The Wolf Intelligencer attended the International Wolf Symposium presented by the International Wolf Center last weekend. It was held October 11th through 14th in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Minneapolis Marriot Northwest. The theme of the symposium was “Wolves in a Changing World.” While there, I overheard the attendance quote at 453 participants.
The Symposium kicked off Thursday night with an opening reception in the main lobby for all registrants which included a Tex-Mex buffet dinner and a cash bar. I was personally star struck by the initial sighting of Doug Smith, who is the project leader for the Wolf Project in Yellowstone National Park .
Friday morning started off with a plenary session of lectures by Sabina Novack (Poland), Brent Patterson (Ontario), Dean Cluff (The Northwest Territorites) and Shannon Barber-Mayer . Yadvendradev Jhala (India) was scheduled to give lectures on wolves in India but wasn’t able to attend due to a distemper outbreak in Indian lions that needed to be contained.
The afternoon concurrent sessions were held by individual speakers on topics of wolf ecology, wolf conservation & education, wolf human interaction, wolf distribution around the world and wolf management and policy. Notable sessions that I attended included were “Status Update for the Algonquin Wolf in Ontario” by Connor Thompson, “Challenges in Wolf Management in Croatia” by Josip Kusak and “The Current Situation of Wolf Restoration in Japan” by Narumi Nambu. Other sessions included presentations on the Mexican Wolf Project, conflicts in Scandinavia, depredations in Minnesota, wolf howling, beaver ambush and wolf density disease correlation in Yellowstone.
The Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan was debated by Jeff Heffelfinger and Mike Philips. Heffelfinger supports the controversial current recovery plan which is partly focused on Mexican federal support of the reintroduction of wolves into the Chihuahua Mexico state which borders New Mexico and Texas. Philips made the argument that the plan doesn’t go far enough, doesn’t have a solid enough obligation from the Mexican government and contends that the Chihuahua state is too fragmented with private land to support a viable wolf population. Philips made a convincing argument that more focus should be placed on restoring Mexican Gray wolves into Colorado and the greater Grand Canyon area. The registrants were asked to vote on the two presenters and which they were in agreement with. Mike Philips won the vote.
Then, Dr. Doug Smith and filmmaker Bob Landis gave an exquisite presentation on the wolves in Yellowstone National Park.
Dr. Doug Smith took the podium. with a challenging lecture about the value of nature and his support of wolf hunting.
Saturday morning’s plenary session included a presentation on Isle Royale and Michipicoten Island. A mythologically long haired John Vucetich brought philosophy and history into the question of adding more wolves to Isle Royale. Shannon Barber-Mayer spoke about the logistics of bringing four more wolves into Isle Royale. Brent Patterson spoke about Michipicotan Island.
Saturday’s concurrent sessions included topics on, again wolf ecology, wolf -human interactions, emerging research,wolf conservation, distribution of wolves around the world and wolf management and policy Sessions that I attended were “Wolf Dietary Shifts in a Changing Landscape-Linking Marine and Terrestrial Food Webs in Southeast Alaska” by Gretchen Roffler, “Through the Eyes of a Wolf; Quantifying and Classifying the Complexities of Facial Signaling in Wolves ” by Elana Hobkirk, “Potential of Wolf Recovery in the Grand Canyon Region,” by Emily Renn, “Gray Wolves in Estonia” by Liivi Plumer,
Saturday night’s sold out banquet featured presentations talks by Dave Mech, Mike Philips and Rob Schultz. The “Who Speaks for Wolf” Award was given to Narumi Nambu for her work, passion and dedication to the goal of wolf reintroduction in Japan.
After the Banquet a dance complete with dance floor, dj and disco ball was held in the main banquet hall.
Sunday morning’s penary session was entitled “Red Wolves, Eastern Wolves and Canis Mixes in Eastern North America; Taxonomic Validity and Challenges to Recovery. By Pete Benjamin, Roland Keys, Lisette Waits, Regina Mossotti and Kim Wheeler.
Sunday’s concurrent session topics included wolf ecology, wolf conservation, education and outreach, wolf -human interactions and wildlands ecology. Sessions that I attended were “Opportunity and Peril; How Wolves use a dense forest network ” by Joanna Sulich, “Wolf Tracks at the Door Step; A One Year Cycle of Wolf Behavior Near Houses in Scandinavia” by Barbara Zimmermann, and “Challenging the Wildlife Decision Making Infastructure” by Walter Medwid.
The Keynote talk was presented by Dave Mech, the founder of the International Wolf Center, entitled “Wolf Facts, Fallacies, Fables and Fake News. ”
The closing remarks were made by Debbie Hinchcliffe, Nancy Jo Tubbs, Judy Hunter and Rob Shultz. The International Wolf Center did an exceptional job holding the second International Wolf Symposium. The organization of events and lecture sessions was down to the minute! Every one of the staff was kind, helpful, welcoming and inclusive. The caliber of the scientists and presenters was at the highest of the wolf world’s standards! The third symposium is in four years and I hope I get to go!