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Bays Mountain set for arrival of four new wolf pups

May 16th, 2014 5:54 pm by Matthew Lane

Bays Mountain set for arrival of four new wolf pups

Unalii, Takoda, Ela and Ahuli will soon be part of the pack at Bays Mountain Park. Contributed photo.

KINGSPORT — After a year of tragic news regarding the wolf population at Bays Mountain Park, some good news has finally arrived.

Bays Mountain Park is getting four new wolf pups.

Rob Cole, operations manager for the park, said the gray wolf pups would be arriving Friday evening from the Minnesota Wildlife Connection — a nature preserve located in Sandstone, Minn.

Two are female, two are male and only two of the pups are from the same pack. The pups are a little over a month old and weigh between 12 and 18 pounds. The arrival will bring the park's wolf population up to seven.

"We're very excited," Cole said. "It's not just the excitement of having new wolves in the park, but the ability to maintain the current pack dynamics, to refresh the pack. We're just excited to have that part of it."

As with the other wolves at the park, the pups have received Native American names. One of the tan males has been named Unalii (Cherokee for "friend"), the other tan male is Ahuli (Cherokee for "drum"), the tan female is named Ela (Cherokee for "Earth") and the black female is called Takoda (Sioux for "friend of many").

The pups will join the habitat with Tanasi (the alpha male) and sisters Netar and Aiyana — all of whom arrived in 2007.

Last year was not a good year for the park's wolf habitat, which lost all three of the 10-year-old wolves. Kiva died in July of natural causes and had been suffering from the effects of myelopathy. In September, Ahote suffered a broken back and paralyzed legs and had to be euthanized. Wahya also had to be euthanized after succumbing to the effects of myelopathy.

And the park came up short in its attempt to replenish its wolf population last year when Bear Country USA of South Dakota reported no new wolf pups were born during breeding season.

Cole said the park recently learned that Bear Country would not have any pups again this year due to an unsuccessful breeding season, so the decision was made to go with MWC.

"Thankfully we had another location that did have wolf pups," Cole said.

As in previous years, volunteers will have to serve as the mothers of the pups for the first two to three months of their lives, spending 24 hours a day, seven days a week with the wolves to better socialize them to humans.

"We spend time with them so they're not afraid of human beings, but also to take a slow, cautious approach of introducing them to the pack," Cole said. "They'll arrive tonight, we'll spend the weekend getting them acclimated and settled in. We'll give them a few days to adjust, and the best time to see them would be Monday going forward."

Including travel, each of the wolf pups cost $2,200, with the money provided by private donations.

Bays Mountain Park's wolf program first began in 1992 with the arrival of three 6-month-old pups. Additional wolves were added in 1995, 2004 and 2007. Four years ago, a number of wolves escaped from the park habitat; one was never found and another eventually died.

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