Welcome to the BWCAW blog of Ely Outfitting Company and Boundary Waters Guide Service!

See our websites at ElyOutfittingCompany.com and BoundaryWatersGuideService.com.

We are a Boundary Waters canoe trip outfitter, Quetico outfitter, and guide service in Ely, Minnesota. This Boundary Waters blog shares photos, stories, humor, skills, and naturalist insights from guiding in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

Most entries are from our founder and head guide, Jason Zabokrtsky. He is the Boundary Waters Blogger.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Female Wolf, Maya, Dies at the International Wolf Center


Maya, a seven-year-old resident female wolf at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, was euthanized Tuesday after a veterinary determination that a compound fracture and dislocation to her left hind leg could not be repaired. 

The decision to euthanize Maya was made in accordance with requirements of the USDA Animal Welfare Act and an organizational euthanasia policy approved by the Center’s Vet Care Team. The Center would specifically like to thank veterinarians Stacy Skoraczewski and Peter Hughes for their immediate help at a critical time.

“This was a very difficult decision for the staff and vet care team,” said Executive Director, Mary Ortiz. “Maya has been an important member of the Exhibit Pack since 2004, and she will be missed by us all.”

In the past several months there have been several tests of status from the younger pack members towards the dominant male, Grizzer, but Maya has shown intense dominance control over the entire pack. The injury occurred sometime after 5 pm on Monday, when the final daily check on the wolves revealed pack dynamics to be calm. 

Challenging older animals for dominance is a common behavior in wolves. Wild wolf packs are typically composed of parents and their offspring, so testing may be less intense than in captivity. The inherent rank order behavior begins as young as 13 days of age, and is often seen when older pack members begin to age and show weakness, opening an opportunity for younger animals to move up in rank. 

Due to a recent cold spell, no active surveillance cameras on the pack were live to capture the specific incident that led to Maya’s injury. Icy conditions in the enclosure may have been a factor, as active running animals can slip on ice creating an injury that could be viewed as a weakness. Maya did have several bite wounds apparent upon inspection, which may indicate involvement of other wolves.

In the absence of Maya, her littermate Grizzer may be vulnerable to the younger animals and has been moved to a separate enclosure where he will retire from the exhibit.

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