Monday, June 29, 2009

Western Great Lakes Wolves Returning to Endangered Species List

This is a surprise. The western Great Lakes wolf population numbers are good and the state plans were decent enough. Hopefully the lawsuit challenging the decision to remove Endangered Species Act protections from northern Rocky Mountain wolves will share a similar conclusion.

Click "more" for the AP press release.

Great Lakes wolves returning to endangered list

by John Flesher, Associated Press
June 29, 2009

Traverse City, Mich. — More than 4,000 gray wolves in the upper Great Lakes region are going back on the federal endangered species list -- at least temporarily.

A coalition of activist groups said Monday it reached an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore federal protections for wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The wolves had been dropped from the endangered list in May.

Several environmental and animal-protection groups sued in federal court this month to reverse the decision.

The settlement says the government erred by publishing the final rule to drop wolves from the list without providing for public notice and comment.

If the agency tries again to remove the wolves, the settlement calls for a comment period of at least 60 days.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Reindeer & Caribou Populations Plunging

Atka beholds our warming world
Some of the wildlife species hardest hit so far by global warming include caribou or reindeer, animals that wolf populations depend on in order to survive. Unless we take decisive steps to reverse global warming, more species will join the list of wildlife populations pushed to the brink of extinction by a changing climate.

To read more from Live Science, click on "More" below.
Reindeer & Caribou Populations Plunge
By Robert Roy Britt

Reindeer are adapted to the chilly climes of the Arctic tundra, including Scandinavia, as they sport hollow hairs that air and act as insulation.

Reindeer and caribou numbers worldwide have plunged nearly 60 percent in the last three decades due to climate change and habitat disturbance caused by humans, a new study finds.

Global warming and industrial development are driving the dramatic decline, said Liv Vors, a Ph.D. student at the University of Alberta who did the study with university biologist Mark Boyce.

"Their future is dubious if climate change and habitat disturbance continue at their current pace," Vors told LiveScience. "We do not know how quickly they can adapt to this changing world."

Reindeer and caribou are two names for the same species. "Generally speaking, caribou are the North American version and reindeer are European," Vors explained. Exact numbers for the creatures are not known, because not enough study has been done. But for those populations that have been studies, the average decline in numbers is 57 percent.

The results come from the first-ever comprehensive census analysis of this species, the researchers said. The findings are detailed in the Global Change Biology Journal. The decline raises serious concerns not only for the animals, but also for people living in northern latitudes who depend on the animals for their livelihood, the scientists say.

What's causing the decline, according to the study:

* Earlier spring green-ups now occur before migrating herds arrive north. This deprives mothers and calves of quality feeding.
* Warmer summers cause more intense insect activity, harassing animals and affecting their feeding.
* The impact of more freezing rain, in place of snow, has negatively impacted lichens that animals feed on during the colder months.

Another scientist warned of the fragility of the caribou and reindeer range last year:

"The caribou is central to the normal function of northern ecosystems," said Justina Ray, executive director of Wildlife Conservation Society-Canada. "With their huge range requirements and need for intact landscapes, these animals are serving as the litmus test for whether we will succeed in taking care of their needs in an area that is under intensifying pressure."

Caribou are vulnerable to a number of threats, including deforestation, natural resource extraction and accompanying road networks, and climate change, Ray and a colleague said last year. In North America, caribou have lost about one-third of their southern range, they said.

Vors said countries where the beasts live need to exercise their authority to protect them.

"This issue is extremely urgent," Vors said. "We have sufficient information about caribou habitat requirements to begin immediately a program of protection and recovery of critical habitat for woodland caribou. Clearly, climate change requires attention as well and the sooner we begin to reduce carbon emissions the more likely we will be able to protect some of the remaining caribou and reindeer herds."

Friday, June 5, 2009

June Contest! Let us treat you to Three Cups of Tea

photo by Maggie Howell

Time for our second contest!

One of the Wolf Conservation Center's most important messages is that we can all do something every day to make the world around us a better place. Our June contest is simple: we want to know what you can do to improve the world around you. All you have to do to enter is send us your idea. Specific ideas are better than general - for example "conserving water" is good, but "shutting off the water when I brush my teeth" is even better. Helping the environment is great, but anything that helps the world around you, even "being nicer to classmates or co-workers" counts! It can also be something you could do with your family, friends, or classmates. You don't have to actually put your idea into action, but we'd love it if it's something you actually plan to do.

Winners will be picked at random, so you don't have to worry about coming up with the cleverest idea or the one that makes the biggest impact. Anything that helps is good!

To enter, just email your idea along with your name and age (the contest is open to all ages) to us at The deadline is June 20th at 12:00 am. We won't publish any names or ideas without permission. We're psyched to see your ideas!

The prizes (you were waiting for that, weren't you) this month are really cool!

Our friends at publisher Penguin Books have provided us with copies of Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. We have copies of the original version (above) as well as the new young reader's edition (right) of the book. Three Cups of Tea is an inspirational and exciting true tale that shows how a determined person can change the world. It tells the story of how Mortenson, an American mountain climber, repaid the kindness of a Pakistan village by returning there to build a school, and has been building schools in the region ever since. Be warned: once you start the book, it's hard to put it down!

In addition, our new friends at Oregon Chai, which happens to be our favorite brand of chai mix (Josh went through a case this past winter!), were nice enough to donate boxes of their chai to give away!

So, winners will receive a copy of the book, one of our special new WCC bookmarks, and a box of Oregon Chai mix. One grand prize winner selected by us will also receive a plaster wolf paw print for leaving his/her "mark" on the world.

If you have any questions, please email us at
Good luck!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I Spy...

Here's some remote camera video of our SSP Mexican gray wolves provided by Wolf Conservation Center curator Rebecca Bose.

The first clip shows (from a distance) them feeding; the second was taken about 90 minutes later.