Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mexican Gray Wolf Pups Featured on Scientific American



Thank you Scientific American for joining the first wolf pup checkup for the three critically endangered Mexican gray wolf pups born on May

Beyond being adorable, these pups represent the Wolf Conservation Center's active participation in an effort to save a species on the brink of extinction. The Mexican gray wolf 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 

Under Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) protocols, captive born pups must be checked during certain milestones in their development. WCC staff checked in when the pups were about 10 days old to determine the size of the litter and take stock of the pups’ health, and again today at their two-month mark to record their heart rate and weight, and administer wormer and the first of a series of Distemper/Parvo vaccinations.

To learn more about the importance and plight of Mexican gray wolves here.

Congress Demands Genetic Tests to Delist Endangered Mexican Wolves

Biologists processing a wolf pup, including drawing blood for DNA analysis and affixing a tracking collar. (Photo: Arizona Game and Fish Department)

In an Effort to Strip the Critically Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf of Protections, Congress Now Wants Genetic Tests


Proposed spending plan for the U.S. Interior Department calls for a study to determine whether Mexican gray wolves are a genetically distinct subspecies despite multiple studies that have confirmed the lobo as a valid subspecies.

Extensive, independent DNA testing – including recent studies using a more accurate genetic analysis – shows conclusively that both captive and wild Mexican wolves are a pure wolf subspecies and substantially different from northern gray wolves, dogs and coyotes. Biologists from the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team pull blood from every new wolf they collar or handle and submit it for DNA analysis to continually monitor the purity of wild Mexican wolves.

More...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

From Wolf to Wiener Dog? When Did it All Begin?

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The long-debated question of where dogs first appeared has always been complex. Wolves are the ancestors of dogs, but for years researchers have been unable to agree on when the canines were first domesticated. In a new study, a palaeogeneticist finds your dog’s ancestor came from wolves 40,000 yrs ago.

In the paper, titled “Ancient European dog genomes reveal continuity since the Early Neolithic,” in the journal Nature Communications, Stony Brook University's Krishna R. Veeramah, PhD and colleagues write that the most plausible explanation was a single instance of domestication as far as 40,000 years ago, contrary to the results of a previous analysis in 2016 that suggested dogs were domesticated twice.

However, Veeramah did not make any claims as to where dogs split from wolves, he noted.

More from Stony Brook University's SBU Happenings.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Mexican Wolf Pups Get Clean Bill Of Health at First Vet Visit

On May 22, Mexican gray wolf F1226 (affectionately nicknamed Belle) made a priceless contribution to the recovery of her rare and at-risk species, she gave birth to three pups!

The Wolf Conservation Center is one of 55 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.

Under Mexican Wolf SSP protocols, captive born pups must be checked during certain milestones in their development. WCC staff checked in when the pups were about 10 days old to determine the size of the litter and take stock of the pups’ health. Today, near the pups’ two-month mark, WCC volunteer veterinarian Paul Maus, DVM from North Westchester Veterinary Office, joined Wolf Conservation Center staff and volunteers to record each pup’s heart rate and weight, and administer wormer and the first of a series of Distemper/Parvo vaccinations.

All three little girls are look robust and healthy weighing between 7-8 pounds.

In an effort to raise awareness for Mexican gray wolves and our active participation in endangered species recovery, we invited a global audience to join the wellness check in real-time via Facebook’s live streaming application. The video reached nearly two million viewers by end of day! Unbeknownst to the critically endangered kiddos, they're already making a big difference.


Background

The Mexican gray wolf 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.

Currently 13 Mexican wolves call the WCC home. In the U.S., there is a single wild population comprising only 113 individuals - an increase from the 97 counted at the end of 2015.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Closer Look Reveals States Don’t Support Recovery of the Mexican Gray Wolf

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For Immediate Release, July 16th 2017
Contacts: Maggie Howell, (914) 763-2373, maggie@nywolf.org
Dave Parsons, (505) 908-0468, ellobodave@comcast.net

Closer Look Reveals States Don’t Support Recovery of the Mexican Gray Wolf 
Despite Their Central Role in the Recovery Planning Process


Albuquerque, NM – On June 29th the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) released its draft recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf. The critically endangered species is in the midst of a genetic crisis brought on by indiscriminate removals, a very small founder population, and the unwillingness of the Service to release enough wolves into the wild. The recovery plan has not been updated since 1982, a full sixteen years before Mexican gray wolves were first released. The newest recovery plan was created by collaborating exclusively with four southwestern states that have shown hostility towards the program, resulting in a plan that may doom the wolves. Representatives of these states have replaced the expert independent wolf biologists and related experts who were a central part of the last attempt at recovery planning which began in 2011. And all non-governmental stakeholders were cut out of the continued recovery planning process. The resulting draft plan hands total power over releases, wolf genetics, and the success of the program to the states.

Despite strong public support for wolf recovery in the southwestern states of Arizonaand New Mexico,where the wolves live now, and Utah and Colorado, where they will need to expand in the future, state game agencies have been actively sabotaging the wolves’ chances to recover. “They have been spending tax payer money on anti-wolf lobbyists,supporting increased killing of wolves,denying permits, and suing the federal government to stop needed wolf releases,” said Maggie Howell of the Wolf Conservation Center.

The law says recovery plans must be based on the best available science, but the states have instead told the Service what they will accept – too few wolves to ever be safe from extinction, and where they will accept them – mostly in Mexico, where neither the states nor the US government has any authority. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scrapped a science-based, multi-stakeholder recovery planning process and willfully invited the states who have demonstrated their hostility to Mexican wolves to rewrite the recovery plan,” said Dave Parsons of Project Coyote. “The last time the Fish and Wildlife service allowed the states to manage Mexican wolf recovery, the population declined by 24% over a six year period.” The paper Four States’ Efforts to Derail Wolf Recovery was released to the public today. It details the various ways the four states have tried to block or frustrate recovery of the Mexican gray wolf.

Without immediate attention to releasing more wolves in more places, this rare little wolf of the southwest United States and northern Mexico will disappear forever. Unfortunately, the draft recovery plan completely turns over the control of releases in the U.S. to the states of Arizona and New Mexico. Given their previous unwillingness to release enough wolves in their states, and their blocking of all releases of adults, the future of our iconic southwestern lobos looks grim.

The Wolf Conservation Center is an environmental education organization committed to conserving wolf populations in North America through science-based education programming and participation in the federal Species Survival Plans for the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf and red wolf. Through wolves the WCC teaches the broader message of conservation, ecological balance, and personal responsibility for improved human stewardship of our World. For more information, visit www.nywolf.org.

Project Coyote is a national nonprofit organization and a North American coalition of wildlife educators, scientists, ranchers, and community leaders promoting coexistence between people and wildlife, and compassionate conservation through education, science, and advocacy. For more information, visit www.projectcoyote.org.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

For Wolves, Playtime Strengthens Family Bonds



This is what brotherhood looks like.

Not only do wolves use body language to convey the rules of the family (a.k.a. pack) and communicate intentions, they also use it to initiate fun! 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. Can you identify the dominant brother?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Letter Urges Release of Endangered Mexican Gray Wolves Into Wild

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Thirty-one conservation and wolf-protection organizations, including the Wolf Conservation Center, sent a letter today urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expeditiously release endangered Mexican gray wolves to the wild.

Adding new wolves from captivity to the struggling wild population is vital to diversifying the gene pool of the 113 closely related wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico, the letter noted.

“Inbreeding could push the Mexican wolf over the cliff toward extinction if the Fish and Wildlife Service doesn’t release captive wolves soon,” said Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The trail forward for successful recovery gets steeper and narrower every day that wolf families are kept behind wire mesh, when they could be helping fix the genetic crisis in the wild.”

Two specific packs should be freed this month, according to recommendations from a federal and state interagency Mexican wolf team. The team advised that releases occur in June or July after elk calves are born “to facilitate natural hunting behavior.” Conservationists want to ensure those wolves are not sequestered indefinitely in pens, as wolf families have been in previous years after release plans were shelved. Today’s letter recommends specific animals and release locations in southern New Mexico.

The conservationists requested that other wolves also be released, including a single female from Mexico, christened “Sonora” by schoolchildren in a naming contest, who was captured after crossing the border into Arizona in March. Freeing her in the United States to breed with wolves here would follow guidelines in the new draft Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan that calls for “translocations” of wolves between U.S. and Mexico populations to enhance both populations’ genetics.

Read more via Center for Biological Diversity.