What are the wolves up to?

Further photos and updates are available on the "UKWCT Friends" Facebook group.
(Please note: the group is not an official UKWCT site; opinions and views posted there may differ from those of the UKWCT.)

Previous updates are available: November 2019, October, September, August, July, May/June, March/April , January/February, November/December 2018 and September/October 2018


22nd December 2019

Sunday was, by and large, a dry and mild day - ideal weather for being out with the wolves.

After arriving, we shared a few festive treats and then set out with the Beenhams. The day may have been dry, but the muddy ground told the tale of copious rainfall over the preceeding weeks. The wolves, already a bit muddy, became even moreso as the walk progressed. There were times when even the wolves made squelching noises on the saturated grass, something which is most unusual as the wolves are usually pretty silent!

The rainfall had filled the pond that one of our volunteers (Matt) dug out a few years ago. The wolves were of course quite interested in this, albeit they didn't fancy going in the deep part. Just as well, as the handlers would have had to follow! As usual there were some smelly things for the wolves to roll in, although all that moisture took the edge off the pong. The stream at the bottom of the field by the enclosures was as high as I've ever seen it and the wolves were quite careful as they paddled at the edge. Tala, for whatever reason, decided that the water in the pond was better than that of the stream; she must have been thirsty as she took a good long drink.

After popping the wolves back in their enclosure, we had a short break for lunch. It was then Mai's time to come out and she strode out powerfully around the back field. We didn't get down to the stream, though, as a veil of drizzle started to fall. That was her cue to turn tail and head back up the hill... it was a good workout keeping up with her and a reminder that despite her advanced years, she's still a powerful animal. The drizzle stopped, we put Mai back, then it was time for some fun.

In the old days, we used to run "Christmas Cracker" events, whereby meaty treats were packaged inside a "cracker" - usually made from old kitchen roll tubes. We no longer run these events, but we decided to give the wolves some "crackers" anyway. These took the form of some hotdog sausages poked through holes in the cardboard tubes, with an egg in the middle held in place by the sausages. The puzzle for the wolves would be how to get the egg out.

As it turns out, it wasn't much of a puzzle for them. While the Arctics carefully deconstructed the treats, the Beenhams just attacked the tubes with gusto, shredding them and gobbling up the goodies within. Mai was uncertain about the whole thing to start with, but ended up scoffing the hotdogs from both hers and Motomo's. None of this took very long and it proved that although the wolves like eggs, they like hotdogs more!
The regular feeding took place afterwards and this time there were no kites to steal Motomo's food.

To wrap up our time with the wolves, we went in with the Beenhams. They were all keen to say "hello" and we spent quite a while making a fuss of them. Nuka waded into the pond and it turns out the reeds are very good at hiding a wolf: you wouldn't have known he was there, until a head appeared followed by the rest of him. As is often the case he came over to me and wanted a belly rub. Not to be outdone, Tundra than came trotting over, also wanting a fuss. Stroking two wolves at once is a bit difficult, but luckily there was help at hand from the other handlers!

We then said our goodbyes to the wolves and headed back to the education room, where Tsa (the owner of the Trust) had thoughtfully left some of her mulled wine for us to take away. It's potent stuff and the gesture was much appreciated by us all. We wished each other a Merry Christmas and headed our separate ways, having enjoyed another great day at the Trust.

Thank you for your continued support of the Trust; we look forward to bringing you further updates in the new year. In the meantime, on behalf of the wolves and everyone at the Trust, Merry Christmas!
Motomo, Torak and Mosi, Mai

15th December 2019

We all arrived today in a festive mood as it was our Xmas lunch – a thank you from Tsa Palmer for our work with her wolves during the year.
We had a delayed start as neither the Beenhams or the Arctics behaved themselves when we went to get them onto the hard standing. Eventually the Beenhams rallied and came out first.
The Arctics did come out after for a shortened walk as time was now getting on. While the Arctics were out, the rest of us prepared the wolves' and tortoises' food. We had enough volunteers to all take a bucket and feed the wolves before it was our turn!

The Xmas lunch was a lovely opportunity to catch up with our previous office staff, who managed all of the membership walks, events and merchandise when we were open to the public.
The Secret Santa sack was passed round and we had a good time playing silly games and enjoying the lunch.
Update and photo by Eve
Christmas lunch


7th December 2019

Thankfully it was dry and mild when we arrived at the Trust.
We were a bit low on numbers due to sickness. We took the Beenhams out for a long walk first.

Nuka had a very interesting walk tracking the postman outside the hedge delivering to the village and following a man with a wheelbarrow walking off to the allotments.
He also spied a cat who ran off to the village and once out of sight, he lost interest! A hare ran out from the hedge in front of him but he was too interested in the postman and only gave it a cursory glance.
His sisters didn't show much interest in any of these activities.
Nuka was the only wolf to find not one but two very fresh piles of something extremely pungent and was in ecstasy rolling around in it and covering his lead and himself... We had to wash the chain after the walk!

We spent sometime waiting for Mai to stop chasing around with Motomo before coming out for a walk. She did a lot of rolling around where the tractor had been sitting, getting really engrossed. She was pulling up clumps of grass with her teeth trying to get to more diesel, making groans of joy!
She also found the now flattened smelly mound Nuka had enjoyed earlier and spent ages rolling around in that as well.
This was quite a long walk for Mai today and we all enjoyed watching her strut around with her very fluffy tail in the air. Once back in her enclosure she raced up and down showing off to the Arctics while Motomo tried rubbing himself all over her wonderful new aromas she'd come home with!

All the wolves not being walked were very vocal today while we were off site. It's fabulous to hear their songs across the fields.
We made a fuss of all the wolves and noted they all ate their food.

Our trip into the Beenhams' enclosure was amusing as Nuka went into his hilarious play mode, zooming around the enclosure. Even Tundra got a bit playful later on.
After we had another fuss with the Arctics through the fence. Massak also joined in with some bouncy playful behaviour which is great fun to watch, with his long front legs all splayed out as he play bows!
We all reluctantly left them to settle down for the night. Yet again, a great day with all the wolves.
Update by Eve, photos by Neil
Mai and the Beenhams


1st December 2019

We all arrived and due to it only being 2 degrees, huddled in the Obs room to warm up and fill up with hot drinks before setting off to firstly take the Arctics, Massak, Pukak and Sikko out for their enrichment walk.
The Senior Handlers walked down first to put the Beenhams into their holding enclosure so they will be ready for us to take them out later.

Massak was asserting himself on the hard standing while the wolves were being collared up, due to the breeding season starting and hormone levels rising.
Their last walk will most probably be in 2 weeks' time to allow them to be left alone during the high hormonal season as we don't want their behaviour to escalate around us. We will do more enclosure enrichment with them while we are not walking them over the next couple of months.
Depending on how the Beenhams' behaviour changes over the next month or so, we may stop their walks during February, the height of the breeding season. Even though both packs are unable to breed, their hormones do still rise during these months!
Once out of their enclosure all 3 Arctics were calm, with Massak having the odd grumble at Pukak who didn't appear to be doing anything naughty. Sikko, for once, wisely decided to keep her distance! We had a nice calm walk with all 3 wolves following a lot of scents and trails along the way. There was some rolling around in smelly stuff and then we headed back. As the days are short and we have a lot to do, we didn't go into the back field today. All 3 wolves clearly wanted to and slowed down, stubbornly standing still. They gave up and trotted back with us and were quite happy once back in their enclosure.

With fingers now thawed out after a nice long walk, we headed back inside to get some drinks before taking the Beenhams out.
Nuka, Tundra and Tala came flying onto the hard standing and off we went at breakneck speed. This is great if you are on the front lead as you get some help from your wolf while walking uphill! We mixed the walk up a bit, doing it back to front and crossing across fields. They were keen to keep moving, in contrast to the Arctics who stop, sniff and scent mark everything. Tala decided to have a paddy going through the gate into the 'stump' field for a reason known only to herself. Patience is required and finally she came through. Tundra, who I was handling was keen to give her a telling off. Fortunately I was able to steer her off in the other direction therefore Tala avoided the wrath of her sister.
Nuka found something very smelly to roll in as usual and Craig was seen washing his collar after he'd taken it off Nuka once the wolves were safely back in their enclosure. We turned their waterfall on and watched as they nearly always go up there to get a drink from the free flowing water.

We then got the tortoises out for their walk briefly as it was still cold, cleaned their bedding and gave them fresh food. I noted one of them was straight onto the strawberries when we put them back inside.
We then had a quick break before the walk with Torak and Mosi. It is difficult to keep up with them and try to take photos! Mosi found a woodcock and I managed to snap her focussed on the rapidly departing flapping bird! It is great to see Mosi so full of life despite her poorly leg, which the medication is keeping in check for her.
Some handlers had stayed behind to prepare food for the wolves, so we started feeding them once the walk was over. They all ate well. Nuka was sucking his food down his throat and half way through his chomping emitted a loud burp!

After clearing everything away and taking out food for their next feed, we went into the Beenhams' enclosure. Tundra and Tala picked out some volunteers' heads and proceeded to rub themselves all over them. Nuka also had a rub on my head and appeared to enjoy depositing some of the smelly substance he'd delighted in on his walk all over my hair. Everyone found that most amusing.
It was all too much for Nuka who got a fit of the 'Zoomies' and raced off over the mound. He didn't reappear, maybe waiting for us or his sisters to chase him. They hung around with us for a little longer and then wandered off to see what Nuka was doing.
We left having had a cold but wonderful day with the wolves. I went home to wash my hair!
Update and photos by Eve
Arctics, Mai, food
Mosi and Torak