Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Death in the Family - F836

photo by Michael Clough

When we started this blog not too long ago, we anticipated having a lot of fun with it. There’s a lot of interesting and, we hope, entertaining things that go on at the Wolf Conservation Center that only a few of us get to see, whether it’s an enrichment session or a spat between wolves that ends with one of them perched on a platform to better keep an eye on her unruly sibling. We hoped that the blog would help people enjoy these incidents and perhaps feel a little bit more involved with the wolves, especially the SSP wolves, which few people get to see. We also hoped that we could share relevant new items and that people could help us celebrate significant milestones, like the occasional release of one of our wolves into the wild. What we failed to anticipate was using this forum to report tragic news such as the murder of one of those wolves.

We were horrified to learn that F836 , a Mexican Gray Wolf who lived at the WCC for several years, was found shot to death in Arizona earlier this month. She was found by the side of the highway where someone apparently dumped her body. F836, whose sister F838 was also fatally shot after being reintroduced into the wild, was five years old. She lived in the wild for barely two months. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service release about her death and the investigation into it can be found here.

I never saw F836 in person as far as I can recall. However, I do have an indelible “memory” of her. After F836’s release, I handled Atka, our traveling ambassador wolf, at several programs for schools that Maggie Howell, the WCC director, taught. When she spoke about the reintroduction of wolves, Maggie told the children about F836 being released into the wild and asked them to imagine what it must be like for her to finally be free to roam around and explore the wild. You could see the idea capture her listeners’ imaginations. It was a pretty cool way of conveying the concept of reintroduction. Effective too - every time I heard Maggie do that I couldn’t help but picture F836 in the wild, even though I’m sure what I was picturing didn’t look much like reality. Right now, unfortunately, I can only picture the solitary shoulder of a highway. Hopefully that mental image I used to have of her roaming free will return. She had two months in the wild. Sixty days. That’s too short by any measure.

Despite this tragic setback, the WCC remains dedicated to its mission of preserving wolves in the wild, and committed to the ongoing success of the Endangered Species Act. In the near future we will try to provide suggestions for interested people to help prevent something like this from happening again, so please keep checking in to this blog and our website.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Deli? Sure! New Delhi? Not so much...

As we’ve mentioned before, we are always looking for ways to provide stimulating enrichment to the ambassador wolves. So when Rebecca Bose, the WCC curator, recently traveled to India, she took the opportunity to bring back some turmeric, a pungent Indian spice, thinking that the ambassadors would be intrigued by the strange and strong new odor.

So one morning last week we crunched our way through the snow up to the ambassador enclosures with a bagful of the bright yellow powder. I was envisioning the wolves curiously sniffing, ecstatically scent-rolling, inadvertently coloring their fur yellow, and generally having a good time.

As you may have gathered from the title of this entry, things didn’t exactly work out that way. Click here to view photos of this spicy encounter and compare them to photos from the wolves’ experiences the next day with liverwurst imported fresh from Cameron’s Deli in exotic Cross River, NY.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Trains, Planes, and Elephants!

Rebecca Bose, the curator at the WCC, and Chris Evers, a longtime volunteer, recently returned from several weeks spent traveling in India. Chris is a naturalist who founded and runs Animal Embassy, which helps educate people about animals and the environment through the use of live ambassador animals and multimedia presentations. He will be presenting a special program at the Stamford Museum in Connecticut on January 30 about his and Rebecca's adventures in India. There will be slides (we've been lucky to already see some of Rebecca's incredible photos from their close encounters with tigers) and even a few live animals that call this part of Asia home.

There will be 2 presentations at the Bendel Mansion, the main building at the Stamford Museum: an early show from 5:30pm - 6:30 pm for ages 3-6, and a later show from 7pm - 8:30 pm for ages 6 and older.

NOTE: space is limited for the event, so pre-registration is required. Please call 203.322.1646 ext. 6521 to register.
There is also a small fee: Museum Members: $5 | Non-members: $8

A bunch of us from the Wolf Center will be there and we hope some of you can join us. (Say hello if you see one of us wearing WCC gear.) It should be a fascinating and fun evening!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama Blocks Bush's Last Minute Wolf Delisting

With a new administration in charge, federal regulators Wednesday promised a second look at a recent decision to drop gray wolves in the Great Lakes and Northern Rocky Mountains from the endangered list.

Read more from The Seattle Times. Feds rescind rule dropping wolves as 'endangered' By JOHN FLESHER. AP Environmental Writer.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Gray Wolves Delisted (Again)

The U.S. Department of Interior announced today that the western Great Lakes wolf population as well as most of the northern Rocky Mountain wolves will be removed from Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection.

The western Great Lakes region includes Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan as well as parts of Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, North Dakota and South Dakota. The close to 4,000 gray wolves of the western Great Lakes were originally removed from the endangered list in March 2007 until protections were restored in the fall of 2008 after a Federal judge found that the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) might have made a procedural error during the delisting process.

As for the northern Rocky Mountain population, wolves were delisted in Montana and Idaho but Wyoming wolves will remain protected by the federal government. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials determined that Wyoming’s wolf management plan, which allows wolves to be shot on sight in much of the state, would not adequately protect wolves.

The rule that removes wolves from federal protection and hands all wolf management duties back to the states will take effect in 30 days. Environmental groups have already pledged to challenge this latest wolf delisting attempt and they could be joined by Wyoming ranchers and the state of Wyoming itself!

Stay tuned.

The Dog Days of Summer at the WCC

Meet some of the Wolf Conservation Center's lesser known canines: "The Staff Pack". Kenn Bell from "The Dog Files" ( shows us how a handful of dogs can make life a little more interesting for our ambassador wolves Kaila, Apache, Lukas and Atka.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

2008 - A tough year for Yellowstone wolves

Early Morning Wolf-Watching in the Lamar Valley Yellowstone National Park

The wolf population dropped by 27% last year in Yellowstone National Park. While wildlife biologists say the decline is a natural occurance and the recovery program launched in 1995 has indeed succeeded, this past year was tough for the park's keystone predators.

Read more. Wolf numbers decline in Yellowstone in 2008 By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole Daily.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The debate continues...

Some unlikely groups might sue to put a stop to the newest attempt to delist the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf.

Read more. Wolf debate lingers into new year By Chris Merrill. Casper Star Tribune.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ice Capades

Lately the Center has experienced some relatively bad weather. In the last week we’ve been hit by snowstorms, windstorms and ice storms. It’s pretty much winter as usual in the Northeast, but that doesn’t make it any easier for us. We’ve been shivering from the cold and slipping and sliding around, occasionally flopping about on the ice like fish out of water. Of course, when I say we, I mean the humans at the Center. The wolves, on the other hand, are superbly adapted for winter. They’ve taken the recent weather in stride, moving around as gracefully as ever and enjoying the seasonal changes.

To see some photos of the wolves “chilling” (more figuratively than literally) at one of our recent photo session programs click here.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Have a joyous and healthy New Year!