Here is another summary of our efforts to reunite the wolves after their forceful release more then 2 weeks ago.
Our thanks go out to everyone out there keeping their fingers crossed … now already for over 2 weeks. We keep receiving numerous suggestions, on how we should go about to recapture our wolves, for which we are very grateful. However, most things suggested we have tried and either discarded or it has not or will not work. To provide an overview, here is the list and brief description of what we tried so far.
Initially we reconstructed the “holes'” that were cut and made them into a slew-trap, where the animals could get back in, but the outside ones not out. Not only did the outside animals not try to use that same route, the inside ones investigated on how to get out … So we literally closed that loop-hole very quick.
We then moved on to live traps. Haliburton Forest has its own trap, which we use to live-trap nuisance bears during the early summer. It came out of hibernation, and we also obtained a similar trap from OMNR. But apart from sniffing these out – and it may well be the bear smell – the wolves have not paid any attention to the juicy beaver inside these traps. Apart from smell, these wily creatures are hard to convince to crawl into a dark “tunnel”, even if there is light – and a beaver – on the other side.
Seeing that the live traps would not do the job, we moved on: We were advised by trappers, who set non-lethal snare sets with a lock in place. But after two days and a lot of re-considering, concerned that a snare wire would still have the potential to do substantial damage to a trapped animal, we pulled the snares. At that point our wandering wolves showed up again. We wonder if the snares, which of course were set where the roaming wolves hung out and which needed to be checked constantly, were the cause of the animals to move away. As a consequence we stayed out of the hillside where they stay close to the enclosure and the remaining pack and ever since, we see them or their evidence around the Wolf Center daily.
It was at that point that we started to construct a fence inside the enclosure. It took a good day’s effort … and once we had the 5 remaining wolves inside, it took them 3 minutes to scale our 8 foot fence, including wire and overhang ! We had to take that fence down again and build a new one: this time 12′ high ! But now the remaining wolves were spooked, even beyond the existing turmoil. When we attempted to “drive” them into the new enclosure, the pups simply disappeared in some of the numerous dens …
Of course our plan was, as frequently suggested, to keep these 5 young wolves inside the smaller enclosure inside the main enclosure and then being able to open the inside and outside fence, inviting the two roamers in … This afternoon we were finally able to coax 4 of the 5 inside wolves into the smaller enclosure; Leila, with all the force she could muster pushed her way through a small – no, tiny – gap that was left in our closing gate, before we could rush in to secure it. We suspect that she injured herself either in this break-through or the last one, since she is wounded on one hind leg and limping (she had a previous injury from a fight with Granite and the pups, which had nicely healed ).
But we decided, that this was the best … no, the only … chance we have at the moment, to reunite the pack. We are concerned that eventually Lonestar and Haida/Luna are going to wander off again, so we will take the chance tonight and open the 2 gates, even with Leila being able to get out. We expect that in the overall turmoil, that this will not happen and she will stick to the remainder of the pack. With the two outside wolves literally hanging around the gate area at least one, hopefully both wolves on the outside will take the opportunity to come in. They howl with the rest of the pack every morning and night and it is a gut-wrenching thought for us to sit a couple of kilometers away not being able to do anything.
It was just as troubling this afternoon to face the 5 remaining wolves up close: they are truly in turmoil! Being leaderless and now even further confined has caused them major stress and especially the two yearlings are truly lost. The pups hid inside a burrowed stump and are clearly lost.
If this, the last of our soft recapture strategies does not work, what else can we still do?
We received several suggestions for rubberized leg-hold traps. (Un)-fortunately locally trappers do not use leg-holds any longer, so they have no experience with them.
Some of you are asking, why we don’t tranquilise the wolves? Using a tranquiliser gun will be one more option, albeit one with a faint hope attached. We need to get to within a minimum of 100 feet of a clear shot at one of the wolves in resting or standing position. That alone will be a very tough challenge.
Finally, we have of course considered and discussed the “spiking” of bait with tranquiliser right at the beginning of this saga with our vet. There are two lethal dangers: it is very hard to administer a sedative orally effectively, and the line between tranquilising and killing is a very fine one, especially since we need to capture two animals. The second threat, if we were successful in tranquilising the animals, is the fact that by tranquilising, the metabolism drops to a point, where animals are very much exposed to cold and subsequently hypothermia: at present temperatures well below freezing, we would have to find the wolves within 30 – 60 minutes … since they only take our food/bait at night and we cannot be close, that would be very difficult! Facing these two threats combined we put the “bait-tranquilising” option at the bottom of our list.
On a final note, some of you are wondering, if the Wolf Center is still open… and the answer is: Yes, is it ever!!! The Haliburton Forest Wolf Center is open every Saturday and Sunday – check out our Wolf Center page for more details. We not only still have 5 wolves inside the enclosure, but it is very apparent through the activities and developments over the past weeks, that our mission to educate and inform about wolves is more important and urgently needed than ever.
Please keep those fingers crossed !!!
PS: OCMP still hasn’t found the people who released the wolves in the first place, or who shot two of the wolves. In order to increase our chances for success, we offer a reward of $ 3,000 to be paid by Haliburton Forest for information, that leads to the person or persons responsible being criminally charged for the unlawful release of the four wolves, which also led to the death of Granite and Haida or Luna.
Relevant information regarding this crime should be directly reported to Haliburton Forest at 705 754-2198 or via email at email@example.com.
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