Friday, November 28, 2008

Route 22, Where the Buffalo Roam...

Since joining the Wolf Conservation Center as a volunteer, I’ve been lucky to see and do a lot of things I never thought I’d experience. Today, driving down Route 22 in the Center's pickup truck brought yet another situation I never even dreamed of. Sure I’ve driven cars and ridden my bike on various sections of that road before, but I’ve never done it with one, let alone two, buffalo riding along with me as I did today. Yes, buffalo, and no, they weren’t alive anymore.

The story behind this is rather simple. The good folks up at Gem Farms Buffalo in Castleton, New York raise buffalo on a natural grass diet free of antibiotics or hormones and sell the meat. When a couple of their older buffalo recently died of natural causes, the owners of the farm called us (as they had on a couple of previous occasions) to see if we could use the meat. Having 28 hungry canine mouths to feed, we were more than happy to accept their generous offer.

The procedure couldn’t have been simpler: I drove in, and they simply loaded the buffalo onto the bed of the pickup using a forklift. I posted a few photos of that operation here because it was such a unique sight. (Obviously don’t click on the link if you think the images might upset you.)

A few minutes later I was on the road again. The ride back seemed a lot shorter than the trip up, probably because on the way back I got to pass the time watching people’s reactions as they realized what was in the back of the truck.

Thanks again to Gem Farms Buffalo. Check them out if you’re looking for buffalo meat, which is not only tasty but also low in cholesterol and fat, or any sort of gift having to do with buffalo.

If you want to see buffalo roaming free in the wild like these , I suggest you visit Yellowstone National Park if you can. Our friends Nathan Varley and Linda Thurston at Yellowstone Wolf Tracker offer amazing guided experiences in the park that give you ample opportunity to view Yellowstone’s diverse wildlife, including, of course, wolves. We also recommend the Yellowstone Association Institute, which offers a wide range of educational programs that feature plenty of time for wildlife watching.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

We want to wish a very happy holiday to all our friends, including visitors to the Center or one of our off-site programs; all those who have donated time, energy and resources to us; and our dedicated volunteers. We have a lot to be thankful for because we wouldn't be here if it weren't for all of you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

F836 Update

We received some good news from the US Fish and Wildlife Service last week. F836 and M1039 (now referred to as the Moonshine Pack) have chewed their way out of their soft release pen. (Soft release pens are enclosures that give wolves a chance to become acclimated to their new surrounding. Some, such as this one, are constructed out of mesh to give the wolves a chance to "release" themselves.) The last we heard, the wolves were together and staying within a mile of the pen. So far, so good! Who knows, maybe they'll have a Thanksgiving feast in the wild at the same time we're having ours inside...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Close Encounters of the Weird Kind

We’re constantly trying to make sure that our ambassador wolves have interesting experiences. Their enclosures are spacious and have natural varied terrain, but we also try to provide them with enrichment - activities that will challenge and mentally stimulate them. Enrichment can include hiding food in an empty enclosure and then letting the wolves into the enclosure to track down the food (something we often do when we host birthday parties) or introducing foreign objects with interesting textures and/or smells (such as boxes filled with horsehair and daubed with perfume) into their enclosure.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of letting Atka, our only traveling ambassador wolf, explore a new environment so he can experience all sorts of different sights and smells. That can lead to strange scenarios like the one captured above at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Connecticut. I think it’s safe to say that this sort of encounter never happens in the Arctic!

Thanks again to the Maritime Aquarium for having Atka appear there three times in November, and thanks to everybody who stopped by to learn about wolves and get a great look at Atka. If you want to see where Atka is appearing in the near future, click here. (Not all programs listed are open to the public so please check first!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Into the Wild...

F836     (photo by Mike Clough)

The Wolf Conservation Center is pleased to announce that F836, a five-year-old female Mexican Gray Wolf who lived at the Center for several years, is being released into the wilds of eastern Arizona this month. Right now she is in an acclimation holding pen with a male Mexican Gray Wolf; they will soon make their way to freedom.

We are thrilled to see a Mexican Gray Wolf, especially one we've helped take care of, released into the wild, and hope that F836 is successful in establishing a pack and flourishing in the national forests near the Arizona/New Mexico border. Life for the released Mexican Gray Wolves can be especially tough; several have been illegally killed. There are currently only about 50 Mexican Gray Wolves in the wild, and about 400 total in the world. So we hope you will join us in sending good thoughts F836's way!

F836 lived at the Center for a time because we take part in Species Survival Plans for endangered Mexican and Red wolves, essentially acting as a holding facility for them. Since they may one day be released into the wild, these wolves are not seen by visitors and have only very limited contact with staff. Even though visitors to the WCC do not get to view the SSP wolves, they do often get to hear them howling as they add their voices to those of our four ambassador wolves.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Something Fishy...

On Friday November 14th Atka visited the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT as part of the Aquarium’s efforts to educate visitors about endangered species. Atka hung out in a spacious corner on the main floor, giving families and school groups the rare opportunity (especially in an aquarium!) to see and learn about arctic wolves.

We always try to make life as interesting as possible for our ambassador wolves, so we literally spiced things up on Friday. Wolves seem to enjoy exploring new scents, the smellier the better. When a few people were kind enough to lend us their perfume bottles, we were able to give Atka some on-the-spot enrichment by spraying a little of the fragrance on the ground and letting him indulge his incredible sense of smell. We’re not going to reveal what his favorite brand is, but let’s just say you don’t have to spend a lot of money to satisfy a wolf’s taste in perfume.

Atka will make one last visit to the Maritime Aquarium on Thursday November 20th from 10am to 1pm. Even if you don’t get a chance to make it to the Aquarium that day, we encourage you to visit there some other time – it’s a fun place with lots to see!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Help Protect the Wolves!

Wolves in the Northern Rockies are once more in danger of losing the protection of the Endangered Species Act. After delisting the wolves and then being forced to relist them earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to delist them once again, in what looks like a last ditch effort by a lame duck administration.

You can help stop the roundly criticized plan, which could lead to the deaths of hundreds of wolves. Defenders of Wildlife has an online petition protesting the delisting proposal here. You can also register a comment at - just search for “wolves delist.” The period for public comment end on November 28.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Wolf Conservation Center Goes, uh, Chimp!

There are few people whose names transcend their chosen fields. Yesterday, the Wolf Conservation Center was lucky to meet one of those people, Jane Goodall, world famous primatologist and environmentalist, at a Roots & Shoots event at Western Connecticut State University.

Roots & Shoots, a program of the Jane Goodall Institute, is about making positive change happen—for our communities, for animals and for the environment. With tens of thousands of young people in almost 100 countries, the Roots & Shoots network branches out across the globe, connecting youth of all ages who share a common desire to help make our world a better place. Young people identify problems in their communities and take action through service projects, and youth-led campaigns.

On Sunday we participated in the WCSU Roots & Shoots Community Fair held on the WCSU Westside Campus. The event brought together young people from area schools, as well as representatives from local non-profit and service organizations to share their wonderful work with the rest of our community and Dr. Jane herself!

Greeting the group in "chimpanzese", Jane Goodall stressed the importance of community and doing something every day to make the world a better place. I was especially impressed (and inspired) by the different groups of kids or "Green Teams" that had already had such a positive impact on their own communities or on communities abroad like Oaxaca, Mexico.

Later we got to briefly meet Dr. Jane and Mr. H, the toy plush chimp that accompanies her on her travels around the world. It was quite an inspiring day and a great reminder that the youngest members of our communities can help bring about significant positive changes.

For more information about Roots and Shoots and the Jane Goodall Institute, please visit their website:

- Maggie

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Snowy Owl in Norwalk!

Atka is appearing at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk several times this month. During his first visit last week we received word that there was a Snowy Owl at nearby Calf Pasture Beach. We swung by on our way home, and sure enough, the owl was there

So this morning a few of us went by again, this time armed with cameras and coffee. We joined a small group of like-minded folk and watched the owl hang out on the rocks. The hours flew by as we got some great looks and snapped a bunch of photos. Hopefully the owl will keep using the beach as its temporary home so more people can get a good look. As with watching any wildlife, remember to keep your distance. (Just google "snowy owl" and "norwalk" and you should be able to easily find out if the owl is still being sighted.)

Atka will be returning to the Maritime Aquarium on the 14th and 20th, so maybe you'll be able to get a good look at two arctic animals on the same day! In Norwalk no less...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

First post

Greetings! Welcome to the blog of the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York ( We plan to update the blog as often as possible with stories about our wolves, photos, news about the Center, and other things we think will interest friends of the WCC. We hope that you will check back in regularly and, if you like,  give us feedback and suggestions about content you would like to see.