Monday, March 29, 2010

A Day in the Life of Doug Smith

Rolf Peterson and member of Doug Smith's research team examine an elk carcass with WCC staff and volunteers.

Doug Smith, the National Park Service's director of the Yellowstone Wolf Recovery Project, illustrated the value of wolves in the Yellowstone ecosystem with the following quote I often refer to:

“Wolves are to Yellowstone what water is to the everglades.”

Doug Smith has studied wolves for over 30 years. He started as a biologist working with another big name in the wolf research world, Rolf Peterson, on the Isle Royale wolf-moose study - the longest running carnivore study in the world! In 1994, Smith started working for the Yellowstone wolf reintroduction effort. Having been with the Yellowstone wolf recovery project since the time of its inception, Smith is the face and voice for the hundreds of wolves that have inspired so many.

To learn what a day in Doug Smith's life is like from The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, please click "Here".

To learn how you can join us in Yellowstone this May, please click "Here"

Friday, March 19, 2010

Alaska's Controversial Aerial Hunting Program Claims the Webber Creek Pack

The National Park Service is at odds with the the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for killing the Webber Creek Pack, one of seven packs the park service is following in the Yukon Charley Rivers National Preserve using GPS radio collars.

The Yukon-Charley superintendent, Greg Dudgeon, believes that the loss of the pack is a blow to the preserve's 16-year research project and has requested an emergency closure to the general hunting and trapping seasons for wolves in the preserve.

To read more from the Anchorage Daily News, please click "Here".

Take action!
If your hackles are up and you agree that it is time to put an end to aerial hunting for good, please contact your representative and ask that they co-sponsor the Protect America's Wildlife (PAW) bill.

For Sample message points, click "More"
Sample Message Points

• Over 35 years ago, Congress banned use of aircraft to hunt wolves and other wildlife by passing the Airborne Hunting Act (AHA) with great bipartisan support. But since 2003, over 1000 wolves in Alaska have been shot by private hunters using airplanes.
• The AHA does allow for the limited use of aerial gunning as a wildlife management tool. But the state’s aerial gunning program is unnecessary, unscientific and is spiraling out of control.
• The program lacks a scientific foundation and aims to virtually eliminate or drastically reduce wolf populations in nearly 60,000 square miles of Alaska.
• Alaska’s aerial gunning program also targets brown and black bears, including sows and cubs, by promoting use of aircraft for “land and shoot” hunting of bears in over 12,000 square miles of the state.
• Fortunately, Rep. George Miller (CA) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (CA) have introduced the Protect America’s Wildlife (PAW) Act to close the loophole in the Airborne Hunting Act.
• The PAW Act would:
o Clarify when states can use aircraft to kill wolves and other predators to protect wildlife (legitimate biological emergency of prey species, for example)
o Allow states to use aerial control to protect land, water, wildlife, livestock, domesticated animals, human life and crops
o Stop states from using aerial gunning to artificially boost game species populations
o Require states to provide a scientific foundation to use aircraft for wildlife management
• Alaska’s program is not legitimate wildlife management. The state’s aerial “predator control” is occurring in areas already suffering from an overabundance of prey. In March 2009, for example, the state removed 84 wolves from the Upper Yukon/Tanana area, an area they are now actively trying to reduce prey populations in, by allowing hunters to kill female moose. A surplus of prey species can result in overgrazing, starvation and the spread of disease among excessive prey.
• Wolves help maintain ecosystem health by keeping moose and caribou populations both in check and healthy by often preying upon old, sick and injured animals. Removing keystone predators such as wolves can cause long-term damage to fragile forest and tundra ecosystems.
• Shooting wildlife from aircraft or chasing wildlife with aircraft to exhaustion, then landing and shooting them at close range, is a clear violation of the rules of ethical hunting. Most hunters are opposed to the use of aircraft to hunt because, among other reasons, it is not considered “fair-chase hunting” and is unsportsmanlike.
• Other states are threatening to follow Alaska’s lead, making aerial gunning a national issue once again.
• SENATE ASK: Senators NAME and NAME should cosponsor the Protect America’s Wildlife Act (S. 1535)
• HOUSE ASK: Representative NAME should cosponsor the Protect America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 3381)
• It is time to stop this unnecessary and unscientific practice once and for all, to protect wolves, other predators, and ecosystems in Alaska and the lower 48 states.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thank you

Apache died a week ago today. When we announced his death, we expected that the news would weigh heavy on the hearts of many. We did not anticipate, however, the scale of Apache’s impact on people all around the world. Thank you so much for sharing your kind words, memories and photos. It has become clear that the Apache’s territory far exceeds the boundaries of our gates.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Tribute to Apache

Apache, the leader of the Wolf Conservation Center's "ambassador"
pack, passed away on March 10, 2010 at the age of 12. A benevolent alpha, Apache thrilled tens of thousands of visitors lucky enough to howl along with him. His presence and personality will be missed.

Music: "Do you realize?" by The Flaming Lips

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rest in Peace

May 5, 1997 - March 10, 2010

"We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes - something known only to her and to the mountain."
~ Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

I couldn't help but recall this essay when the fire within the eyes of our benevolent leader slowly faded this afternoon. Apache the ambassador wolf died today from cancer. It's difficult to find words, perhaps that is why I am borrowing some of Aldo Leopold's most powerful ones from "Thinking Like a Mountain." It is unlikely that Leopold could have imagined the far-reaching impact his words would have. Apache's influence was great as well, he touched all who were lucky enough to hear his howl.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The End of an Era

The Druid Pack, perhaps Yellowstone's most famous pack, is in danger of "fading away."

Wolves were exterminated from Yellowstone Park in the mid-1920’s. In the absence of natural predators, the elk population gradually increased over the next 70 years. In 1995 and 1996, Canadian gray wolves were transported from Canada to Yellowstone National Park with the expectation that the species would repopulate the sprawling landscape and restore balance in the the declining ecosystem. In 1996 a number of the wolves introduced to Yellowstone were related and five of these animals were released together. They were named the Druid Peak pack. Since the arrival of those first immigrants, wolves have thrived in Yellowstone — and none more dramatically than the Druids. It's been 14 years now and the Druids have been the subject of two feature length documentaries by National Geographic and thus inspiring people far beyond the boundaries of the park. The pack is now down to one wolf. It seems that an era has ended.

To read more from Ralph Maughan's Wildlife News, please click "Here".

To learn how you can join us in Yellowstone this May, please click "Here"

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Body Language of Love?

Here's some recent video of our exhibit red wolves. Can you see why we think pups may be on the way? Keep your fingers crossed!
Music: "Chicago Falcon" by The Budos Band (available on iTunes)