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September World of Wolves – Lunar eclipse

The million dollar question: how did the wolves react to the eclipse? Wolf Haven was open for sanctuary visits that day, and animal care staff reported that the wolves didn’t even bat an eye. Despite having 94% coverage at the sanctuary it was actually fairly light out, so they may not have even realized it was going on.

Wolf Haven Shows Appreciation for Volunteers

by Wolf Haven volunteer Sarah Elizabeth Crawford

It is often said that helping others is a reward in itself and many of those who volunteer at Wolf Haven International would strongly agree. Still, the staff at Wolf Haven never misses an opportunity to thank those who spend their time and energy trying to aid in their efforts to increase understanding, appreciation and conservation of wolves.

...wolf cookies!

…wolf cookies!

Enjoying potluck barbecue, complete with.....

Enjoying potluck barbecue, complete with…..

One way Wolf Haven expresses its appreciation is by hosting a yearly Volunteer Appreciation event. The event varies from year to year; however, this summer volunteers and their guests were invited to a barbecue at the sanctuary. The festivities began with viewings of a special video made honoring the wolves who have passed away in the previous year, giving volunteers a chance to say goodbye to the animals they have cherished, many since their first days at the Haven. The video also introduced newly added residents, such as the four Mexican gray and eight red wolf pups born this Spring.

The author making a wolf popsicle.

The author making a wolf popsicle.

 

Making delicious smelling sicles.

Making delicious smelling sicles.

Adding water to the concoction.

Adding water to the concoction.

Afterwards, guests donned disposable gloves and dug deep into buckets of hot dog bits, venison biscuits, and clam chunks. Don’t be too alarmed by the spread – these delicacies were layered into cups and frozen into popsicles to be given out to the wolves as a delicious summer treat. The real feast came after, when everyone (the humans, that is), gathered for an outdoor picnic, enjoying a light summer breeze and each other’s company.

Sierra showing off her popsicle.

Sierra showing off her popsicle.

Cindy Irwin, Director of Education and Volunteer Services shares anecdotes with volunteers.

Cindy Irwin, Director of Education and Volunteer Services shares anecdotes with volunteers.

The event ended with stories from volunteers depicting their experiences at Wolf Haven, and heartfelt expressions of gratitude from staff. During the speeches, the wolves added their own voices as they collectively sang out, reminding each of us of the cause that continues to bring us all together.

Could you be a Wolf Haven volunteer? Want to learn more? Send an email to Wolf Haven’s Director of Volunteer Services, Cindy Irwin, at cirwin@wolfhaven.org.

 

Girl Scouts learn about “camping with carnivores”

Pamela Maciel and Chris Montera of Wolf Haven with a map of Washington that displays where wolf packs reside. in the state

Pamela Maciel and Chris Montera of Wolf Haven show where wolf packs reside in the state.

by Faye Peebles
Education Coordinator, Wolf Haven International

Wolf Haven staff describe different animal skulls to the Girl Scout campers.

Wolf Haven staff describe different animal skulls to the Girl Scout campers.

As we set up our table, very much as if we are at a booth event or our own docent table back at Wolf Haven, people start coming down the gravel path from the parking lot. We are in one corner of the large opening. In the center is a round fire pit with benches four deep on all sides.  In the corner opposite are two tables end to end with the makings of Campfire Cones on them.

You may be asking what is a Campfire Cone?  It is a common Girl Scout campfire treat.  How do I know this (aside from being a Girl Scout myself)?  Chris, Pam, and I are at Girl Scouts of Western Washington’s (GSWW) center in Dupont, Washington.  We are  guest speakers at the second Fireside Friday of this summer. GSWW-Dupont began Fireside Fridays as a way to bring environment-related learning to Girl Scout families in a fun way and get some use out of their fire pit. The purpose of Wolf Haven’s presence is to talk about being safe while recreating in carnivore country and briefly talk about what to do in the event of an encounter with wildlife.

As families, GSWW volunteers and staff come in, they greet those they know and then the kids get excited. They see our table full of skulls, the life-size coyote and gray wolf standees, and our Camping with Carnivores sign.

Quickly the table is surrounded by children of  varying ages, eager to find out what we have, share with us what they know, and see how they physically “size up” to wolves.

Before we know it, the group’s attention is being called for and the campfire is starting.  After a welcome from the lead volunteer and a couple of campfire songs, (yes, Chris, Pam, and I participated to the best of our ability), we get started.

Moving among our guests, we ask the group to be skull detectives with us.  An animal’s skull can tell us what types of food it eats, which sense is most important for survival, and roughly its size. Paw prints, along with the skull information, help the group identify the animals, all of which are native to Washington.

With a general understanding of the carnivores in our state, we take the group through a lesson in responsible hiking/camping/recreating and then demonstrate the good vs. bad ways to react if a person comes upon wildlife.

Faye holds up a wolf skull replica explains features.

Faye holds up a wolf skull replica as Pam explains features of that species.

Finally, we are able to enjoy the Campfire Cones as more questions are asked and answered (incidentally, a campfire cone is a waffle cone filled with marshmallows, chocolate, sprinkles, peanuts, etc., wrapped in foil and heated over a fire for a short time. Everything melts together and you enjoy like an ice cream cone.) Overall, a great time is had by all, including these three Wolf Haven staff.

Faye Peebles with Girl Scout's Woman of Distinction award.

Faye Peebles – Woman of Distinction

Editor’s Note:  Faye is too modest to mention this in her blog post, but she was recently selected as a Girl Scout Woman of Distinction. She received the award from two ambassador Girl Scouts at a May 4 ceremony in Tacoma, WA.

Goodbye Sequra

Sequra's first Wolf Haven adoption photo - 2005

One of earliest Wolf Haven “adoption” photos of Sequra – 2005

by Wendy Spencer, director of Animal Care

It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our long-time resident and friend, Sequra.

Over the course of the last year we saw a slow decline in Sequra’s overall well-being. She had some generalized stiffness, muscle atrophy, weakness in her backend, and other issues that come with old age (loss of visual and auditory acuity, lethargy, change in appetite).  One of the most notable changes in Sequra was the gradual onset of what we can only assume was a canine form of dementia.  In the early stages, she would present with what seemed to be disorientation or confusion, and towards the end of her life, she spent countless hours “patrolling” the perimeter of her enclosure at a leisurely walk.

For months we closely monitored her behavior and given the fact that she engaged regularly with her enclosure mate, Lakota, and was excited for food and enrichment, we determined that she was still experiencing good quality of life. However, during the week of July 24, we noticed a significant change. Mobility was becoming more of an issue for her, and despite pain management, she seemed to be in discomfort. It became increasingly difficult for her to lie down and once she did, she struggled to get herself upright again. Her once voracious appetite began to wane and her overall zest for life seemed to be fading.

Lakota & Sequra

Lakota & Sequra

During the morning walk-through on July 29, animal care staff found Sequra lying in her deckpen, unable to stand. She tried numerous times and when she finally did manage to get herself upright, she was weak and her breath was labored. She stood only a moment before slumping back into a prone position. In consultation with our veterinarian, we talked through our options and sadly, they were limited. Anytime we are faced with a difficult end of life decision, we weigh our options very carefully and we agonize over whether or not it is the right thing to do. In Sequra’s case we determined that the kindest thing we could do for her was to help her pass on.

Looking into her clouded eyes as she laid panting on the cool floor of her deckpen, she seemed ready to go and as her caretakers, we felt obliged to honor her. Sequra passed peacefully in the comfort of her enclosure with the help of her familiar caretakers and most importantly, her canine friend, Lakota, close by.

As I watched her take her last breath, I thought back to the day we brought Sequra to Wolf Haven. She was just two years old at the time and had been rescued from a difficult situation. She was skinny and afraid and spent the first few weeks with her tail tucked as she hid behind the snowberry bushes in her enclosure whenever staff was present. In time, she regained her sense of self and it made our hearts happy to see her thrive in her new home. Over the years, Sequra was paired with three different males and she was kind, affectionate and a steadfast friend to each. Generosity of spirit and kindness of heart is the legacy she leaves (as well as her unique food caching skills).

Sequra's final adoption photo - 2016

Sequra’s final adoption photo – 2016

Rest in peace, beautiful Sequra.

Happy National Volunteer Week!

Volunteer designed frame for wolf photos

Volunteer designed frame for wolf photos

by Cindy Irwin, Director of Volunteer Services, Wolf Haven International

Wolf Haven volunteers help to create a better world for wolves and people in many ways. Just as the wolf pack depends upon one another for survival, Wolf Haven depends on volunteers to help us accomplish our goals.

Here are some of many activities our volunteers are involved with that support our mission, “to conserve and protect wolves and their habitat”.

Volunteers Becky & Kaye prepare wolf posters for education programs.

Volunteers Becky & Kaye prepare material for education programs.

Volunteer guide talks to group about wolves.

Volunteer guide talks to group about wolves.

• Provide our guests with a chance to see sanctuary animals and learn about wolf behavior

• Get their hands dirty in the ground to help create a beautiful landscape

• Staff information tables that provide additional information about wolf behavior

•Ask for donations to further the work of the sanctuary

• Serve as a board member for Wolf Haven

• Use artistic talents to support our events & fundraisers

Volunteer Suzanne talks to visitors about prairie plants.

Volunteer Suzanne talks to visitors about prairie plants.

• Create unique or smelly “enrichment” for the resident animals

• Guide guests through the prairie so they can learn about the native plants and animals

• Provide information about wolf conservation throughout the community at schools, churches, fairs,  and prisons

• Give visitors a memorable experience at our sanctuary

<em>Volunteer Kevin discusses nonlethal deterrents to keep predators from livestock.

Volunteer Kevin discusses nonlethal deterrents to keep predators from livestock.

 

 

 

Could you be a Wolf Haven volunteer? Want to learn more? Send an email to Wolf Haven’s Director of Volunteer Services, Cindy Irwin, at cirwin@wolfhaven.org.

Volunteers tend to the enrichment garden in wolf sanctuary.

Volunteers tend to the enrichment garden in wolf sanctuary.

Wolf Loaf Redux (or, how to build a better loaf)

by Brennan Stoelb, Animal Care Specialist, Wolf Haven International

Sequra, a 14-year old female wolfdog enjoys her loaf.

Sequra, a 14-year old female wolfdog enjoys her loaf.

Lakota, a male wolf, takes a leisurely approach to dining.

Lakota, a male wolf, takes a leisurely approach to dining.

It has been almost two years since I last wrote about wolf “loaf.” As you may or may not recall, Wolf Haven is part of a program called Sustainable Solutions. Their goal is to reduce food waste caused by unsold products. By connecting animal facilities like Wolf Haven and food stores, meat that would normally be disposed of in a landfill or a rendering plant can be utilized. Disposing of unsold food items costs the stores money. Animal rescues often have a never-ending need for meat. Through Sustainable Solutions, both party’s needs are met, while cost and waste can be reduced.

Wolf Haven volunteer Marinka helps Brennan makes loaves

Wolf Haven volunteer Marinka helps Brennan sort the meat & makes loaves

Every Friday, two animal care staff hop into our trusty white cargo van, head to a popular food store and collect roughly 800-900 lbs. of scrap meat. This meat ranges from unusable items such as bacon, ham, and other processed meats, to usable steak, chicken, and beef. We do not feed processed meats due to the high fat and sodium content; on average, I would say that half of the meat is usable.

After we sort through the meat, we need to feed it to the wolves efficiently. Originally we made loaf in disposable, paper food trays (like you get French fries in at a fair). We would pack the bottom with ground beef, lay on a piece of chicken, and top it off with a steak. Once formed, each loaf was put in the freezer. This yielded a roughly 2 lb. loaf that was easy to feed and utilized as much of the good meat as possible. When we were ready to feed the loaf, we pulled it from the freezer to defrost and then had to remove the food trays, often stuck to the meat. That was Wolf Loaf; we now enter Wolf Loaf 2.0!

Brennan loads a tray of individual loaves

Brennan loads a tray of individual loaves

In mid-summer, I began looking at ways to store the loaf better in our small freezer. Meat that we purchase plus the often-present deer carcasses used for feeding take up a lot of space. Add a couple of 50-gallon tubs for loaves, and you’re nearly out of room.  A lot of vertical space wasn’t utilized, so a shelf made sense. We purchased two bread carts for storing the loaf, as well as their corresponding metal trays.

We also wanted to get away from using paper food trays. We didn’t like the waste they produced, as well as time (maybe 10 minutes total) lost removing them from the loaf. My previous experience at another wolf facility led us to start using bread pans. We could pack the ground beef, chicken, and steak into the bread pan and turn it over on a tray. We then put the loaf tray on the rack and freeze them. Step two complete!

Feeding scrap beef provided some challenges. When tossing the scrap meat over the fence, pieces inevitably got stuck in the fence, which the person feeding had to dislodge.  As good as our throwing arms may be, pieces of meat also got stuck in branches and taken away by ravens.  Reducing waste in the form of lost meat was another huge factor.

The art of making loaves

The art of making loaves

By combining the donated meat and scrap beef, we can make bigger loaves and go from a 2 lb. loaf to a 4 lb. loaf easily. Feeding 4 lb. loaves twice a week equals 8 lbs. Since we had been feeding 4 lbs. of scrap beef and 2 lb. loaf twice a week, each wolf still gets the same amount of meat.

With all the pieces in place, we are now on our fifth week of feeding the new loaves. This week will be our first time not feeding scrap beef. With this new system, we hope to reduce waste and become more efficient, a plus for humans and wolves!

Partially thawed loaves ready to give to the wolves

Partially thawed loaves are ready to give to the wolves