For Hub City Times
MARSHFIELD — On Nov. 5, 2015, Wildwood Zoo welcomed three new timber wolves. The wolves are 2 ½-year-old siblings, two brothers and a sister.
They came to Wildwood Zoo from the Wild World of Animals in Pennsylvania. The Wild World of Animals is a well-known and respected animal education and training company. Through conversations with officials there, Wildwood staff determined that the wolves would be a great fit in Marshfield.
The wolf exhibit has been empty since the passing of Nelson earlier this year. During that time, with the support of the Zoological Society, staff added a swimming pool, removed hazard trees, updated the wolf den, and completed minor exhibit maintenance in preparation for new animals. The new wolves will be named through a promotion organized by the Zoological Society.
Wisconsin’s wolf population
Historically, wolves lived throughout the state of Wisconsin. It is estimated that 3,000-5,000 wolves lived in the state prior to settlement in the 1830s. However, by the 1950s wolves had been almost completely extirpated.
In 1957 wolves were protected by the state, and in 1974 they received federal protection. Since then they have made a steady comeback. In 2012 it was estimated that there were a little over 800 wolves in the state. Following a brief delisting from the Endangered Species List, wolves were relisted in December of 2014.
There is still a great deal of controversy over wolves and their management. Many people can appreciate wolves’ place on the landscape and respect them as a vital part of the ecosystem. Others view wolves as a nuisance, citing danger to livestock, other game animals, or people.
It is important to note that in the last 500 years, there have only been a few documented wolf attacks in North America. Wolf depredation accounts for about 1 percent of livestock loss, less than from coyotes or wild dogs. Wolves in Wisconsin kill about 15,000 deer per year. During the nine-day 2014 Wisconsin Gun Deer Season alone, hunters registered 191,550 deer.
If you would like to come visit the new wolves, their exhibit can be found on the south end of the core zoo area. It is also visible from the zoo’s Large Animal Drive.
To accommodate increased visitors’ interested in seeing the new Kodiak bear cubs and timber wolves, the zoo has temporarily extended its hours. Wildwood Zoo is open daily from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. through Nov. 15. Beginning Monday, Nov. 16, the zoo will resume its normal winter hours of 7:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Monday–Friday and 7:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.