Tuesday, May 24, 2016

WCC Among Conservation Groups to File Emergency Petition to Save Plummeting Red Wolf Population

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Stronger Regulations Needed to Stem Illegal Shootings, Expand Where Wild Wolves Can Roam 

WASHINGTON— Conservation groups submitted an emergency petition today calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take immediate steps to bolster flagging protections for the world’s only wild population of red wolves, which has declined by more than 50 percent in just two years, to as few as 45 wolves. The decline occurred after the Service – responding to pressure from those opposed to wolf recovery –  deliberately abandoned wolf-recovery efforts and dramatically curtailed investigations of illegal wolf-shootings.

“Red wolves face the very real possibility of vanishing from the wild if they don’t get the help they need,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Sadly the Fish and Wildlife Service seems more concerned about appeasing a small minority of anti-wildlife extremists in North Carolina than preventing the extinction of these wolves.”

Recently obtained records via the Freedom of Information Act demonstrate that the Service’s red wolf biologists recommended strengthening protections by eliminating loopholes in regulations that have facilitated excessive illegal shootings of red wolves. As recently as 2013, the Service had considered following these recommendations and had even drafted new regulations. But the biologists’ recommendations were ignored, the regulations were never finalized, and the red wolf continues to suffer unsustainable levels of mortality.

Today’s emergency petition requests that the Service revise the current red wolf regulations in order to reduce red wolf shooting deaths, establish additional wild populations of red wolves, and reclassify all reintroduced populations of red wolves as “essential” experimental populations. Currently, wild red wolves are classified as “non-essential,” which severely limits the protections they receive under the Endangered Species Act.

“It is completely arbitrary that this lone wild population of red wolves, which was reintroduced almost 30 years ago, is still classified by the Service as a ‘non-essential’ species,” said Tara Zuardo, wildlife attorney with the Animal Welfare Institute. “The Service has turned its back on this species, and is undermining rather than bolstering red wolf recovery.”

The organizations that filed today’s petition include the Animal Welfare Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Endangered Species Coalition, the South Florida Wildlands Association, WildEarth Guardians, Wildlands Network, and the Wolf Conservation Center. Learn more about the Critically endangered red wolf and the our efforts to recover them.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Can America Learn to Value the Big Bad Wolf?

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Wolves once ranged across most of North America, a vital part of many varied ecosystems. But by the mid-1900s, an unremitting slaughter by humans had brought wolves to the brink of extinction. Red wolves and Mexican gray wolves survived only in captivity, their wildness caged. And the lands where wolves once roamed were diminished, as was our own relationship to the wilderness.

Today, with the support of American public and the safety net of the Endangered Species Act, efforts have begun to right this horrible wrong: to restore these essential creatures to their rightful places in our landscapes, in our hearts, and in our culture.

The frontier for wolves has always been the hearts and minds of humans. Can we learn to value America's most polarizing predator?

There are signs of change.

More.

 ‪#‎EndangeredSpeciesDay‬

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Big Bare Belly Bodes Well for Mexican Wolf Recovery

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Pregnancy can be an exciting and magical time for parents but waiting can be excruciating for well-wishers! No pups yet for Mexican wolves F1226 and M1133, but F1226 recently plucked the hair from her big belly - a custom for expectant mothers when preparing for pups.

The WCC is one of 54 facilities in the U.S. and Mexico participating in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) - a bi-national initiative whose primary purpose is to support the reestablishment of Mexican wolves in the wild through captive breeding, public education, and research. The Mexican wolf SSP management group for the Mexican gray wolf determines which wolves should be bred each year by using software developed for the population management of endangered species. This is necessary because all Mexican wolves descended from just 7 founders rescued from extinction. Genetic diversity is the primary consideration in the selection of Mexican wolf breeding pairs and M1133 and F1226 are a great match on paper with an extremely low inbreeding coefficient.
Sometimes saving a species isn’t very romantic, but it turns out that F1226 and M1133 are a vibrant, loving, and playful pair that make it look like a whole lot of fun! We saw the pair engage in a copulatory tie on March 21st, so given a gestation period of 63 days her due date would be May 23rd. Keep your paws crossed!

Our live webcams will be trained on the pair so consider monitoring the couple from your home, office, or mobile device. If you see something interesting, please let us know!

BACKGROUND

The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) or “lobo” is the most genetically distinct lineage of wolves in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the most endangered mammals in North America. By the mid-1980s, hunting, trapping, and poisoning caused the extinction of lobos in the wild, with only a handful remaining in captivity. In 1998 the wolves were reintroduced into the wild as part of a federal reintroduction program under the Endangered Species Act. Today in the U.S., there is a single wild population comprising only 97 individuals - a decrease from 110 counted at the end of 2014.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Ambassador Wolf Milestone - It's Atka's Birthday!

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Today Ambassador Wolf Atka turns 14 years old! The confident and charismatic ambassador has won the hearts and opened the minds of hundreds of thousands of people in his lifetime. He’s a powerful presence in the fight to preserve wolves’ rightful place in the environment, and for the Wolf Conservation Center staff and volunteers, the best boss we’ll ever have.



 Atka has “touched” so many since his puppy-hood. He's traveled to thousands of schools, libraries, museums, and more, always impressing the masses with his rock-star attitude. Although Atka has been easing into retirement for about a year now, his inner road-warrior get restless so he continues to travel locally once or twice a month. He’s feeling great and isn’t ready to quit!

He stands out as a leader delivering enchanting howls that have an incredible ability to empower guests, volunteers, supporters, and staff with ambition and hope.  Atka is remarkable for the joy he takes in teaching others, the honest pleasure he has in participating with them, and the grace he exhibits in the round of applause. We are so grateful for Atka and the incredible impact he's had on so many. Happy birthday, Atka. We love you so.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Endangered Mexican Wolf Pup Born At The Wolf Conservation Center

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SOUTH SALEM, New York (May 13 ,2016) – Mother’s Day came early for a critically endangered Mexican gray wolf living at the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) in New York’s Westchester County. On the morning of May 4th, Mexican gray wolf F1143 gave birth to a single pup – a robust male nicknamed “Trumpet” for his loud squeals. During the pup’s first health check on May 12th, WCC staff and volunteers confirmed the top-notch pup-rearing skills of the first-time parents, their firstborn is healthy and very cute to boot. But beyond being “adorable," the pocket-size predator represents the Center's active participation in an effort to save a species on the brink of extinction. 

The WCC is one of 54 facilities in the U.S. and Mexico participating in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan - a bi-national initiative whose primary purpose is to support the reestablishment of Mexican wolves in the wild through captive breeding, public education, and research.

Because the entire existing Mexican wolf population descended from just seven founders rescued from extinction, genetic health is the primary consideration governing not only reproductive pairings, but also captive-to-wild release efforts. Although both components are equally critical to Mexican wolf recovery, release events are far less frequent than successful breeding.

“Unfortunately state politics have too often blocked U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) release efforts,” explained WCC Executive Director Maggie Howell, “so wolves essential to the genetic health of the wild population remain in captivity. The Service has a responsibility under federal law to facilitate recovery of the critically endangered species and releases are a central part of that effort.”
In recent positive steps toward recovery, FWS has forged ahead despite political opposition by ushering captive wolves into the wild through its pup-fostering initiative. Pup-fostering is a coordinated event where captive-born pups are introduced into a similar-aged wild litter so the pups can grow up as wild wolves. Mexican wolf F1143’s pup was not eligible for wild-foster because it’s key that the captive litter comprise of a handful of pups and the timing wasn't right. F1143 gave birth a bit later than her wild counterparts.

“Although we hoped pups from our center would receive the ‘call of the wild’,” said WCC curator Rebecca Bose, “we’re elated that there have been so many foster events this year! Pup-fostering is an incredibly effective tool for augmenting the genetic health of the wild population.”

“Maybe next year some Mexican wolf pups from the WCC will get this amazing opportunity,” Howell continued, “in the meantime, we’re counting on FWS to continue with releases beyond pup season because recovery demands releasing more family groups into the wild too.”



The new wolf parents and pup are not on public exhibit, but thirteen live webcams, available on the WCC website, invite an unlimited number of viewers to enter the private lives of these elusive creatures. Two additional wolf couples - one Mexican gray wolf pair and one red wolf pair - were also designated to breed this year. So the WCC staff and supporters will remain glued to various webcams to behold the rare pup and hopefully witness the arrival of more potential pups in the coming weeks.

Background

The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) or “lobo” is the most genetically distinct lineage of wolves in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the most endangered mammals in North America. By the mid-1980s, hunting, trapping, and poisoning caused the extinction of lobos in the wild, with only a handful remaining in captivity. In 1998 the wolves were reintroduced into the wild as part of a federal reintroduction program under the Endangered Species Act. Today in the U.S., there is a single wild population comprising only 97 individuals - a decrease from 110 counted at the end of 2014.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

For Wolves Pups, Play Is About More Than Fun

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Wolves are highly social animals that live in well-organized family units called packs. Cooperative living gives wolf families a number of benefits. It facilitates successful hunting, pup-rearing, defending pack territory, and more.

The parents (sometimes referred to as the “alpha” pair) are the leaders of the pack and they express their status with erect posture and tails carried high. The less dominant family members exhibit their position through submissive behavior. With lowered tails and posture, less dominant wolves acknowledge their role and rank in the family hierarchy. Pawing, tail tucking, and muzzle-licking are among the submissive gestures expressed by less dominant wolves. Although hungry wolf pups hoping to elicit regurgitation in adults employ these behaviors, they’re expressed by adults to function as a sign of affection and reaffirmation of their social status.

When seeking to play, wolves will dance and bow playfully. Playtime can also include a game of chase, jaw sparring, and varied vocalizations.

For wolves, playtime isn’t only fun, it strengthens family bonds and reaffirms social status within the pack. According to a new study published May 11, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE , wolf pups are more likely to play on equal terms with wolves of similar age. Authors Jennifer Essler from the Messerli Research Institute (Vetmed Vienna) and the Wolf Science Center in Austria propose that such behavior may act to reinforce the dominant adult and subordinate puppy hierarchy established outside of play, and hope that continued research in this area may provide further insight.

Read more via EurekAlert!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Conservation-Minded Kiddo Runs for Wolves

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Eleven year-old Lizzy from White Plains, New York is running a 5K on May 14th to raise awareness for wolves and support the Wolf Conservation Center!

 Lizzy has always loved wolves and she wants to help others love them as well. According to Lizzy, wolves are beautiful creatures that play very important roles in our ecosystem so we shouldn’t be afraid of them – we should help them!

If you’d like to support Lizzy and the wolves she loves, please make a donation to the WCC and mention Lizzy’s name in the comments section. She’s running for the future of wolves so please join the WCC and let out a long supportive howl for Lizzy – a passionate junior activist who is determined to make the world a better place!

Donate here.

 More information about the Glenn D. Loucks Memorial Race.

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