Some of the smallest animals on site are wolf puppies that were born at the end of April. They were planned to be moved to the International Wolf Center in Ely; but when they were born during the COVID-19 outbreak, it seemed safer to keep them right here.
Two of the pups have already joined a pack, and three more will join in before the year is over, but for now, they are being primarily parented by a few dogs.
“One of the things that’s amazing about wolves is that wolves will accept unrelated pups without any issue at all,” said Wildlife Science Center Executive Director Peggy Callahan. “They are hormonally geared to parent, and that doesn’t matter if [the pups] are theirs or not.”
These pups will join a research project about how wolves became dogs. In that project they will be spending time with people. To move through their natural fear of people, Callahan has created a way for visitors to meet and spend time with these wolves.
“As part of their socialization, we like to expose them to people they don’t know in a very controlled setting. We have a long conversation with folks before they interact with these guys to make sure their behavior is as consistent as possible with ours, so we aren’t running the risk of scaring them,” said Callahan.
So for now, these small wolves spend time with people and dogs, eating the roadkill deer that makes up a large part of their diet. Callahan hopes that getting a rare chance to interact with wolves will change and inspire people.
“I really hope, that in this state in particular, people value our natural resources,” said Callahan. “I really want people to value wild lands and public lands as much as possible, and maybe I’m cheating to use these cute little faces to do it, but I don’t care.”