The Weekly Wolf

I spent six years living with the wolves of Mission:Wolf.
Each Monday, this page will feature a new photograph and story of these wolves.

October 26, 2009

Mowgli's Pumpkin 


Mowgli is a somewhat reclusive and aloof wolf, whose bright yellow eyes and dark black coat have made him one of the most striking wolves at Mission:Wolf.

Mowgli was raised by an adult female wolf named “Granny” Raven along with his brother Ned and another male pup named Druid. As the boys matured, Mowgli took over the alpha male position in the pack, while Ned became the beta and Druid became the omega. The four wolves lived in relative harmony for years, impressing visitors with their close-knit family structure. However, when “Granny” Raven passed away in 2000, the boys were thrown into turmoil. Mowgli managed to keep his alpha status, but Ned and Druid weren’t quite as content with their roles. During the winter of 2003, Ned and Druid ganged up against Mowgli and challenged him for leadership. Had they been in the wild, Ned and Druid would have dispersed from the pack and avoided any conflict with Mowgli. But because they were in a fence, Ned and Druid were forced to confront Mowgli head-on. Despite the best efforts of the staff to diffuse the situation quickly, Mowgli was injured and kicked out of the pack.

While recovering from his wounds in a nearby enclosure, Mowgli obsessed over getting back to Ned and Druid to show them that he was still the boss. He only began to settle down when a female white wolf-dog named Spirit was introduced into the bottom half of his enclosure. Mowgli quickly started to focus his attention on her rather than on Ned and Druid. After spending only two weeks living fence-to-fence, Mowgli and Spirit were so enamored with each other that the staff opened the gate between them. They rushed off up the hill together and have been loving mates ever since.

In honor of Halloween, this week I decided to include two pictures in the Weekly Wolf. It was Mowgli’s bright eyes and stunning white markings that inspired me to carve this jack-o-lantern in his likeness.

Mowgli's Pumpkin 

October 19, 2009



Selway is a petite, but powerful, female wolf living at the Mission:Wolf refuge. Selway was born in Idaho, and spent her first seven years living at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana. There, she lived as a part of the Gallatin pack until June of 2003 when she and another female were separated due to conflicts with the other wolves. The Discovery Center did not have an enclosure for the girls, so Mission:Wolf agreed to take them in.

We planned to slowly introduce Selway and Katimik to two male wolves, Ned and Druid. Even though we believed the boys and girls would get along together, you can never be sure of captive wolves’ reactions to each other. So, Selway and Katimik were placed fence-to-fence with Ned and Druid to see what they would do.

As soon as the girls were set free in their new enclosure, they ran up to the fence and began flirting with Ned and Druid. They spent the next week strutting along the fence, trying to catch the boys’ eyes. With the competition for Ned and Druid’s attentions, both Selway and Katimik decided that they wanted to be in charge. In the wild, the girls would have split up and started their own packs, but the fences kept them in and they fought over leadership. We decided to separate Selway and Katimik to prevent any serious injury.

While Katimik was left with Ned and Druid, Selway has found a happy home with another bachelor wolf named Guinness. We have learned over the years since her arrival that Selway has a sweet, gentle disposition. She is curious about visitors, and will warily come up to the fence to investigate, but only when Guinness is nearby. Selway has a huge appetite for raw meat, stealing as much from Guinness as she can. She has also turned into the refuge gossip – being the first to howl about anything and everything.

October 12, 2009



Kawh is a huge, black male wolf living at the Mission:Wolf refuge. He was born on April 18, 1995.Normally, when mother wolves are ready to give birth they dig a den or clean one from the previous year. Kawh’s mother, Whisper, attempted to make such a den but ran into a boulder that prevented her from digging very far. Instead of finding a new spot, she birthed her puppies in a small depression at the base of a tree. Whisper was an inexperienced mother and frequently left the pups exposed to the extremely cold April weather. Of the five pups born, only three survived.

Kawh grew up in one of Mission:Wolf’s last large packs, commonly known as the “Driveway Five.” He had the size and brawn of an alpha, but lived most of his life as the beta (second-in-command) male. Even while defering to the Beorn (the alpha male),Kawh constantly stalked, chased and beat up Skinwalker (the omega) to release his frustration at having to follow Beorn’s lead.

Then, in the winter of 2002, Kawh saw his chance to become the alpha.Beorn had been injured when a stick got wedged in his mouth and Kawh kicked him out of the pack.The victorious Kawh was very proud of himself and happily took the fiery alpha female, Tierra, as his own mate.Most wolves maintain their alpha status through respect, but Kawh soon proved to be a tyrant, bullying the other wolves into submission. Within a year, Kawh pushed his luck too far and was challenged by the other male wolves in the pack. In order to prevent injury, the Mission:Wolf staff decided to separate the males.

For six years Kawh and Tierra enjoyed a peaceful life together without having to worry about any interlopers. They became the most expressive and loving couple at the refuge, nuzzling each other and walking side by side all year long. Sadly, in April 2009 Tierra passed away. Now Kawh, graying with age, is on his own for the first time in his life. He spends his days keeping a close eye on the new whipper-snappers (black and white wolf-dogs pups rescued this summer) who live just down the hill, and chasing magpies away from his food stashes.