Volunteer of the Quarter – Kieran Lynch

by Dan Monn, Animal Care, Gift Shop & Volunteer Assistant

Wolf Haven International is very lucky to have an amazing and diverse group of volunteers. Our newest Volunteer of the Quarter, Kieran, also happens to be one of our youngest, yet the first day I met him, he told me he would have started much sooner if he could.  He had quite a wait to meet the age requirement (17), given he wanted to be a volunteer at Wolf Haven ever since visiting in the 5th grade.  Knowing his time commitments as a Senior at Black Hills High School with other interests, we are honored that he commits as much time volunteering at Wolf Haven as he does.

Managing his time between school, marching band and working toward his pilot’s license Kieran still spends most Sundays helping us at the docent table.  He does a great job engaging and interacting with our guests as they wait for their scheduled sanctuary visits.  He has a warm and friendly personality that makes him very approachable for any who are interested in learning a little more during their time with us.

Beyond his interactions with the guests, Kieran also does a lot to help around the grounds.  He arrives a couple hours before each docent shift to do some extra work. Usually it is a lot of weeding and pulling blackberry, though some Sundays our Sanctuary Manager Erik Wilber, will steal him to help with a special project.  This led to one of Kieran’s favorite memories.  Recently working with Erik, Kieran got to help with the preparation for our newest wolf enclosure.  This “glamorous” job involved brush clearing in preparation for Southgate Fence Inc. to set posts, hauling away limbs and clearing brambles and blackberry. He was excited to contribute as we work to provide more space and flexibility for the care of the wolves – and WE are excited to have the help of such a dedicated volunteer.

A wolf called London – blog by Jenny Landor

The Gift of Meat

By Kurtis Rattay, animal care assistant,  Wolf Haven

During this year’s holiday season, the animals at Wolf Haven International have been gifted with three large-scale donations. They all came from organizations looking for a waste-free way to dispose of high-quality meat that, despite being in good condition, could not be repurposed for human consumption. These donations not only kept the products from going to the landfill but saved Wolf Haven thousands of dollars on feeding costs and provided ethical nutrition for the sanctuary’s residents.

A small portion of the Crowd-Cow meat donation stored in our freezer.

A small portion of the Crowd-Cow meat donation stored in our freezer.

The first donation came from Crowd Cow, a company that connects consumers with independent ranches. The donated meat was either unsold or did not meet the standards set by the company. According to one Crowd Cow employee, their East Coast counterpart regularly donates unsellable meat to animal sanctuaries, and the Seattle-based company contacted Wolf Haven with the same intention. Animal Care staff happily drove down to Forest Grove, OR, to pick up 1,500 pounds of craft beef and chicken.

Raw Cat Food donation of their venison, chicken, beef and lamb stock

Raw Cat Food donation of venison, chicken, beef and lamb.

Only a week later, Animal Care staff drove back to Oregon and picked up a huge donation from an out-of-business pet food company specializing in raw cat food. The company had tried for a while to liquidate its products and had contacted several animal centers. The Wild Cat Sanctuary kindly redirected them to us.  We drove back to Wolf Haven with 2,500 pounds of frozen venison, beef, chicken and turkey.

Kurtis, Erik and Pam with confiscated elk

Animal care staff Kurtis, Erik and Pam sorting confiscated elk.


The most recent donation came from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Wendy Lowe, a law enforcement officer with WDFW, generously thought about benefiting the wolves when hundreds of pounds of elk meat needed to be disposed-off, following a now-settled poaching case.

Wolf Haven staff unloading the gift of meat

Wolf Haven staff unloading the gift of meat.


Donations are the lifeblood of nonprofit organizations. Although a precise total amount of savings cannot be calculated, it is safe to put the number in the thousands of dollars. With substantial sanctuary projects on the horizon, these saved costs can then be allocated to improve sanctuary habitat and infrastructure, which in turn increases the quality of life for the animals.

Lakota enjoying his frozen loaf, made from the donated meat

Lakota enjoying his frozen loaf, made from the donated meat.

Wolf Haven is deeply grateful to have been chosen by these organizations—and the wolves and coyotes who call the sanctuary home seem to appreciate the gift as well!


Wolf howls at Wolf Haven blog post – Paula Wild

Ladyhawk howls

Ladyhawk howls

Author Paula Wild’s latest book, Return of the Wolf: Conflict and Coexistence, was published in October 2018 and became a bestseller in British Columbia.  She visited Wolf Haven International in 2016, visited the sanctuary and spent time with Wendy Spencer, our director of operations and Erik Wilber, sanctuary director. Here is a blog post about the howls that she heard while here.

Salmon Saturday

Lakota leaves his salmon to steal Sierra's fish.

Lakota leaves his salmon to steal Sierra’s fish.by Marisa Pushee, Animal Care Assistant, Wolf Haven International

Merlin carries his salmon

Merlin carries his salmon.

Here at Wolf Haven International, we feed a wide range of raw meats to our resident animals. Whenever possible, we source meat that would otherwise go to waste. One of the special treats we offer the wolves is salmon. In the photo above, Lakota abandons his salmon in favor of stealing one from his companion, Sierra. Luckily, she promptly reclaimed his abandoned fish.

Pike Place Fish Co. donates the salmon. The world famous seafood vendor at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington is known for its “flying fish presentations” where their fishmongers throw the fish in the air when they make a sale.  While the demonstration draws in the crowds at the market, the rough handling is too much for expensive salmon.

Bucket of salmon

Bucket of salmon.

This is where chum salmon enters as a stunt double for the wild king salmon. These stunt fish are thrown in the air several times before they are discarded. As these fish cannot be sold, Pike Place Fish Co. donates them to Wolf Haven International and other wildlife facilities. The salmon is deeply frozen for several days, and the extreme low temperatures of -5 degrees Fahrenheit kill any microorganisms that could pose a risk for the wolves, including Neorickettsia helminthoeca, the bacteria responsible for producing a fatal gastrointestinal infection in domestic dogs. We are only able to feed our animals the wild salmon because it has been deeply frozen in a commercial freezer.

Lonnie rolling on his salmon

Lonnie rolling on his salmon.

The wolves love the novelty of the fish. The salmon also provide high quality protein, fat, and minerals to the wolves. We are so happy to provide this exciting and nutritious food to the wolves and thank Pike Place Fish Co. for their support.




Lobos – A Wolf Family Returns To The Wild

Lobos – A Wolf Family Returns to the Wild

This children’s book about a family of Mexican gray wolves (lobos) is a follow-up to Wolf Haven: Sanctuary and the Future of Wolves in North America, (2016, Sasquatch Books). It is a hopeful conservation story about a family of endangered Mexican wolves who begin their lives at Wolf Haven, are transferred to Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch in New Mexico, and ultimately released into the wild in Mexico.

The nonfiction story by Brenda Peterson is illustrated with color photography by Annie Marie Musselman, both of whom were the principals behind the earlier Wolf Haven book. With easy to read text and heart-warming pictures, young people will enjoy learning about wolves and the challenge of reintroducing an endangered species to the wild. Lobos is scheduled for release in mid-August 2018, and prerelease orders can be placed with Amazon, Sasquatch Books, Penguin Random House and other sellers. It will also be available at Wolf Haven’s physical gift shop and website following publication.

You can read reviews of both books here:

Lobos: A Wolf Family Returns to the Wild

Wolf Haven: Sanctuary and the Future of Wolves in North America

by Kim Young, Director of Communications
(This revised article was originally published in Summer 2018 issue of Wolf Tracks,
a Wolf Haven International members-only magazine)

Ways to beat the heat if you’re a wolf

Now that we are deep into “the dog days of summer”, I thought it would be nice to take a look at some of the ways that the wolves at Wolf Haven get a little relief from the high temps.  Our residents all have shelters where they can retreat, plus their enclosures have shady trees, shrubs or other vegetation in them. Of course they all get daily pails of fresh water to drink and big metal splash tubs in which to take a dip. Here is a family of Mexican gray wolves sharing a tub.

Our animal care team also provide weekly enrichment of various kinds to the wolves. Enrichment items may or may not be edible – their primary purpose is to introduce something unusual and novel for the wolves to investigate and explore with their intellect and senses. Even something as seemingly simple as a stick with essential oil on it can be used successfully as enrichment.

During the hot days that we are currently experiencing, it’s nice to combine the enrichment item with something that is cool and refreshing, as well as unique. Bloodsicles anyone?   Male gray wolf Lonnie with his bloodsicle treat.

Or how about a tasty chicken footsicle, which combines smooth, slippery ice with crunchy, well, feet.

So the next time you feel like complaining about the heat, take a tip from our creative animal care team and the wolves!

Kim Young, Director of Communications



by Skie Bender, Education Outreach California, Wolf Haven International
Skulls Photos Credit:  Kristin Olivarez

How exhilarating and simultaneously challenging it is to capture the attention of an audience that ranges in age from small children to adults.

First, I connect with the squirmy youngsters that are seated on the floor. I must immediately encapsulate these spirited fresh minds, or else the single file focus of the room will rapidly dissipate.

I begin by asking the children,

Who has a dog?
Who has seen a coyote at their home, school or park?
Has anybody seen a wolf?

I click the laser remote to the first slide, which is always a video of wolves that fills the entire screen, so everyone is instantly awed by the up close and personal beauty and majesty of these apex canids.

The Wolves, Coyotes and Dogs Education Program contains a plethora of pictures and videos. If a picture is worth 1000 words, than showing these striking images as I speak of biological, sociological and ethological facts about canids greatly enhances the learning process.

Using sight and sound to keep attention

Using sight and sound to capture attention

How does one talk about all this to a five year-old child?
By showing, not telling.

On the topic of ethology I show the children through body language that we too are human animals. For example, I ask them;

Who plays sports?
What do you play…soccer…okay…when you score a goal…
what do you do, how do you act?

 The kids proceed to show me how they raise their arms above their head in a winning cheer, with a big smile on their face, their eyes are wide and staring confident and direct at me.

And if you are sad, show me what you look like?

The children curl inward and look down with a frown.
I now shift focus back to the videos.

Skie shows skull models to young people

Skie shows skull models to young people

Let’s watch the wolves body language and see if we can interpret what they are saying!

While the children intently study videos of Wolf Haven’s wolves playfully jaw wrestling, play bowing, tail wagging, tail up, tail tucked, growling over a piece of food, scent rolling, howling, and splashing excitedly in their tubs, I engage the adults in the audience by interjecting scientific information.

In this collaborative participatory style of communication we proceed to learn about the differences and similarities between wolves, dogs and coyotes, the family pack, pup development, endangered wolves, the important roles that wolves and coyotes serve in an ecosystem, urban coexistence with coyotes, canid communication (which includes body, vocal and scent expression), and of course what they eat in the wild and what we feed our animals at Wolf Haven. We conclude the program with a video of a wolf crunching down on a favorite summer treat – a tuna popsicle!

Now I invite everyone to come up and examine the skulls, antlers and tracks.

Please, touch touch touch! And ask ask ask!
I love answering questions!

The program is not over until I am back in my car driving away. My intent never wanes. I hope to have connected with new people. I hope to have left a lasting lifelong impression, not only for reverence of wolves, coyotes and dogs, not only for wildlife, but for life itself!


Enhancing the Teaching and Learning Experience with Wolf Haven

Faye and Chris at Salmon Festival in Leavenworth, WA

Faye and Chris at Salmon Festival in Leavenworth, WA

Wolf Haven International’s education team has been working hard to improve our interpretive skills as a way to enhance the visitor experience through more engaging and thought-provoking interactions. To help with this, a few of the team have gone through national trainings and programs for interpreters and educators.

Over the past winter, Faye Peebles, Wolf Haven’s Education Coordinator, took part in the National Geographic Educator Certification program and is now a Nat Geo Certified Educator

The purpose of this certificate is to “learn about the National Geographic mission, how to teach interdisciplinarily through various scales and perspectives, and the National Geographic Learning Framework—all while applying these ideas to their own work and collaborating with educators worldwide.”  This knowledge will help to improve Wolf Haven’s education presentations.  If you’d like to learn more about the Nat Geo Educator Certificate, please visit NatGeoEd.org/Certification.

Cindy Irwin gives an educational presentation at Eastside Preparatory School in Seattle

Cindy Irwin gives an educational presentation at Eastside Preparatory School in Seattle

Last spring, Outreach Coordinator Chris Montero and one of our education volunteers, Karen Lyons, completed a National Association of Interpreters (NAI) Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) program and are now certified interpreters.  This spring, Faye Peebles and Cindy Irwin, Director of Education and Volunteer Services at Wolf Haven, also completed the NAI CIG program and are now certified interpreters.  The intent of this course is “that almost anyone can learn enough about interpretive techniques to improve the way they communicate with others.” The knowledge from this course has been implemented in almost every aspect of Wolf Haven’s interpretation and education programs.

If you are interested in scheduling an education program, either onsite or offsite, with Wolf Haven’s education team, email education@wolfhaven.org or call 360.264.4695 x223.