Wednesday, October 23, 1996
Pounds and pounds of meat
When wolves first come to Yellowstone from Canada, we keep them in acclimation pens. This helps them adjust (or acclimate) to their new home so they won't try to return to Canada. Because wolves can't feed themselves while they live in these pens, we must take the food to them. Wolves eat a lot of food 15 pounds per wolf per day!
One of the jobs of a volunteer is to carry this food to the pens. When the weather is nice, we do this by putting the meat in backpacks so we can carry it up to the wolves. In the winter, we use a team of two mules that pull a sled with the meat onboard. Both the mules and man who heads up the mule team work very hard to get the meat to the penned wolves. Physically, this is a very demanding job, but it is rewarding to be part of a team that has the responsibility of keeping the wolves healthy.
So, where do we get all of this food that we feed the
wolves? First of all, a wolf's diet consists completely
of meat. In the wild, wolves kill and eat animals such
as elk, deer, and moose. These animals are called ungulates.
In order to keep the wolves' diet healthy and consistent,
we pick up road-killed animals like elk and deer. That
meat feeds the wolves while they are in pens. When
there are no road-killed animals to feed the wolves,
we feed them processed meat just like the food they
feed meat-eating animals at the zoo.