Friday, September 30, 2016

Beauty. Not Beast.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Win For Red Wolves

SEPTEMBER 29, 2016 - U.S. Federal court blocks U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from authorizing private landowners to capture and kill last remaining wild red wolves!

Judge Terrence Boyle issued a preliminary injunction that forces federal officials to meet high legal standards before they can remove wolves from private property.

Boyle also said that conservation groups are likely to succeed at trial in showing that the USFWS has violated the Endangered Species Act.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Bath Time For Mexican Wolf Pup

This is what family looks like.

For wolves, bath-time isn't only fun, it helps strengthen family bonds. When Mexican gray wolf F1226 (Belle) licks and nibbles her 4-month-old daughter, not only is Mom keeping her kiddo's fur clean and free of debris, her grooming efforts are gestures of intimacy that reaffirm the unique emotional bonds that shape the foundation of the family. Because when it comes to wolves, it's all about family.

Please take action to keep critically endangered Mexican gray wolves protected.
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Monday, September 26, 2016

Grief Is Not Uniquely Human. Wolves Mourn Too.

The practice of mourning a loved one is at the heart of the social structures of many species, most notably humans. We offer condolences on the passing of virtually any individual, no matter how small our connection to them may be, because we understand that their absence is felt deeply and profoundly by others. Comfort can be found in a reassuring hug, a gently worded note, or simply commiserating with others about the devastating loss. But what of those individuals that are isolated and alone, left to mourn the passing of a mate with no company but their own?

The Wolf Conservation Center experienced a devastating loss on September 24th when our very own F1397 (Hazel) passed away, leaving behind a contingent of human admirers and her devoted mate. We grieved for the red wolf with a fierce spirit and an utter devotion to her family, a red wolf that should have witnessed the breathtaking beauty of a wild landscape and enjoyed the freedom to run as far as her lithe body would allow. We grieved so deeply, in fact, that we seemed to forget that our pain at her passing was surely magnified ten-fold by her faithful mate, M1566. Armed with a spirit as fierce and as wild as F1397, M1566 served as the perfect companion to the feisty female. The pair spent two blissful years “protecting” their enclosure from staff photographers and guests eager for the chance to see an elusive canid known as “America’s wolf.” But then tragedy struck, and M1566 was no longer part of a dominating duo bent on keeping their perimeter human-free; our scrappy male was suddenly and abruptly alone.

Wolves are social animals, much like humans, and monumental occasions are shared with the entire pack. But what of the wolves that live alone, secluded in their own peaceful territory? How would they mourn the death of a loved one; would they even feel any loss at all? Critics and naysayers would deny the ability of animals to feel any emotion, let alone ones as complicated as love and loss, but F1397’s passing was felt very strongly by her mate.

Those who are privileged to hear a red wolf’s call know it as a screeching, yapping howl, nothing like the stereotypical howls heard in movies. But on the night of F1397’s passing we heard an eerie, sorrowful howl – the sound of a mate searching for his confidant, hoping for a response in the silent night. Alas, no answering howl pierced the sky but M1566 was relentless in his quest for communication. Surely F1397 would reply but if not her, maybe another wolf was experiencing the same sense of loss and abandonment? These heartbreakingly one-sided howls continued for several minutes and then slowly tapered off, as though M1566 finally realized that for the first time in two years he was utterly alone.

So as we mourn the loss of F1397 and share stories and pictures and listen to videos of her unique howl, let us also remember the wolf who is experiencing far greater pain than us with no hope of comfort in sight.

~ Regan Downey, Wolf Conservation Center Youth Education Coordinator

WCC Mourns Endangered Red Wolf F1397

Dear Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I share tragic news about a beloved matriarch. Red wolf F1397, affectionately nicknamed “Witchhazel” for her chutzpah, passed away Saturday. She fell victim to bloat or Gastric Dilatation Volvulus - a particularly scary affliction because of how fast the condition becomes lethal. She was eleven years old.

Although F1397 was slight of stature, her presence proved mighty from the moment we met her.

F1397 joined the Wolf Conservation Center family in 2009 when she was introduced to her first love, red wolf M1483. The following spring the pair earned the badge parenthood with the birth of their two sons, M1803 and M1804 (a.k.a. Moose and Thicket). Motherhood amplified F1397’s industrious spirit. Never idle, the commanding mother effortlessly managed the males in the family whilst engineering a series of additions to their den site, enhancements both marvelous and complex to provide her family with a place of refuge from the outside world. Sadly, tragedy struck despite these efforts. M1483 died unexpectedly in 2012 leaving F1397 to raise her young children singlehandedly.

Starting in 2013, a new chapter opened for F1397 and her boys. M1804 was released to the wild. A father himself now, he resides on an island in the Gulf of Mexico with his mate and pups of the year. M1803 welcomed pups of his own with red wolf F1563 (a.k.a. Salty). And in 2014, F1397 found love again in the last companion she would ever know, red wolf M1566 (a.k.a. Smokey).

Her great gift in life was calling our attention to the things that really matter for wolves – family, love, and loyalty. F1397 was ultimate “alpha” - leading both her brood and those who she unknowingly inspired with spirit and spunk. She blazed into our homes and hearts via webcam - opening the door to understanding wolf family values as well as the importance and plight of her endangered kin.

We can be better and do better because she lived. Her scrappy and assiduous spirit will empower us to continue the fight to safeguard the wild legacy she leaves behind.

Our hearts go out to her family, her love M1566, and the many who she had unknowingly touched.

RIP, Witch Hazel. We miss you already.

Maggie Howell, WCC Executive Director

Friday, September 23, 2016

Pool Day For Ambassador Wolf Atka

How did Ambassador wolf Atka celebrate the first day of Autumn? By taking a dip in the pool of course!

The Wolf Conservation Center is constantly trying to make sure that our ambassador wolves have interesting experiences. Their enclosures are spacious and have natural varied terrain, but we also try to provide them with enrichment - activities that will challenge and mentally stimulate them. Enrichment can include hiding food in an empty enclosure and then letting the wolves into the enclosure to track down the food (something we often do when we host birthday parties) or introducing foreign objects with interesting textures and/or smells (such as boxes filled with horsehair and daubed with perfume) into their enclosure.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of letting Atka explore a new environment so he can experience all sorts of different sights and smells! Atka has visited the ocean, rivers, and lakes before - but he has never been to a pool in his 14 years! He wasn't sure at first... but ended up loving it!

Enormous thanks to the Lewisboro Parks and Recreation Department for inviting Atka to its pool! Tomorrow the Town is giving local dogs the unique opportunity to take a dip before it is drained for the season. The "Drool in the Pool" event runs 12pm - 2pm. We hope the doggies have as much fun as Atka did!

Decision in Wyoming Poised to Impact Wolves Beyond the State

A court in Washington, D.C., is poised to decide today whether Wyoming will be allowed to manage wolves within the state, or whether wolves will remain protected under federal law.



Just over four years ago in 2012, the USFWS officially stripped federal protections from Wyoming's wolves and handed management over to the state, a controversial decision, and contradiction of the agency's stance in the past. Although USFWS had previously criticized Wyoming's state wolf plan on the grounds that unregulated shooting in most of the state would reduce the state’s wolf population below federally required levels, the agency took a significantly altered position, announcing that these wolves no longer warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The following day, management was handed over to the state and Wyoming's inaugural wolf hunt commenced.

A few weeks later, a coalition of conservation groups represented by Earthjustice officially filed suit in federal district court in the District of Columbia asking "the court to declare this rule illegal, and put wolves back on the endangered species list until Wyoming adopts a responsible management plan that ensures the continued survival and recovery of wolves in the region."

Wyoming wolves receive a reprieve in 2014

On September 23, 2014, Judge Amy Berman Jackson invalidated USFWS' s 2012 statewide delisting. The ruling reinstated federal protections and ended management of wolves by Wyoming, a state with a kill-on-sight approach to wolf management. In its 2012 management plan Wyoming promised to maintain more than the required 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside the national parks. The Judge took issue with an addendum in the plan assuring that it would maintain a buffer of wolves above the required number because it did not specify how many wolves or make the buffer binding by law. Because the addendum was legally unenforceable, the Judge found the buffer to be a violation of the ESA.

Broader Implications of Today's Hearing - Nationwide Delisting

If the court decides to overturn Jackson’s decision, wolves far beyond the state border are due to suffer the consequences. A decision to return wolf management to Wyoming paves the way for USFWS to issue their national wolf delisting rule -- meaning all wolves in the lower 48 (except Mexican wolves and red wolves) can lose protection at a time when they have claimed less than 10% of their historic range.

Moreover, Wyoming’s wolf management policies can influence expectations about wildlife management in other states.

"USFWS caved to Wyoming’s insistence on keeping the predator zone," said Wolf Conservation Center's Maggie Howell. "With the service on the cusp of delisting wolves across the United States, any concessions that are allowed in Wyoming by the federal government could set a precedent for other states to bargain with." It's both wrong and dangerous to allow a state with a history of hostile and extreme anti-wolf policies to set an example for other states to follow. This is why U.S. District Judge Jackson's 2014 ruling to reinstate federal protections for Wyoming's wolves was also good news for wolves beyond the state's borders.

Stay tuned for updates.