Handling wolves and HC wolfdogs

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Nìmwey
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Handling wolves and HC wolfdogs

Postby Nìmwey » Fri Sep 30, 2016 6:08 am

As a lot of you probably heard back then, in June 2012, a keeper was killed by a pack of bottle-raised wolves at Kolmården Zoo. It is being brought up again now because court proceedings are finally going on about staff endangerment, or I don't know what you would call it in English.

There are a lot of incidents being brought up prior to this, with the wolves (all neutered, bottle-raised males, I think six or eight of them) being aggressive to both keepers and visitors on occasion.

To give you the details: Kolmården is the biggest zoo in Scandinavia, and one of the things they were famous for was their wolf interaction program, when visitors could go in to the wolves. It sure helped to change a lot of people's mind about the wolves (they are still being hunted like witches in Sweden and the rest of Scandinava), but it does not seem it was handled very professionally.

I remember just a couple of months before the fatal incident, when a fifteen year old girl was bitten in her thigh by one of the wolves - the thing is she was afraid of DOGS, so for some stupid reason she or her family/friends got the idea she should practice on wolves? They picked up on her fear and bit her.

There WERE safety regulations. You were not allowed to have any food in your hands or pockets, and if a wolf grabbed say a scarf or something else you had hanging, you simply had to let it go, you'd never get it back. So keepers sure had no "control" if you will, of the wolves. What's mind-boggling to me is how they let a teenage girl with dog phobia go in there.

As for the fatal incident itself, not much was revealed. This was a 30 year old woman who was going in, alone and unarmed (standard procedure), to feed the pack of wolves she had known since puppyhood. The only safety protocol was a com radio to check in with every twenty minutes. Plenty of time for things to happen. It was when she did not check in that her lifeless body was discovered in the pen. The media was like I said, very quiet about the details, and I don't know how bad her injuries were.

It's reported she was feeling weak prior to the incident - difficult to keep her balance, dizziness, and so on, and that a weakness like this might trigger a predatory response in the wolves. I've long thought that simply stumbling over, near a pack of wolves in a feeding frenzy, would be a death sentence. And now we know she was not feeling well.

Some other incidents, written right now during the court proceedings and quickly translated by me:

The 7th of May 2011 one of the wolf guides was victim to an attack while visiting the wolves in the pen. In the raport it's described how all wolves were circling the keeper who had ended up on the ground. Farkas, the leader wolf shows a clear aggressive behavior towards the keeper.
"It's starting to really get out of hand", she writes. "Now they are so aggressive it's starting to get really unpleasant."
The keeper also describes how she, despite being alone, lacked communication devices.

And this one is just idiotic behavior from a visitor, who should not have been allowed in there in the first place (and I think it is the previously mentioned teenager):
The year afterwards, 2012, about two months before the fatal attack, the next incident is reported. A visitor becomes afraid of the wolves and screams and waves her arms. Her behavior triggers the wolves who bites her leg. One of the bites is so serious that the visitor has to be taken to hospital.

The keeper who was killed by wolves wrote herself a report on the 5th of May 2012. In the report she describes how one of the wolves bites a visitor in the arm.

They describe minor incidents, like one (said to be unreported) where a keeper was scratched in the face so she got "stripes in the face" (same has happened to be by my dog).
One keeper describes how one of the wolves, Volk, has changed his behavior and how he starts going after her clothes. "We were both a bit surprised", the keeper writes.

Well this one seems to me like obvious idiocy...
One reason for the keepers being alone in the pen is that it's been part of their work tast to feed the wolves who have a harder time claiming their place in the pack. They have then hidden meat in bags under their jackets to make sure the more dominant wolves don't take the meat from the subdominant. The wolves have on several occasions pulled in the keeper's clothing.

Banning visitors from having any food in their pockets was a good rule. So why on Earth did the keepers do something so stupid?
Prosecutor Linda Schön reads up a long row of different incidents. She's trying to paint the picture that it's been messy with the wolves in the pen. They have often lunged for keepers and visitors and been ripping in clothes. The guides write of how they feel discomfort with some of the wolves.

It is also very clear that the keepers were often alone with the wolves.

Of course the vast majority of interactions (30+ years) were perfectly safe and nothing happened, but the way they treated the wolves seemed reckless and like this was a tragedy waiting to happen.

But I want to hear from people who actually have experience with wolves and/or HC wolfdogs - what do you think about this?

There are plenty of videos of interactions on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_ ... %C3%A5rden
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Re: Handling wolves and HC wolfdogs

Postby pat » Fri Sep 30, 2016 8:40 am

I don't understand why this zoo would let caretakers and visitors in with a pack of wolves.
if a caretaker needs to go in, they should have a some type of protection and backup people there.
but, there has to be a way to care and feed the wolves safely.. most zoos have separate enclosures, and lure bears, tigers etc in the second enclosure while clean up and feeding is done. also, there are ways to feed them without going in the enclosure. but, to let visitors in, is crazy
I personally don't know much about wolves, however, it is a given that when they are packs like that
stands a very good chance of attacks. some animals, especially in a pack can change in seconds.

then we have private owners, where animals are continually being banned, yes, there are some private owners that are careless,
we never hear of the responsible owners :roll:

thank you for that article
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Re: Handling wolves and HC wolfdogs

Postby sarajeku » Wed Oct 05, 2016 1:29 pm

Does it mention what time of year/which month this took place? In pure wolves and high contents, around mating season, males (mostly, but I have heard of a few females as well) can become quite aggressive and territorial. It's called "Winter Wolf Syndrome" or seasonal aggression and there is a topic on this forum about it. viewtopic.php?t=10436

Here is some basic information about it Winter wolf syndrome
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Re: Handling wolves and HC wolfdogs

Postby Ash » Thu Oct 06, 2016 7:59 pm

I was wondering about Winter Wolf Syndrome too. Generally wolves are really good-natured if raised and socialized. The time of the year can greatly impact their behavior. I also wonder about the bites themselves. The word "bite" could be anything from a small nip that bleeds to something that requires stitches. The media would make a nip out to be a bite, so may not have been anything too serious in those cases.

Sad the keeper died. I almost wonder if something happened to her that may have caused her to faint since it said she was feeling dizzy.

There's only been one case here in the US when an owner died from their "wolves" attacking them. I put "wolves" in quotations since they were actually very low-content wolfdogs. So basically she was killed by a group of dogs. But that's the only one I know of.

I think death by wolves is a very rare event, even in captivity. And it sounds like the zoo in Scandinavia made some poor calls that resulted in injuries/death that could have been avoided.
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Re: Handling wolves and HC wolfdogs

Postby sarajeku » Thu Oct 06, 2016 8:23 pm

Yeah the one in the US was not wolfdogs. The media jumped all over the "wolf hybrid" thing because someone died from dogs with pointy ears. But 80%-ish of claimed wolfdogs, aren't wolfdogs at all, but are just husky mutts or malamute mutts. The majority of people with real wolfdogs started out with one that they THOUGHT was a wolfdog but turned out to be a mutt.

Something to think about is what the media/public would do or say if they get nipped or scratched by any other exotic animal. They make the smallest thing out to sound like a vicious mauling. (e.g. a fox scratching someone while begging for attention = a vicious bite)
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Re: Handling wolves and HC wolfdogs

Postby Nìmwey » Thu Oct 20, 2016 8:16 pm

It was in June, and they were all neutered males, so nothing seasonal involved.
I had forgotten about this thread, will check back on what happened in court tomorrow (it's well past midnight now and I have no business staying up).
My main interest is in parrots, dogs, toothed whales and snakes.
Future animals I want to acquire when we have land are camels, alpacas, wolves, coyotes or jackals, bobcat/lynx, striped hyena or aardwolf.
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Re: Handling wolves and HC wolfdogs

Postby Ash » Mon Oct 24, 2016 1:05 am

Even if neutered they may still go through changes during the season. They still get all the hormones, just can't have babies.
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Re: Handling wolves and HC wolfdogs

Postby sarajeku » Fri Oct 28, 2016 3:01 pm

Ash wrote:Even if neutered they may still go through changes during the season. They still get all the hormones, just can't have babies.

Yup. It can affect females too, but it isn't as common in them. Still happens though. I have heard it is pretty bad in winddancer lines, males and females both (here in the states), but responsible HC owners are prepared for it.
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Re: Handling wolves and HC wolfdogs

Postby Nìmwey » Thu Nov 03, 2016 8:00 am

Well, neutering isn't sterilization. It removes testes/ovaries and thus where the sex hormones come from. In any case, this was in June, far past wolf breeding season.
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Future animals I want to acquire when we have land are camels, alpacas, wolves, coyotes or jackals, bobcat/lynx, striped hyena or aardwolf.
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Re: Handling wolves and HC wolfdogs

Postby TamanduaGirl » Thu Nov 03, 2016 1:22 pm

Fat cells help produce estrogen. I'm not sure where male hormones come from, besides the testes, but they do still get testosterone from other places too. Even females have some testosterone and they don't have testes. Since Beaker was neutered he still humps his wolf and he still gets an erection and he still seems to really really enjoy it, not just dominance humping. Removing the primary source makes the hormones a lot less but really doesn't remove them entirely.
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Re: Handling wolves and HC wolfdogs

Postby sarajeku » Wed Dec 07, 2016 2:21 pm

Since I hadn't actually looked this up myself, I decided to. This is what I found.
Co-worker suspected in zoo's fatal wolf attack


Police have now announced that another worker at the zoo is suspected of causing another's death due to a breach of workplace safety laws.
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Re: Handling wolves and HC wolfdogs

Postby caninesrock » Fri Apr 07, 2017 5:24 pm

[
One reason for the keepers being alone in the pen is that it's been part of their work tast to feed the wolves who have a harder time claiming their place in the pack. They have then hidden meat in bags under their jackets to make sure the more dominant wolves don't take the meat from the subdominant. The wolves have on several occasions pulled in the keeper's clothing.

That is the most idiotic thing I've ever heard of someone doing. No wonder these wolves have attacked people. They were mostly likely looking for hidden food in their clothes and got violent when they couldn't find any.
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