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!


December World of Wolves -Off chains and out of the kennel

Layla - Wolf Haven's newest resident

Layla – Wolf Haven’s newest resident

A new voice can be heard at Wolf Haven. Layla, a three-year old female, is an F1 wolfdog, or first generation, meaning that 50% of her DNA comes from a pure wolf (in this case her mother) and 50% from a domestic dog (her dad, a Malamute).

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.

November World of Wolves – All about the turkey

London enjoys a stuffed raw turkey.

London enjoys a stuffed raw turkey.

It’s the holiday season, when many of us will be getting together with family and friends. A big part of holiday traditions are the wonderful meals we share. It’s no different for the resident wolves at the sanctuary when they get their own turkey dinners .

Until Seattle smoke subsides, take steps to keep Fido safe, veterinarians say – Seattle Times

At Wolf Haven International, a wolf sanctuary in Tenino, Thurston County, staff members have already modified the wolves’ schedule this summer, mainly because of hot weather. Staff members feed them late at night,…

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)

Maternity Bat Boxes – by South Sound Prairies

Maternity bat box

Maternity bat box

Wolf Haven Bat Box Occupied by Maternity Colony

In 2012, a dozen bat boxes were erected at Wolf Haven International to enhance habitat for our 10 species of native bats. Since their installation, bats have readily taken up residence.

August 2018 World of Wolves – Cooling off in the summer heat

Herbsicle photo taken by Melissa Poinsett

Herbsicle photo taken by Melissa Poinsett

The wolves all have splash tubs to cool off in and they receive a fresh bucket of water daily. The enclosures have shady trees and shrubs plus a shelter for an optional “get-away”. But you might be surprised at some of the other creative ways that our animal care team find to give them a bit of respite from the heat.

Coyotes of Capistrano – DP (Dana Point) Times

Skie Bender shows skull models to interested youth.

Skie Bender shows skull models to interested youth.

Generally speaking, human confrontations with wolves are pretty rare in an urban environment because wolves live in forested habitats and retain a fear of humans, whereas coyotes have learned to survive close to humans because we provide them with a food source – whether intentionally or unintentionally.


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!