Friday, November 17, 2017

Ambassador Wolf Atka Turns 15 and a Half

Throw back your head and let out a long celebratory birthday howl for Atka! Today he turns 15 and a half years old! Happy (half) Birthday, Atka! 

We love you so.

...and gesundheit!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Summary of WCC's Red Wolf and Mexican Gray Wolf Breeding Plans/Transfers

Mexican gray wolf M1564 (LighHawk) arriving at the WCC

Hello everyone,

The Wolf Conservation Center participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for two critically endangered wolf species, the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) and the red wolf (Canis rufus). The Mexican gray wolf and the red wolf are among the rarest mammals in North America; both species were at one time extinct in the wild.

While the WCC has been a vocal and visible advocate in trying to secure protections for critically endangered wolf species, we have also naturally been quite active in physically safeguarding the representatives of the rare species that have been entrusted to our care.

Organizations participating in the SSP are tasked with basic husbandry, collaborating in the carefully managed captive breeding program, recommendations for release, and research.

This work is literally “behind the scenes” as visitors rarely get to see the wolves because they are generally kept off-exhibit to maintain their healthy aversion to humans.

This winter promises to be an exciting one as it features not only our normal husbandry, but also five breeding pairs (three Mexican wolf pairs and two red), collection of genetic material, and even an extraordinary medical procedure.

Because the entire existing populations of Mexican wolves and red wolves are derived from such a limited founding populations (just 7 individuals for the Mexican wolf and 14 for the red wolf), genetic health is the primary consideration governing decisions re: reproductive pairings and captive-to-wild release events. It is also the reason that the SSP programs for both wolf species pursue extraordinary conservation measures to save these species including semen collection, gamete cryopreservation, and artificial insemination (AI).

Below is a summary of the red wolf and Mexican gray wolf breeding plans and transfers.


Breeding Update:

  • Receive red wolf parents M1784 and F1858 along with their pups m2206, m2208, f2210 and f2211 from the Museum of Life and Science. The parents will be given an opportunity to breed again this year to produce multigenerational pack. We have not determined which enclosure the family reside in at this time.
  • Red wolf F2121 (Charlotte) will leave her siblings to be paired with red wolf M1606 from USFWS’s Sandy Ridge facility in North Carolina. They will be given an opportunity to breed.

  • Red wolf M2116 (Redford) will be transferred to the Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park to breed. I do not know the name or studbook number for the female. More about the Binghamton Zoo and red wolves (from 2014):
  • Red wolf F1568 (Argo) was be transferred to Mill Mountain Zoo, VA, to be a companion her brother, M1566 (Smokey)
  • Red wolf M1803 (Moose) was transferred to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC where he will be paired with a female (I do not know the name or studbook number for the female) for breeding.


Breeding Update:
  • Mexican gray wolf F1505 (Trumpet) will remain at the WCC and leave her parents to be paired with two-year-old Mexican gray wolf M1564 (LightHawk) for breeding.
  • Mexican gray wolves M1133 (Rhett) and F1226 (Belle) will be given an opportunity to breed again, however, this time via artificial insemination (AI). Because the yearlings are reaching sexual maturity, the males and females will need to be separated for breeding season. We’re utilizing AI for breeding, as an alternate to permanently removing the yearlings from the family. If successful, the family will accommodate three generations of offspring.
  • Mexican gray wolves M1198 (Alléno) and F1143 (Rosa) will be given an opportunity to breed again. Last year the pair was given the opportunity via AI. This year Rosa and Alléno will be paired physically.

Other Changes:
Mexican gray wolf M1059 (Diego) will join Mexican gray wolf F1435 (Magdalena) and reside together (still at the WCC) as companions only.


Saying Goodbye...

So, this season we’re welcoming some new wolves (red wolf family, red wolf male, Mexican gray wolf male) and also saying goodbye to others (red wolves Redford, Moose and Argo). Saying goodbye is never easy, however, we honestly believe Redford, Moose and Argo will find better opportunities in their new homes. Argo was with her dear brother Smokey. Redford will no longer be ranked lowest in the family hierarchy – at his new home he’ll be “top dog” and with a lady! And then there is Moose. Beyond granting an opportunity for Moose to breed again, his departure gives him a chance to be social again. Moose was born at the WCC in 2010. It is very unlikely that Moose will ever welcome a new mate if he remains at the WCC – he’s just too territorial when it comes to his home turf. So, by letting Moose go, we’re not only giving him a chance to support the recovery of his rare species via more potential pups, we’re also giving him a chance to love and be loved again by other wolves.

Diego and Rosa

Splitting up Diego and Rosa is the toughest pill for us to swallow. Last year we tried to allow the two to be paired with wolves who are a better genetic match via AI attempts. However, because we cannot count on AI to be as successful as a real breeding event, the Mexican Wolf SSP decided that Rosa and Alléno should be paired because their potential pups are critical to enhancing the genetic health of the captive population. The good news is both Rosa and Alléno will remain at the WCC and they will be given the opportunity to find love and companionship with new partners.

Get Ready

Hold on to your seats… next spring we can potentially welcome 5 litters. Just imagine… Mini Trumpets! Mini Charlottes too! Trumpet half siblings! And more lovely little lobos with darling overbites (pups from Belle and Rhett).

Big thanks to all of you for watching. Your passion for wolves and wonderful support are among the reasons we love having you as members of the WCC pack!

~ Maggie Howell, Wolf Conservation Center Executive Director

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Gifts for "Game of Thrones" Fans that Support WCC Wolves

Box with Ghost

Attention Game of Thrones Fans!

Winter is Here! Show your love for the hit HBO show Game of Thrones, and help save critically endangered wolves at the same time by shopping The Game of Thrones Premium Box Collection by CultureFly.

Delivering four times a year, the Game of Thrones Box will bring all the treasures from Westeros right to your doorstep. Each uniquely themed box is packed with over $120 worth of 100% EXCLUSIVE apparel, accessories, vinyl figures, home goods, and more. Pre-orders are currently open for the limited edition inaugural box.

$5.00 from each box purchased via this exclusive link will go to helping wolf recovery efforts at the WCC!

Use code WOLF at checkout for 10% off the first box - code expires 12/31/17.

Friday, November 10, 2017

A Wild Salute to Our Veterans


As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Volunteers With Wings Making A Difference for Lobos

Winter is an exciting season for wolves and the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC); it’s the season of romance! Wolves are “mono-estrus” -- breeding only once a year during the winter months.

The Species Survival Plan (SSP) management group for the Mexican gray wolf determines which wolves should breed each year by using software developed for the population management of endangered species. Genetic diversity is the primary consideration in the selection of Mexican wolf breeding pairs because all Mexican wolves descended from just seven founders rescued from extinction.

It turns out that Mexican gray wolf F1505 (affectionately nicknamed Trumpet) has a great match on paper. She has an extremely low inbreeding coefficient with a wolf she has never met - Mexican gray wolf M1564.

Optimistic that our matchmaking will be successful, our first task beyond planning on paper is to unite the wolves in reality. Sounds easy, but what if the wolves are on opposite corners of the country? With breeding season approaching, we needed to get M1564 from New Mexico to New York. But how?

For occasions such as this, we call upon a very special group to help-- one with wings!

LightHawk is a volunteer-based environmental aviation organization that donates flights to conservation groups. LightHawk asks that its volunteers bring a lot more than skill. For flights over North America, pilots use their own aircraft and absorb the cost of fuel, insurance, and hangaring during a mission.

Early in the morning on October 18, pilot Michael Baum prepped his aircraft (a Socata TBM 700) at Truth or Consequences, NM. There, WCC curator Rebecca Bose and the crated lobo boarded his high performance single-engine plane to fly 3.5 hours to St. Louis, MO.

lighthawk_logo_sm_3Next, Rebecca and the wolf met Jim and Pat Houser to board a second plane, their Pilatus PC-12, for 3.5 more hours in the air to get them to Danbury, CT.

This wasn’t the first time that pilot Jim Houser has swooped in from the sky to offer support to the WCC and endangered wolf recovery. In 2013, Jim flew Rebecca and two newborn Mexican gray wolf pups in his six-passenger plane.
After a full day of flying, the dedicated crew reached their final destination – the WCC in South Salem, NY. It was a long day for everyone involved, but an especially hairy one for the elusive lobo.

But with each cautious step form his travel crate with the soft earth beneath his paws, M1564 began to ease. A new chapter had begun for the lobo, and it started with a name.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Killing 1000 Wolves is Not Conservation

In Canada, long-outdated policies continue to allow the use of reckless and violent poisons to kill wolves... and wolves aren't the only ones suffering.

A minimum of 2,130 animals have been killed under the guise of conserving a herd of roughly 80 caribou in a landscape that is now 96% disturbed by oil, gas and forestry.

Numbers obtained by our friends at Wolf Awareness Inc show over 1,000 wolves have been gunned down from helicopters, strangled in snares, and poisoned with strychnine since 2005; and an estimated 250 other non-target animals have been accidentally poisoned.

It's no secret that strychnine is inhumane.

When animals are poisoned with strychnine, it takes a long time to die. The animals are completely lucid throughout the whole poisoning episode - they can hear everything, they can see everything, they can feel everything.

It's the 21st century. Is this what conservation should look like?


For more information, please visit Wolf Awareness Inc's new campaign at

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Strength of the Wolf is Teamwork

In a widely used behavioral experiment that requires teamwork, wolves showed up their domesticated cousins.

The study led at the Wolf Science Centre in Ernstbrunn, Austria calls into question a long-held assumption that domestication fosters more cooperative individuals.

To determine who the better team-player is, researchers put food on a tray attached to two ropes and tested pairs of dogs or wolves in an exercise where the animals could get the food only if each individual pulled on a different rope at the same time. When the dogs were tested, they failed to cooperatively pull the two ends of a rope at the same time to obtain a piece of food. The wolves, on the other hand, showed perfect teamwork.

Should we be surprised? Nope.

After all, the strength of the wolf is the pack.