Michael Allan Mallory and his writing partner, Marilyn, are wonderful writers, avid environmentalists, and great friends. Please give him a big convertible welcome. (And please excuse the poor formatting of his blog. WordPress reallly hates me this morning.)

“Don’t treat Michael like an Omega!” the wolf curator chided, nearly laughing.  The comment was directed toward the woman who’d nearly crashed into my face with a tree branch.

We were in the main wolf enclosure at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, clearing away the winter’s straw and removing debris. I was one of a dozen volunteers that weekend helping out at this respected learning center inside Superior National Forest. It was mid-May and Lori Schmidt, wolf curator, was directing our movements when the volunteer totting the fallen tree branch almost got me. That had prompted her good-natured ribbing.


The omega wolf is the lowest ranking member of the wolf pack, the one the others pick on. The reference came from the evening before, the first day of the volunteer weekend. We were extending the height of the holding area fence when it happened. I adjusted the ladder I’d been working on and the socket wrench on the top step banged down onto my skull. The result: blood. My blood. Dripping freely down my face onto my sweatshirt. Meanwhile scant feet behind me three of the exhibit wolves watched the incident with keen interest. They were on the other side of a chain-link fence. I wished I was on the other side of the planet, embarrassed I’d messed up in front of Lori. I was ushered into the wolf lab for treatment.

I was at the wolf center, in part, to research my next book. Fortunately the injury was minor and when Lori came in to check on “Mr. Head Trauma” we joked about it. The accident served as preamble for her remark the next day when I was almost taken out by a branch wielding volunteer.

“Don’t treat Michael like an Omega!”

Indeed.  The actual omega back then (2007) was Malik (Ma-leek), a beautiful white arctic wolf, the gentlest and most people-interested member of the pack, based upon my observations. Malik was my favorite. His brother, Shadow, was the leader, the dominant wolf. The term alpha, I learned, was out of favor among wolf scientists as there’s too much baggage associated with it.

There was a lot to learn about this iconic animal of the wilderness and working with the wolves was the most enjoyable aspect of my research.  Last spring I returned to volunteer, this time without mishap. No more Mr. Head Trauma! Another change was that the aging Malik had been retired to his own enclosure to prevent him from being injured by the newer, younger wolves in their biological drive to establish new social order. A month afterward his brother Shadow joined him in retirement after serving as pack leader for many years.

Contrary to the bad press undeservedly heaped on them, wolves aren’t bloodthirsty killers. Apex predators, loving parents, and high intelligent, they play a key role in the health of their ecosystems. They’ve been exterminated in nearly every country where they once lived. Minnesota has the distinction of being the only state in the contiguous forty-eight United States that never exterminated its wolf population, so that today nearly three thousand gray wolves thrive in Superior National Forest.

Pro-wolf/anti-wolf sentiments propel the story in KILLER INSTINCT, which sends zoologist sleuth, Lavender “Snake” Jones to the North Woods of Minnesota to help investigate the killing of four wild wolves. Things take a dark turn when one of the suspects turns up murdered and Snake ends up fighting for her life in the dark confines of the forest as the killer trains his gun sights on her.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to

  1. Thanks for inviting me, Lois! That’s Malik’s photo BTW. Beautiful animal.

  2. MIchele says:

    Welcome, Michael. Sounds like an awesome story! I have to get up to the wolf center in Ely. I write werewolves in MN, and most of them are located up in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. MN is the perfect place for wolves, no matter if they’re normal or maybe a little paranormal. 😉

  3. loisgreiman says:

    Hey Michael, please forgive the uploading delay this morning. We’re thrilled you could blog with us. And thanks for caring about the wolves. Malik is fantastic. How many animals do they have at the Wolf Center now?

  4. cindygerard says:

    Hi Michael and welcome to the ‘vert!
    We have a cabin on lake Kabetogama and have been frequent visitors to the Vince Schute Wildlife Sanctuary near Orr which is primarily a habitat and learning center about the Minnesota black bears. We love visiting there and keep talking about also making the trip to Ely on one of our northward treks but just haven’t managed it yet.
    Your post makes me want to visit the Wolf Center even more than before plus makes me feel guilty that I haven’t already been there.
    The book looks great, btw! Another thing on my list!!

  5. Welcome, Michael! KILLER INSTINCT will be a great gift for my daughter, lover of all things canine. She and I sign every defense of wolves petition that comes our way. The latest one was about banning certain poisons that are not only putting wolves and coyotes through agonizing deaths but also pet dogs. Do you know any more about that?

    We used to ranch, and we still have horses out in the Dakotas, so I understand the dread of wolves attacking newborn livestock. But it’s the way of the natural world–or what’s left of it. We either embrace, study, accept ourselves as part of nature, or we’re doomed to surround ourselves with our own creations. And we’re not going to come up with anything as wonderful as Malik’s relatives.

    I checked out your FB page and applied for your friendship. (Handy dandy hint: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=hp#!/profile.php?id=593630094)

  6. Lois, at this time the wolf center has six wolves. There are the four Ambassador pack members which are on display. The two retired wolves, Shadow and Malik, are in their own private enclosure and off exhibit. Shadow, Malik, Maya, and Grizzer are in KILLER INSTINCT under different names. But their personalities and behaviors were used, thanks, in part, to the well kept wolf logs available for viewing.

    New wolf pups are going to be introduced in 2012, always a big deal at the wolf center. The wolves always get excited when new pups are introduced. They’re great parents, uncles and aunts.

    Cindy, black bears are fun animals to watch. The Ely wolf center is mainly closed in the winter. Open Saturdays, I think. They don’t get into high gear again until May. Their website is http://www.wolf.org

  7. Helen Brenna says:

    Hi Michael and welcome! I’ve been to the wolf center, but it was years and years ago. I could sit there and watch the wolves all day. I think research is one of the best parts of this job.

    Hmm. I’m hankering for some Dorothy Molter root beer. LOL

  8. Hi Kathleen. Wolves are key players in the health of their eco-systems. There is a delicate balance between the interests of wolves and humans. It can be done. The answer isn’t extermination. The reintroduction of the wolf in Yellowstone actually improved the diversity of flora and fauna.

    Helen. Me too!

  9. lois greiman says:

    I’ve never seen a wolf in the wild. I know the ranchers out west worry (rightfully so) about the lives of their young stock, but we have to make more space for the wild world.
    It’s a prickly problem.

    • Western ranchers exterminated wolves because they were worried about their livestock. However, the wolves also kept the coyote population under control. Without the wolves coyotes have flourished and have spread to all parts of America, including Florida and Massachusetts, which poses another problem. Things are connected. The solution isn’t us or them, it’s about balance.

  10. I thought I should add with all this serious wolf talk that KILLER INSTINCT, while serious in parts, also has big dollops of humor, some of it dry, some of it goofy because, well, that’s also me. Co-author Marilyn also appreciates a mixture of funny and serious.

  11. lois greiman says:

    We should mention your booksigning at OUAC, Michael. Give us details please.

  12. catslady says:

    I love reading anything having to do with animals and find it fascinating when two people can write a book together! I have heard that wolves will care for another wolf or young as they were their own. They are beautiful creatures. And I always enjoy some humor in my reading!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s