Riley's spirit continues in our hearts

Our friend Riley photo courtesy of Julie Lawrence/Wolf Haven

Our friend Riley
photo by Julie Lawrence/Wolf Haven International

It is with a heavy heart that Wolf Haven writes that our friend Riley passed away earlier this month. Riley was only seven years old and was healthy and happy. His passing was very sudden and unexpected and left us all in a state of great sadness.

During a routine morning walk through the sanctuary by animal care staff on Friday December 12, Riley was found lying on his side not moving. It was apparent that he had passed away during the night. The day before he died, Riley was his usual happy, playful self. Two weeks earlier he had been introduced to a new companion, a female wolf named Ukiah, whose brother had died. The two of them were forming a fast friendship and could be seen nose to nose wagging their tails, playing a little and lying quietly next to each other in the middle of their enclosure.

The day he passed he had been given a special treat, a small sheep carcass donated to Wolf Haven by a local farmer. Riley did not want to share the carcass with Ukiah at first. He kept chasing her off until he ate his fill and then he moved away to allow Ukiah to enjoy as well.

When Riley was found the following morning, his abdomen was acutely distended; an indication of gastric dilation volvulus (GDV), where the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself. We consulted our veterinarian about performing a necropsy in order to determine the cause of his death. The veterinarian felt that given all of the symptoms and the large amount of food Riley had quickly ingested the day before, a necropsy was not necessary. She explained that GDV, also known as torsion, evolves extremely quickly, making it nearly impossible to prevent and very difficult to treat successfully, especially in wild canids. Riley (as well as our other wolves) received carcasses on a regular basis without any ill-effects, so we are not sure why on this particular day it turned out to have fatal consequences.

Riley at rest

Riley at rest

It has been an honor to care for Riley and watch him blossom with his first companion Siri and his burgeoning new friendship with Ukiah. He was a little shy and was also playful and mischievous. He will be greatly missed.

Thank you for your generosity, care and support of Riley while he was with us at Wolf Haven. His spirit will continue on in our hearts.

Dec. World of Wolves: The killing derbies

Young Mazama pocket gophers struggle to find their place in a new world

Mazama pocket gopher

Mazama pocket gopher

By Kim Flotlin, USFWS wildlife biologist

Mazama pocket gophers are another fascinating animal found at Wolf Haven (although rarely actually seen, since they primarily reside underground). The Mazama pocket gopher is both state and federally listed as threatened.

USFWS wildlife biologist Kim Flotin has written an entertaining, informative blog about the challenges faced by both dispersing pocket gophers and college students.

Young Mazama pocket gophers struggle to find their place in a new world

A Ghostly Visit

Wolves in Vegas

By Skie Bender, Education Outreach Specialist, Wolf Haven International

Wolf Haven arrives in Sin City

Wolf Haven arrives in Sin City

I recently had the opportunity to present Wolf and Wildlife   Education programs at two REI (Recreational Equipment Incorporated) outdoor stores in Las Vegas, Nevada.

REI is a national retail co-op dedicated to “Inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.”

REI sells “Gear.” Lots and lots of gear. Gear for backpacking, hiking, camping, climbing, biking, paddling, and winter snow sports.

Are there wild wolves in Nevada?

Wolf-themed slot machine

Wolf-themed slot machine

Wolves historically have been a scarcity in Nevada. Though there never was an abundance of wolves, research shows that wolves did exist throughout the state, even in the very arid Southern Nevada. The last confirmed sighting of a wild gray wolf was in 1941 in Elko County (northeastern part of the state.) Currently, there are many wild wolf reported sightings – though none can be absolutely confirmed, due to the fact there is no definitive proof such as wild wolf scat, hair, carcasses or even field footage.

Desert Cactus

Desert cactus

There were never and probably never will be a lot of wolves due to the fact there is not a lot of suitable wolf habitat in Nevada. Western Nevada lacks elk and moose (wolf food) and is in short supply of water.

Currently, the nearest population of wolves to Nevada is in Idaho’s Boise and Sawtooth National Forests, about 100 miles north.

The gray wolf in Nevada remains protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. It is presently classified as a “game” animal.

REI Wolf & Wildlife Programs

 Boca Park REI

Boca Park REI

Boca Park REI

Not too far from the bright lights and loud sounds of the Las Vegas Strip, I presented at the Boca Park REI store. Just before ‘show time’, I found sanctuary inside the REI store, perusing the aisles, flipping through hiking books, spinning mountain bike tires, squishing the warm thickness of down sleeping bags. I felt so much more ‘at home’ in the nature inspired presence of outdoor gear, than in the superficial bright flashing marquee lights of Las Vegas casino consumerism.

7pm: time to share my passion and experience with wolves to an intimate crowd of about fifteen folks. The attendees were all adults, except for one very inquisitive elementary-aged schoolgirl that sat in the front row and asked a lot of very smart and eager questions. During the program, we had an in-depth dialogue about wolf families, pup development, the importance of wolf packs for socialization and working cooperatively to hunt ungulates (hoofed animals.) I showed video clips of Wolf Haven’s wolves’ scent-rolling on salmon and plucking feathers off of geese. At the end of the evening the schoolgirl said to me with shining wide eyes, “I hope to visit Wolf Haven one day.”

 Henderson REI

Henderson REI attendees

Henderson REI attendees

The next evening I drove 30-miles south of the Strip to present at the Henderson REI store. There was an overflow capacity crowd of more than 60 attendees. I was thrilled with the deep thought-provoking questions, comments and discussions that we had about wolf biology, behaviors, social structure, livestock conflict resolutions, and wolfdog differences and similarities.

The audience had such a thirst for knowledge about the too often misunderstood wolf, which led to a wonderful interactive dialogue flow that was maintained throughout the evening. The program lasted nearly two hours. Even after the program was officially over, a small group of people continued to ask more questions about wolves.

The very last touching comment was made by an intense college student that fervently shook my hand as he stated, “That was really great, I learned so much. I learned more tonight than I have during a whole semester in school! Thank you!”

Thank you to all who attended the REI Wolf & Wildlife Education programs in Las Vegas. A very special Thank You to Ashley Lee, the Market Outreach Coordinator for REI Las Vegas.

If you live in Washington State – Skie Bender will be presenting at REI in Olympia on Tues November 11th @ 7pm


REI, Olympia, WA
625 Black Lake Blvd SW #410, Olympia, WA 98502

The Huckleberry Pack


2012 photo of The Huckleberry Pack pups c/o WDFW

In the upcoming issue Wolf Tracks magazine, Wolf Haven executive director Diane Gallegos writes about the family of wolves known as the The Huckleberry Pack and the conflict that ensued following depredation of sheep placed in their territory. What can we learn from this scenario?

“Sheep dropped on top of a wolf pack in difficult terrain without proactive and diligent use of nonlethal deterrents resulted in a conflict that cost taxpayers and the livestock producer thousands
of dollars, and cost the endangered female wolf and dozens of sheep their lives.”

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