Public golf courses rack up losses again
Duluth's two public golf courses expect to finish the year $100,000 in the hole, bringing their total debt to the city up to $2.8 million.
For years, the sport has lost popularity in Duluth, whose Lester Park and Enger Park golf courses overlook Lake Superior. In 2019, the city asked for proposals to develop a portion of each course to help fund improvements.
A year later, city officials said they have not received any feasible offers. Duluth parks staff recommended to the City Council last month that they minimally maintain the Lester Park course in 2021 to save money.
In April, Duluth closed Lester Park Golf Course as the city reckoned with early financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost 40,000 rounds of golf were played at the Enger Park course in 2020.
City staff expect to have a more in-depth conversation with the council by March about the future of the Lester Park course, including the possibility of a permanent closure.
Starting this year, the golf courses' losses will be offset by Duluth's parks fund instead of the city's general fund.
Wolf center bids farewell to Boltz
Boltz, one of five wolves at the International Wolf Center in Ely, was euthanized last month because of a debilitating neurological issue affecting his hind legs.
The 8-year-old, who arrived at the center in July 2012, was always a low-ranking wolf — a follower rather than an alpha.
"He didn't trust a lot of things," said Lori Schmidt, the center's wolf curator.
Boltz had a phobia about summertime insects, particularly wasps, hornets and bees after he was stung in the mouth. After that, when he heard buzzing overhead, he dropped his head and retreated to the woods in the enclosure.
He also wasn't a big fan of crowds, Schmidt said. Boltz often gave visitors the classic wolf glance that said: "I see you coming as a human and I don't trust you," Schmidt said.
When he got excited and seemed to be more trusting, he wiggled his eyebrows, she said.
In August, caretakers noticed Boltz's hind legs seemed wobbly. Over time, the situation worsened. Antibiotics, steroids and other treatments didn't help and various tests including bloodwork, an MRI and spinal tap offered no insight into the problem.
"He was falling and struggling to stand up," Schmidt said. "He was panicking."
He was euthanized Nov. 12. "It was the humane thing to do," she said.
His body was taken to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostics Lab for a necropsy.
Mary Lynn Smith