Wolf Pack Release (4)

Wolf Pack Release (4)

No news over the past days is at least no new bad news: Things in our wolf saga are in limbo. We have now confirmed that the black wolf shot on January 1st was not Haida but Logan, since Haida has now been seen at close range by two Haliburton Forest staff and identified.

Haida between fencesHaida and Lonestar continue to hang out on top of the hill adjacent to the Wolf Center. They interact with the pack through frequent howling and “running with the pack” along side the fence… Leila on the inside and Haida with Lonestar on the outside. The latter have also settled into a routine of coming in between the fences at night to feed on the beaver carcasses we leave out for them. The attached image shows Haida on one of these feeding sessions.


Based on this state of affairs we developed a new plan: We wanted to convert the entire wolf enclosure into a “trap”. All we had to do is tranquilise Leila, take her into the temporary enclosure with her other 4 sisters and then open the main gate for Haida and Lonestar. It sounds easy, but our “opponents” are wolves…

Leila tranquilisedWe went about to tranquilise Leila. No problem, as the attached image attests to: she went down by the book approximately 50 feet from where the arrow hit her. We waited for close to ten minutes for the tranquiliser to take effect. Her eyes closed, as they are supposed to… and we were ready to roll her onto a blanket and take her over to the remainder of the pack. I took the attached picture of her asleep. You can see the dart in her side and she is “out”. However, several seconds later, we were standing over her and ready to attend to her, she opened her eyes very wide, took one look at us and started to erect herself to stumble off into a thicket beside us.

I was so startled by this totally unexpected development, that I lost a precious few seconds, since I still had another tranquiliser dart in my pocket. But by the time I realised what was happening, she was moving… and at increasing speeds. I did not have the heart to fire another shot at a moving target, through dense brush with a chance to either injure her or overdose her with the tranquiliser. To make a long story short: Leila made a fool of ourselves.

Reflecting on this incident today, a day later, I feel “shitty”, because I do not know what went wrong and what I could have done differently. We have tranquilised our wolves on several occasions before – the last time 18 months ago, when one of our wolves had a really bad encounter with a porcupine – and never had any issues. Leila received the same dosage that put Granite, her mother, out for hours just days before. And if we had any concerns, it was more that we would overdose than not be effective at all.

Gate trap imageAfter this disappointment we re-grouped and moved our plan: instead of recapturing Haida and Lonestar in the inside enclosure, we will move to the outside fence: We will set the outside gate up with a spring-loaded wire and keep it open with a stick, which will be attached to a beaver just inside the gate, between the two fences. Would either or both wolves come between the fences to get their food, as they had done over the past days, they would encounter a beaver on a cable, which is nothing new to them, pull on it and effectively close the gate behind them. Sounds simple, but as the last image in today’s series attests to, the two wolves did intend to pick up their evening meal between the fences, but sensed that something was not quite right. They must have paced up and down for several minutes with paw-tracks inches from the gate … but then they decided to move out again. Let’s hope they will try again tonight, with fresh snow having covered some of our scent and their hunger bigger to convince them to move in and pull on that juicy (frozen) beaver…

Please keep crossing those fingers …


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