Posts Tagged ‘Wildlife Science Center’

Minnesota is known for its successful wolf recovery program.

But the native subspecies of Canis lupus is the Great Plains wolf (C.l. nubilus.)

It is a big game hunting wolf, and it is very well adapted to the severe continental climate of the Western Great Lakes.

It is not the best place in the world for the Mexican subspecies of C. lupus. The Mexican wolf (C. l. baileyi) evolved into the southwestern US  and Mexico. Neither of those places is quite like Minnesota in the winter time.

But there are Mexican wolves in Minnesota. At Forest Lake, a wolf research facility and zoological park called the Wildlife Science Center is working to conserve this subspecies. Currently, only about 150 Mexican wolves exist, and the Wildlife Science Center is working on finding ways to better increase its numbers.

The Mexican wolf is perhaps the smallest subspecies of wolf in North America. It is a golden retriever sized wolf that could easily be mistaken for a large coyote, which can also be found in Minnesota.

This resemblance to a coyote  is not trivial, especially for one particular Mexican wolf.

As I mentioned before, the Wildlife Science Center has Mexican wolves, and it had three bitch wolves in a single enclosure. Earlier this week some hooligans broke into the facility and did a Born Free with those three wolves.

Wolves tend to be nervous animals, and one of the wolves refused to leave the enclosure. Another was found within the grounds of the facility.

And one still remains on the lam (or it is lamb?)

Now, this particular wolf has never lived in the wild. The area where this wolf was released is not in the core wolf habitat in Minnesota, and what’s worse, she looks like a coyote.

Wolves may be protected in Minnesota. Coyotes are not.

It is feared that someone might mistake this rare wolf for a coyote and shoot her.

A wolf that has spent its whole life in a pen isn’t going to know about the dangers of roads. It is even more likely that this wolf will be hit by a car.

It is hoped that this errant wolf will return to her enclosure. Road-killed deer has been placed in the pen to bring her back.

Let’s hope she does come back. Most Mexican wolves are in captivity, and their genetic diversity is quite low. This is particularly true when it was decided that a major line of these wolves were wolf-dog hybrids. This line had been kept at a facility near Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Although it is not clear whether these wolves were actually hybrids or that their doggish appearance came through generations of captive breeding and being fed a domesticated animal diet, it was decided to euthanize every wolf in the line.

Every wolf in this subspecies is valuable. I don’t know why anyone would have released these wolves.  It may have been misinformed animal rights enthusiasts. Or it may have been anti-wolf extremists. Turn a wolf loose, and then the facility that keeps them gets a bad reputation.

Let’s just hope this wolf makes it back before something bad happens.


The Wildlife Science Center has been featured on television. I distinctly remember two episodes of Animal Planet’s Growing Up series were based upon animals that were being raised at the facility. It has also been featured on the History Channel’s MonsterQuest program.

Here is an example of some of the research that is performed at the center:


UPDATE: Good news. The wolf has been recaptured.

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