Thursday, March 26, 2015

Celebrating the Mexican Wolf's Return to The Wild


On March 29, 1998, 11 captive-reared Mexican gray wolves were released to the wild for the first time. Missing from the landscape for more than 30 years, the howl of the rarest and most unique subspecies of gray wolf was once again greeted by the mountains of the southwest. This month marks the 17th anniversary of this historic event, a significant milestone for the lobo and wildlife conservation.

In honor of this "wild holiday," children and adults alike are opening their hearts and howling loud for the Lobo!  Happy #LoboWeek!

 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Preserving and Protecting the Imperiled Mexican Gray Wolf

The Wolf Conservation Center participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and Recovery Plan for the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupis baileyi)  -- North America' most endangered gray wolf. Prior to the Mexican wolf's return to the wild 17 years ago, the species was completely extinct in the wild. But under the aegis of the Endangered Species Act, reintroduction efforts in the past two decades have established a small, wild population of 109 between Arizona and New Mexico. Presently, there are approximately 400 Mexican gray wolves remaining in the world, the majority living in captivity within the network of facilities like the WCC participating in the SSP.

 We hope you enjoy our story as we carry out the work of their recovery.  Happy ‪#‎LoboWeek‬!

 
The Mexican Wolf from Lincoln Athas on Vimeo.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Study Reveals What Mexican Gray Wolves Need to Survive


On March 29, 1998, 11 captive-reared Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) were released to the wild for the first time in the Blue Range Recovery Area of Arizona and New Mexico. Missing from the landscape for more than 30 years, the howl of the rarest and most unique subspecies of gray wolf was once again greeted by the mountains of the southwest. This week marks the 17th anniversary of this historic event, a significant milestone for the lobo and wildlife conservation! On this first day of #LoboWeek, we're revisiting an important study that reflects what is needed to keep the subspecies going. Happy #Loboweek!

Study Reveals What Mexican Gray Wolves Need to Survive

Originally posted on Defenders of Wildlife Blog "Wolf Wanderers" on March 20, 2014 by Dan Thornhill, Eva Sargent and Courtney Sexton.

Mexican gray wolves are one of the rarest and most critically-endangered animals in the U.S. This subspecies of wolves – known in the Southwest as lobos –descended from the first wave of wolves to cross the Bering Straits from Asia to Alaska many thousands of years ago. Mexican gray wolves have a long history of wandering across the landscape. Over time, they made their way south into the southwestern U.S. and central Mexico where they adapted to life in the forested “sky island” ranges in a sea of grassland and desert, and from where they draw their common name. In spite of their uniqueness, adaptability, and long history, very few lobos remain today. Deliberate persecution drove Mexican gray wolves to the brink of extinction; in the late 1970s and early 80’s the last handful of wild Mexican gray wolves was captured to begin a captive breeding program.

Of these five surviving lobos, only three were unrelated. Along with four pure Mexican gray wolves already in captivity, these 7 “founders” were all that stood between survival and complete extinction of the Mexican gray wolf. After many years of work to restore the lobo in the southwest U.S., there are currently about (109) wolves in one wild population in Arizona and New Mexico, and another 300 living in captivity.

But continued recovery of these unique wolves is far from certain. Small populations of animals face genetic problems from inbreeding that can undermine their recovery. This problem is particularly pronounced in Mexican gray wolves because there were so few survivors when recovery efforts began. For Mexican gray wolves to have a chance at survival in the wild, there must be “genetic exchange” or migration of wolves between populations and reproduction across those populations. But how many populations, and how much migration and reproduction are needed to make sure Mexican wolves can sustain themselves in the future?  All too often, wildlife managers guess at the answer.



Thanks to Drs. Carlos Carroll, Richard Fredrickson, and Robert Lacy, however, we don’t have to guess any longer. These well-respected scientists (and members of the lobo Recovery Team) designed a complex model that brought together information on Mexican gray wolf genetics, habitat and demography to measure just how much flow between populations is needed to keep the subspecies going. Their results demonstrated that the fewer wolves moving between populations, the more likely it is that Mexican gray wolves will go extinct. To stave off extinction, about one wolf from each generation must access another population. And, for the model to work, there must be at least three populations with this movement happening between them. The good news is that this is possible, provided that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service establishes two additional populations and lets lobos move from population to population.

Still, movement across the landscape, by itself, is not enough to solve the crisis. The migrating wolves also have to find a mate and have pups. This is a special challenge for wolves because of their unique pack structure – in a typical wolf pack only the pack leaders, or “alphas,” reproduce. In order to be counted as an “effective migrant” in this model (and thus lessen extinction odds), wolves had to both migrate and become a reproducing pack leader. When this requirement is added to the fact that there is currently only one small population (which is suffering from a lack of genetic diversity), and only a few areas with sufficient wolf habitat, the conservation challenges for Mexican gray wolves become formidable.

But knowing what these challenges are allows us to help the wolves overcome them. This latest study by Dr. Carroll and colleagues enables us to move beyond generalities and to get really specific when it comes to wolf conservation. We now know precisely what Mexican gray wolves need to recover. With this information, there is no room for excuses. For these wolves to succeed, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs follow what science tells us – begin building two additional populations, release more wolves, and implement a viable recovery plan (explaining why the Recovery Team hasn’t met since 2011 would be nice, too). The clock is ticking on the lobos’ chances for survival. No species should have to face extinction at the hands of humanity, much less twice.

It's LoboWeek - Honoring America's Most Endangered Gray Wolf


The Wolf Conservation Center joins #LoboWeek, an annual effort that will harness the collective power of a WILD group of partners to educate people about the importance of wolves on the landscape of the southwest. On March 29, 1998, 11 captive-reared Mexican gray wolves were released to the wild for the first time in Arizona and New Mexico. Missing from the landscape for more than 30 years, the howl of the rarest and most unique subspecies of gray wolf was once again greeted by the mountains of the southwest. This week, #LoboWeek, marks the 17th anniversary of this historic event, a significant milestone for the lobo and wildlife conservation! In recognition of the anniversary, wildlife organizations, zoos, advocacy groups, businesses, and individuals are coming together with one common purpose - to educate people about the Mexican wolf or "lobo" and our efforts to successfully restore this critically endangered wolf to their ancestral homes in the wild. 

“#LoboWeek is not only a unique holiday, it’s an awareness raising tool that allows us to educate people about America’s most endangered gray wolf,” explained Wolf Conservation Center's Maggie Howell. “Mexican gray wolves remain critically endangered due to natural and political challenges they face. Via the #LoboWeek movement, we aim to discuss our critical efforts to recover Mexican wolves and mobilize support for these essential creatures who cannot speak for themselves. With the WCC’s over 2 million followers on Facebook alone, our #LoboWeek howls are sure to be heard!”

To learn more about #LoboWeek and how you can be a part, please visit our #LoboWeek web page and the WCC Facebook Page.

 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Join An International Movement To Celebrate a Milestone in Wolf Recovery - ‪#‎LoboWeek‬ returns on March 23rd!



On March 29, 1998, 11 captive-reared Mexican gray wolves were released to the wild for the first time. Missing from the landscape for more than 30 years, the howl of the rarest and most unique subspecies of gray wolf, was once again greeted by the mountains of the southwest. This month marks the 17th anniversary of this historic event, a significant milestone for the lobo and wildlife conservation.

Learn how you can celebrate and download the free #LoboWeek Badge and photos HERE.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy Saint Patrick's Day