A new generation of Wolf Pups at the Haliburton Forest Wolf Centre

Written by Minna and Peter Schleifenbaum

Haliburton Forest is proud to announce the arrival of six new wolf pups

On Tuesday May 3rd 2016, Luna (our Alpha Female) did not show up for her usual social interactions with the rest of the pack. Even a small feeding did not entice her to show up! Our Wolf Centre staff noticed her conspicuous absence, and after 20 years of experience, we knew that this could only mean one thing. Not to mention that the timing was dead on: precisely 63 days after we observed mating in early-March, which is the gestation period for dogs and wolves we could expect to have another litter of pups.

Wolf-pups-and-minnaOn Wednesday May 4th, we mustered our crew of eight staff and divided into several groups to take care of our annual maintenance. This included cleaning the windows of the observation rooms, cutting trees that had fallen on the fence, collecting bones in the feeding area, and of course, searching for the newborn pups.

pulling-phil-out

In the past, it has sometimes taken us up to three and even four hours to find the den where the Alpha Female chose to give birth. This is because our wolf pack has inhabited the 15 acre enclosure for over 20 years, which means that there are dozens of holes that could serve as den. But one feature that makes the finding of an active den easier is the sound that the pups make: a high pitched, constant wailing, which can be very clearly heard in the vicinity of the den. 

pups-in-den

Experience was on our side this time, and within 10 minutes we heard that distinctive whimpering coming from a hole in the ground. As usual, Luna, the mother had vacated the den prior to our arrival –  her natural fear of man, which is inherent to wolves, is stronger than her sense to protect her pups. These were barely one day old, and still had their umbilical cords attached! The den was a deep one, reaching nearly 8’ underground. 

One person squirmed into the den and pulled out the pups, while another identified their sex and colour. The third did a second inspection and placed them on a warm blanket. Then we reversed the procedure and put them back into the den. The entire process took barely 10 minutes. For much of this time, Luna was observing us from a safe distance on a ridge above us, watching our every move.

determine-pups-gender2

We counted six pups: four males and two females. With the pack already including eight adult wolves, six pups would put too much stress on the group. For this reason, and to support wolf research at other facilities, we will be donating two pups (one male and one female) to the International Wolf Science Centre in Austria. We are currently preparing the paperwork and getting their passports ready. In about two weeks we will re-enter the enclosure to retrieve the two pups and prepare them for their journey to Austria! 

Check out the photos and the video of our excursion into the Wolf Centre enclosure, and listen to the soundbite of the pups whimpering (in the video where the pups are shown in their den).

If you are interested to find out more about the new home of two of our pups, you can read about the International Wolf Science Centre at: http://www.wolfscience.at/en.

 

PS: This blog post was a truely collaborative work:

  • GoPro video footage: Phil
  • Video editing: Hermann
  • Text writeup: Minna and Peter
  • Text editing: Malcolm
  • Photos: Peter, Phil and Malcolm
  • Blog post layout: Hermann

 close-up-pups-in-denPile-of-wolf-pups