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Correlation Between Enclosure Size And WWS?

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EmilyGrace
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Correlation Between Enclosure Size And WWS?

Postby EmilyGrace » Sun Oct 26, 2014 5:07 pm

Recently, I paid a visits to the Sloth Center in Rainier Oregon and had an incredible experience with the wolves there (will post pictures later! :D)

There wasn't much opportunity for asking questions during the encounter, the wolves in the ambassador pack thoroughly demanded our attention. But as we were walking back to the cars, I asked the coordinator what her experiences with Winter Wolf Syndrome had been. And she didn't know what it was!

I was quite surprised, I thought this was an almost ubiquitous phenomenon among unaltered wolves and mid-high content wolf-dogs! So I explained that it is seasonal breeding aggression, and poses quite a serious problem for keepers, sometimes for a duration of several months. She runs a conservation breeding program for arctic wolves there as well, but she said she’d never encountered any breeding season aggression, and could even go in the den to see the pups without any trouble (by that time, the breeding drive would've passed anyway, so I'm not sure she understood exactly what I meant.)

Then she asked another keeper if she’d experienced any breeding season aggression at any of the other wolf facilities she’d worked at. The other keeper said yes, but the enclosure sizes were all smaller than a wolf territory would be in the wild. The coordinator suggested I do further research on this and get back to her, and I thought I'd start here!

It seems to me that seasonal aggression should still occur in unaltered wolves and mid-high contents no matter what the circumstances. But someone with her amount of experience probably would've encountered it if that’s the case... But if it is true that WWS can be avoided that's fabulous and everyone should know about it!

“Wolf territories usually vary in size from 200 to 500 square miles, but may range from as little as 18 square miles to as much as 1,000 square miles. One wolf per every 10 square miles is considered ideal for wolf health.
Territory size is typically based on the density of prey but is also influenced by pack size, presence of neighboring packs, and human land use. Wolves will aggressively defend their territories from other packs.
Wolves spend about 35% of their time traveling. They often travel 20 to 30 miles per day, but may cover over 100 miles in a day when prey is scarce.”
from: http://westernwildlife.org/gray-wolf-ou ... ehavior-4/

Territory size in the wild is highly based on resource availability, and captive wolves have all their resources provided for them so logically speaking wild territories should not be an appropriate measure for enclosure size. Is there a magic captivity wolf:enclosure size ratio by which WWS can be prevented? Or is another factor at play here (amount of direct contact with keepers, enrichment, pack dynamic)?

I need to find out which facilities and owners experience WWS and which don't, and the size and outfit of their enclosures, as well as any other information that could contribute to our understanding of WWS.

Please share your experiences and opinions. I can hardly wait, this is such an exciting topic. :)
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Ash
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Re: Correlation Between Enclosure Size And WWS?

Postby Ash » Sun Oct 26, 2014 9:35 pm

Wolf Park in Indiana talks about winter-wolf-syndrome quite a bit. They actually stop having wolf encounters during that time period as an extra safety precaution. They have a very huge enclosure though--like takes up a HUGE portion of the park.

I think some people get lucky and don't ever have to experience it.
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Re: Correlation Between Enclosure Size And WWS?

Postby Cindy23323 » Mon Oct 27, 2014 5:07 pm

Ash is correct. Not all animals will end up having WWS. My two highs have never had it yet (knock on wood). But I still inform potential owners about it, as it is a very common thing that could end up happening.
EmilyGrace
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Re: Correlation Between Enclosure Size And WWS?

Postby EmilyGrace » Mon Oct 27, 2014 7:29 pm

What I am wondering is WHY some individuals get it and others don't. I get that it's individual variation, but isn't that ultimately derived from genetics, body chemistry, environment? Factors that we can control for to some degree?

And if there are other instances of institutions with lots of wolves that have never experienced it (as the coordinator and the keeper inferred that there were) maybe they have unknowingly isolated whatever that factor is.

I can't seem to find any studies relating to this.
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Ash
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Re: Correlation Between Enclosure Size And WWS?

Postby Ash » Thu Oct 30, 2014 8:36 pm

Hm. I'd like to hear which other institutions haven't had the problem, if they have kept a lot of wolves.

Honestly, I'm surprised someone who keeps a good number of them wouldn't have even heard of WWS... That's one of the first things you stumble across and hear about in your research. Maybe they have experienced it, but do not know it. Could have been more mild WWS, for example. Also depends on how often they're in with their wolves during that time. When my fox was aggressive, I could usually spend a good safe 10 minutes with him before anything happened.

Like you said, I'm sure there are factors involved, but my guess is enclosure size is not one of them. Like I mentioned, Wolf Park has a HUGE enclosure for their pack. They are located in Indiana--I don't know how comparable the winters are though. I would like to see a study to see if it's something that can be predicted. But there are so many factors and so many different ways people keep their wolves, that I don't know if it could be done easily. Sounds like a difficult study.
3 red fox, 4 pectinata iguanas, nile monitor, BW tegu, sailfin dragon, leachie gecko, 6 snakes, 2 salamanders, 3 tarantulas

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