killed by a wild pack within Haliburton Forest and only app. 4 kms away from the Wolf Center. Yet, they returned tonight and approached two Haliburton Forest staff. One threw her water bottle at Haida, who grabbed it and took off into the woods with it. Earlier today Haida observed a dogsled tour passing by, hardly 100 feet below him.

While all this is going on, we attempt to capture the two elusive animals. We have reformed the entrance gates of the outer fence area into trap doors. They are now spring loaded with a series of bunjee-cords and held open with a large stick, which in turn is cabled to beaver dangling from a tripod. Our wolves are used to feeding on beavers held in place by cables. Haida and Lonestar came in 3 nights ago, before they found the wolf-kill on McDonald Lake. They pulled the beaver down … and nothing happened. When we saw the half-consumed beaver the next day, we were puzzled. Why did our engineering fail? Today we know. Have you ever witnessed the elasticity of a bunjee cord at –30 degrees (celsius)? And last night the mercury dropped to –39 at Haliburton Forest! Bunjees are like spaghetti al-dente at that temperature. They lose their spring … and were unable to pull the gate shut when the wolves pulled the beaver. We now reconfigured and are using aircraft cable and weights suspended from pulley-blocks. One of these nights we will capture our two male wolves … one after the other.

Update from January 31:

After our trapping attempts were kyboshed by the extreme cold experienced last week – remember the –39 (celcius) that took the slack out of a dozen bunjee cords – Haliburton Forest’s David Bishop and Ray Martin spent an entire day at –30 to re-engineer the trap, making it – almost – weather proof and certainly wolf-proof, if ever one gets into it: they converted the entrance area between the two fences, which was familiar to the wolves and where we witnessed them feeding at least 7 times, into a large, 12’ high cage, with the door on a spring-pole mechanism, attached to … you guessed it: a beaver. But so far, and this fabulous contraption has now been set up for a week, none of the two wolves has even made tracks close to it. We know that at some point hunger must drive the two outsiders and they sure well know where they found a beaver the last 7 times they looked for it.

But one explanation may also lie in the last observed sighting of Haida, who was trotting down the road to the local landfill site. Not a pretty place for a wolf, but as we always tell everybody at the Wolf Center, wolves are opportunistic. And after a weekend in cottage country, I am sure there are morcels of food to be scrounged for a wolf at the municipal landfill. Unfortunately that, being last Friday , was also the last confirmed sighting we have had of either Haida or Lonestar. So if anybody in the larger Haliburton-Dorset area sees a black wolf ( which are VERY rare in the wild in Ontario) or even two, a black and a beige one, we’d like to hear about it. We still have not given up. The door of our trap remains open and perhaps it is mating season, with female pheromones in the air in a couple of weeks, which will bring the boys home.

Update from February 14th:

While our doors are literally still open, Haida and Lonestar are still out there and at large. They have moved further away from the Wolf Center, yet “hang around”. The two outside wolves are straying further away and now frequent an area in a radius 5, 6 and even 7 kilometers away around the Center … but they still hang around. They are sighted and certainly leave tracks. They are also finding ways to survive: I already reported that Haida was seen on the local dump and a couple of days ago they were able to “catch” one of our numerous, local turkeys. These other food sources make them less dependent on our “beaver caches” … and our trap. But mating season is literally around the corner now and we expect that this will bring “the two boys” back to “the girls” … keep your fingers crossed, there is still hope to have the pack reunited !

Keep those fingers crossed,

– Peter


Click here for the next update on this story.