Monday, August 22, 2016

Supporters to Rally to Save Endangered Red Wolf

Ark_ESA_defend_red protect

Federal Wildlife Officials to Decide Fate of Native Carolina Species

RALEIGH, N.C.— With as few as 45 red wolves remaining in the wild, wildlife supporters and conservation organizations will gather in Raleigh at 12 noon on Wednesday, Aug. 24 in a rally to save this highly endangered North Carolina species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency tasked with recovering red wolves, is considering abandoning its red wolf recovery program this fall.

  • What: Rally for Red Wolves
  • What: 12 noon, Wednesday, Aug. 24 (pre-rally, wolf-education event starts at 10 a.m.)
  • Where: Pullen Park, 408 Ashe Ave., Raleigh, N.C. (Shelter No. 5, north side of the park)
  • Who: Speakers include Representative Pricey Harrison, a state legislator from Greensboro; Ron Sutherland, conservation scientist, Wildlands Network; Kim Wheeler, executive director, Red Wolf Coalition

Wolf experts will be on hand for a family-friendly, “pre-rally” educational event starting at 10 a.m. Following the noon rally, wolf supporters plan a short march through North Carolina State University and back to Pullen Park.

The Raleigh rally is the second of two planned rallies across the state this week — the first takes place on Tuesday in Washington, N.C. — to call attention to federal wildlife officials’ intent to abandon red wolf recovery. The rallies are sponsored by the Red Wolf Coalition, the Wildlands Network, the Endangered Species Coalition, North Carolina Wildlife Federation, The Wolf Conservation Center and the Center for Biological Diversity.

“Endangered species recovery is a matter of pride and concern for all U.S. citizens,” said Maggie Howell, executive director of the Wolf Conservation Center. “This is not an isolated issue for North Carolina. If USFWS abandons the recovery program, it would establish a dangerous precedent – effectively allowing any state to refuse recovery efforts for endangered species if they don’t feel like complying.”

“It’s simply jaw-dropping that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is consciously deciding whether to issue a death sentence — to knowingly allow a species found only in the United States to go extinct,” said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “The red wolf has been one of our greatest wildlife success stories, and it could be again.”

“It’s possible that the red wolf is the first species in history that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is simply going to let go extinct in the wild, when we know how to save it,” said Ron Sutherland.

The red wolf is one of the most endangered species in the world, and can only be found in the wild in North Carolina. In 1987 red wolves were reintroduced into eastern North Carolina. From an initial 14 wolves, the population grew to 130 individuals by 2006. By 2012 the red wolf population had shrunk to 90 to 100 individuals, in part due to wolves being shot during coyote hunts. A 2014 injunction on coyote hunting dramatically reduced shooting deaths, but the Service's authorization of private landowners to capture and kill red wolves has become a primary concern in recent years.

Nearly 500,000 red wolf supporters signed a petition delivered last month to the Fish and Wildlife Service calling on the agency to continue to work to recover the dwindling red wolf population. Now, with only a reported 45 red wolves left in the wild, the Service is expected to make an announcement in the fall on whether it will continue the three-decade old red wolf recovery program.

You can find more information on the planned rally here:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mexican Wolf Pups Holding Paws

This is what love looks like.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Wolf Conservation Center Mourns Endangered Mexican Wolf M1140

Dear friends,

It's with a heavy heart that I share sad news about a beloved lobo. Mexican gray wolf M1140, affectionately nicknamed “Mateo” by Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) supporters, passed away today.

F1140 was born on April 22, 2008 at the WCC. He never received the opportunity to take his rightful place on the wild landscape like brother and litter-mate M1141 did in 2015. Nor did he ever wear the badge of parenthood like littermates F1143 and M1139. But he was loved. Loved by his family and treasured by hundreds of people he would never know.

For all his 8 years, M1140 resided off-exhibit with his family in a remote enclosure. Wolves are naturally fearful of people, and a number of our Mexican gray wolves are candidates for release. Maintaining their timidity around people is essential if we want them to have a good chance of survival if released into the wild. The WCC’s Endangered Species Facility houses five vast enclosures which provide a natural environment where these most elusive creatures can reside with minimal human contact. Most of these enclosures are equipped with wireless surveillance cameras to allow WCC staff to observe food and water intake and monitor the physical well-being of each wolf without the animals’ knowledge.

Because these webcams are available to the public, M1140 unknowingly crept into our homes and our hearts, helping to raise awareness for the importance and plight of his wild kin.

In late July, M1140 displayed respiratory symptoms. The following day WCC staff captured the elusive lobo to examine him in person. He looked healthy at a glance, but one could easily hear he was in a bit of respiratory distress.

WCC Volunteer Veterinarian Dr. Paul Maus examined M1140, drew blood, and took x-rays of his throat, head, and chest. Very little was revealed at first, so we returned M1140 to his home after administering a strong antibiotic. M1140 remained energetic in the following days, but his respiratory symptoms continued. We captured the reluctant wolf again a few days later to ensure a healthy intake of water and to administer steroids. Again, M1140 continued to look good – he displayed healthy behavior. But his breathing and blood-work reflected otherwise. We carried on monitoring M1140 while specialists continued to review his blood-work and medical images. Over the weekend our worst fears were confirmed. M1140 had cancer.

M1140’s respiratory issue was an early indicator of a fast-growing nasal tumor, a deadly ailment that is thought to be prevalent in the managed population of Mexican gray wolves due to low genetic diversity. All Mexican wolves descended from just 7 founders rescued from extinction. Since 1995 more than 25 cases of nasal tumors have been documented in the captive populations of Mexican wolves in both Mexico and the U.S.. Although cancer represents only 3.3% of the causes of death in the registered Mexican wolf populations; 44.4% of these neoplasms are nasal tumors. In its great majority these tumors are locally aggressive but rarely metastasize. Mexican wolf F1145 (a.k.a. Anastasia) fell victim to the same cancer, but faster growing, in August of last year. She was M1140’s sister and littermate.

Thus on August 16, WCC staff brought M1140 to be seen by WCC veterinarian Dr Charlie Duffy VMD where his cancer was confirmed to have advanced - aggressively grown inward. M1140 is no longer in pain now. We put the sweet wolf to sleep.

It’s never easy saying goodbye. Especially when there is such strength in one's will to live. But despite M1140’s tenacity, his wild grit had waned. His battle was lost.

As we remember M1140, we hope he had an awareness of the love and appreciation we have for him. He was a beautiful wolf, a loyal bother and son, and valued contributor to the recovery of his rare and at-risk species. His memory lives on and will serve to remind us of our obligation to restore Mexican wolves to their rightful places in our landscapes, in our hearts, and in our culture.

Our hearts go out M1140’s sister F1143, his niece F1505 (a.k.a. Trumpet), and those of you he had unknowingly touched. R.I.P., Sweet lobo.

Maggie Howell, WCC Executive Drector

Monday, August 15, 2016

Alaskans Petition Governor To Rein In Predator Control

Press Release: For Immediate Release

Monday August 15, 2016

  • Rick Steiner: (Biologist);907-360-4503
  • Marybeth Holleman: (Writer); 907-360-4512
  • Jim Kowalsky, (Chair, Alaskans For Wildlife);; 907-488-2434
  • Vic Van Ballenberghe (Wildlife Scientist; former Board of Game member);; 907-351-0371

Today, 150 Alaska citizens from 28 communities across Alaska submitted a joint letter to Governor Bill Walker asking him to rein in the state’s predator control / "Intensive Management" (IM) program. This is the first such citizen petition submitted to the Governor on the issue.

The petition cites public concern regarding the significant expansion of lethal predator control efforts by the State of Alaska since 2003, conducted somewhat secretively and out-of-sight of the public.

Signatories to the letter include several former Alaska Board of Game members, a former Fish & Game commissioner, a former gubernatorial Chief of Staff, scientists, writers, photographers, doctors, lawyers, artists, musicians, teachers, hunters, business owners, etc., from across the state. Under the state constitution all Alaskans have equal rights to Alaska’s wildlife, but many Alaskans feel their voices are ignored by state wildlife managers.

While the National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have recently restricted lethal predator control on national parks, preserves, and refuges in Alaska, most of Alaska remains open to this controversial wildlife management practice.

The citizen’s petition issues a blistering rebuke of the state's rationale for predator control, stating in part:

“Alaska’s lethal predator control/IM program, as currently practiced, is unscientific, unnecessary, ineffective, costly, unethical, inhumane, and controversial. “

Accordingly, the petition asks for three significant adjustments to the current predator control/Intensive Management (IM) regime in Alaska:

1. Replace lethal predator control methods with non-lethal methods;
2. Terminate the “collaring for later control,” or “Judas wolf” program;
3. Prohibit all IM within 5 miles of federal conservation units.

These reasonable adjustments are all within the discretionary authority of the administration -- governor and Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADFG) commissioner -- and would dramatically reduce the unnecessary killing of Alaska's wolves and bears.

Contrary to claims by state wildlife managers (ADFG and Board of Game) that they are required by statute to conduct these lethal control programs, the petition points out that statute and regulation actually allow the administration considerable discretion as to how, with what methods, or even whether, to implement predator control programs.

The petition notes the fact that the administration of former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles (1994-2002) did not employ lethal predator control or “Judas wolf” collaring, yet sustained healthy ungulate (caribou, moose, deer) populations for human use.

Alaska nature writer and co-author of Among Wolves Marybeth Holleman said: “These draconian measures have to stop. One look at that map shows how predator control has grown like a cancer, unchecked and unrealized and unwanted by most Alaskans. And the methods are worse than pre-statehood. Even though he promised to represent all Alaskans and bring about positive change, Governor Walker has so far simply continued this war on Alaska's wildlife started by the Murkowski administration. It's way past time for the Governor to live up to his promises and right this ship.”

Jim Kowalsky, Chair of Alaskans For Wildlife based in Fairbanks, said: "Keystone predators have a critical role maintaining healthy wildland ecosystems. Predator removal is turning Alaska's famous wildlands into moose and caribou farms."

Rick Steiner, conservation biologist and former Univ. of Alaska professor, said: "These adjustments to the Alaska predator control program will protect food security for Alaskans, restore responsible wildlife management, and begin to rebuild Alaska's reputation around the world. The petition tapped into an enormous reservoir of discontent, even outrage, regarding the state's unethical predator control practices across Alaska. We are anxious to hear the governor's response."

The petition also asks the Governor to convene an Intensive Management Working Group, to review all predator control efforts by the state. Alaska citizens are eagerly awaiting a positive response from Governor Walker.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Mexican Wolf Pup Can Dig It!

Dig it, dig it, dig it.
Dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it.... WHOA!

Beyond being super cute diggers, these Mexican gray wolf pups represent the Wolf Conservation Center's active participation to save a species from 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.

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.

Red Wolf Born at the Wolf Conservation Center Has Wild Pup of His Own

Photo: John Murphy/USFWS

What's a healthy young red wolf to do to help perpetuate his critically endangered species? Fly to Florida to find a romantic partner, of course. Back in 2013, red wolf M1804, a.k.a. "Thicket," flew from the Wolf Conservation Center to St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, a remote barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, to be introduced to a potential mate on the wild landscape.

Fast forward three years - M1804 is a DAD with at least one confirmed pup! Born at the WCC in 2010, M1804 and his brother M1803 (Moose) are both now wearing the badge of fatherhood. We cannot wait to alert M1803's kiddos that they have a WILD cousin!

So throw back your head and join us in sending congratulatory howls to M1804! In lieu of gifts, the new papa asks that you help #SaveRedWolves by signing up to join the red wolf #Thunderclap to call on Dan Ashe to do his job and continue the red wolf recovery program in North Carolina!

A thunderclap is a crowd-speaking platform that helps people be heard by saying something together. On September 9th, Thunderclap will blast out a timed Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr post from all who join, creating a wave of attention.


The red wolf (Canis rufus) is the only wolf species found completely within the United States. Once common throughout the southeastern United States, red wolf populations were decimated by the 1960s due to intensive predator control programs and loss of habitat. In 1980, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) declared red wolves extinct in the wild after the last wild red wolves were gathered to survive in captivity, their wildness caged. With the support of the Federal Red Wolf Species Survival Plan, a national initiative whose primary purpose is to support the reestablishment of red wolves in the wild through captive breeding, public education, and research, and under the aegis of the Endangered Species Act, red wolves were reintroduced in North Carolina in 1987. They were the first federally-listed species to be returned to their native habitat, and have served as models for other programs. But today, USFWS, the very agency charged by federal law with protecting endangered species, is walking away from recovering the last wild red wolves to satisfy a few very vocal opponents. The current estimate puts the remaining wild population at their lowest level in decades. Only 40-45 wild red wolves remain.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Washington's Profanity Peak Wolf Pack Under Fire


Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife helicopters are in the air now to kill members of the Profanity wolf pack. Why? To protect cattle on public lands.

The decision was made under the guidelines of a new lethal removal protocol that was agreed to this spring by the state Wolf Advisory Group, a stakeholder group convened by WA Fish and Wildlife that includes agency staff and reps from the ranching, hunting and conservation community.

According to the protocol agreed to by the advisory group, lethal removal of wolves is considered after four confirmed depredations in one calendar year and requires that the affected ranchers have employed sanitation measures to avoid attracting wolves to livestock carcasses and have tried at least one proactive measure to deter conflicts with wolves at the time the livestock losses took place.

The kill order was issued following investigations concluding the wolves recently killed a fourth calf belonging to the Diamond M Ranch, the same operation that called for killing the Washington’s Wedge Pack in 2012. All the losses occurred on public lands grazing allotments in the remote and relatively roadless northeast corner of the state.

While the agency’s use of nonlethal measures to try to prevent conflict is a positive step, should we allow the killing of our nation’s wildlife on public lands? What say you?

Ways to take action.