Haliburton Forest Wolf Center – Wolves Release Update

 

Wolves venture further from home

January 3, 2013 | Filed under: Feature,Haliburton County,News | Posted by: 

Haida (left), the pack alpha at the Haliburton Forest Wolf Centre, with one of the pups. Haida was shot and killed by a motorist after he was released from his enclosure along with three other wolves during a vandal attack on New Year’s Eve. / Photo by John Cavers

By Matthew Desrosiers

The wolves released from Haliburton Forest’s Wolf Centre are still on the loose despite attempts to return them to their enclosure.

Of the four wolves that were released, only three are believed to still be alive. Granite, the alpha female, Luna and Lonestar had been seen around the Wolf Centre since the days of their release, however reports and sightings in the last several days have only included the two juvenile wolves, according to the Forest’s Facebook page.

“As of last Friday [Jan. 4], all account tell us of two wolves, Luna and Lonestar,” Peter Schleifenbaum, owner and manager of the Forest, wrote in his Facebook update. “There is no Granite.”

Schleifenbaum received four independent reports that one of the three wolves was injured with an open wound, and was limping.

Based on the sightings of just the two wolves in recent days, and evidence of blood in the wolves’ bed, Schleifenbaum said it could be Granite.

“I have to assume that Granite was the injured wolf and that she did succumb to her injuries,” he wrote. “At this point I do not want to jump to any conclusions and connect her injury and disappearance with the shooting of Haida.”

Haida is the pack’s alpha male, was the fourth wolf released from the centre. Forest staff found evidence that he was shot and killed by a passing motorist last week.

“If this is not discouraging enough, we are also concerned that the reports of the two juvenile wolves now come from further afield,” he wrote. “As the crow flies, their last location, this evening [Jan. 8], was approximately eight kilometres south of the Wolf Centre.”

While this may appear a significant distance, Schleifenbaum wrote that a wolf pack’s range is large and that the eight-kilometre distance could be travelled in an hour.

Staff have built a second, smaller enclosure within the wolf centre’s main enclosure to house the remaining pack members. That way they can open the fences in hopes Luna and Lonestar will return to the pack.

“We are convinced the ‘outsiders’, if given the chance, will return and rejoin their pack members,” Schleifenbaum wrote. “This may never happen, but it could also occur  tomorrow, next week or who knows when.”

“As long as Luna and Lonestar are in the area, we will literally keep the doors open.”

Police are investigating the attack on Haliburton Forest’s Wolf Centre which took place on Dec. 31.

According to an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) press release, sometime between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. the fences of the wolf enclosure were cut, allowing the four wolves to escape into the surrounding forest.

Schleifenbaum said in a release that the enclosure consists of two fences. The first is a 10-foot chain-link fence, while the outer-fence is a 12-foot high-tensile fence. The culprits identified a location of the enclosure where the two fences were only 15 feet apart due to the landscape. Normally there are 30-40 feet between the fences.

“What is quite clear is that this was not only a deliberate, but also a very well-planned action,” he said in the release. “The timing was impeccable.”

Schleifenbaum said with all the people around the Wolf Centre on New Year’s Eve it would be hard to identify suspicious activity. The location of the cut fences was also away from view of the centre.

While the investigation is ongoing, Schleifenbaum suspects members of a PETA-like organization or individuals with a zeal to liberate captive animals.

“What these individuals in their misguided efforts do not realize in this instance is that they most probably rang the death knell for the wolves that [were] ‘liberated’ – unless we are able to recapture them,” he said. “Our wolves were born in captivity. While they have the instinct to hunt and kill, they never had the opportunity to learn or exercise these skills in their enclosure where they were fed dead carcasses whenever they required food.”

“Now, out on their own in the forest, they will have to fend for themselves and quickly, since at the present temperatures they are burning calories fast.”

The wolves left the enclosure well-fed and in good condition, he said. They should be able to survive three to four weeks in the cold, but after that will begin to starve.

As for the pack of wolves still inside the centre, Schleifenbaum said they’re in turmoil without their leaders.

“They’re timid, obviously in turmoil. It’s a bunch of teenagers that are leaderless.”

Schleifenbaum said the pieces are coming together thanks to tips from the public. He is offering a $3,000 reward to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest of those responsible for releasing the wolves.

Police are investigating an attack on Haliburton Forest’s Wolf Centre which took place Dec. 31.

According to an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) press release, sometime between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. the fences of the wolf enclosure were cut, allowing four wolves to escape into the surrounding forest.

The alpha pair, the two wolves who lead the pack, were among those who escaped.

Peter Schleifenbaum, owner and manager of the Forest, said in a release that the enclosure consists of two fences. The first is a 10-foot chain-link fence, while the outer-fence is a 12-foot high-tensile fence. The culprits identified a location of the enclosure where the two fences were only 15 feet apart due to the landscape. Normally there are 30-40 feet between the fences.

“What is quite clear is that this was not only a deliberate, but also a very well-planned action,” he said in the release. “The timing was impeccable.”

Schleifenbaum said with all the people around the Wolf Centre on New Year’s Eve, it would be hard to identify suspicious activity. The location of the cut fences was also away from view of the centre.

While the investigation is ongoing, Schleifenbaum suspects members of a PETA-like organization or individuals with a zeal to liberate captive animals.

“What these individuals in their misguided efforts do not realize in this instance is that they most probably rang the death knell for the wolves that [were] ‘liberated’ – unless we are able to recapture them,” he said. “Our wolves were born in captivity. While they have the instinct to hunt and kill, they never had the opportunity to learn or exercise these skills in their enclosure where they were fed dead carcasses whenever they required food.”

“Now, out on their own in the forest, they will have to fend for themselves and quickly, since at the present temperatures they are burning calories fast.”

The wolves left the enclosure well-fed and in good condition, he said. They should be able to survive three to four weeks in the cold, but after that will begin to starve.

There has already been one death among the wolves. Staff found a bloody drag-mark down a hill 200 metres from the Wolf Centre. After finding a cartridge and hair, they determined that the alpha, Haida, had been shot, killed and taken away by a passing motorist.

The remaining wolves are staying around the enclosure, but staff at the Forest have as yet been unable to get them back inside.

“The issue is opening the fences and getting the ones on the outside in, and not the ones on the inside out,” Schleifenbaum said. “We have all kinds of live trapping devices we have set up at the moment.”

Staff are unable to get close enough to the animals to use a tranquilizer, he said.

“I’m very hopeful we’ll be able to [recover them].”

As for the pack of wolves still inside the centre, Schleifenbaum said they’re in turmoil without their leaders.

“They’re timid, obviously in turmoil. It’s a bunch of teenagers that are leaderless.”

Schleifenbaum said the pieces are coming together thanks to tips from the public, but if anyone has further information about the incident, they can report it to him at the Forest or the OPP.

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