Thursday, July 29, 2010

Governor Bill Richardson Issues Trapping Restrictions in Lobo Country!

7-29-10 - Governor Bill Richardson issued an executive order that prohibits trapping within the Mexican wolf recovery area in New Mexico. The order bans commercial and recreational trapping for a six-month period beginning on November 1, 2010, requires the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish to undertake a study of which traps and trapping methods most threaten wolves, and directs the Department of Tourism to undertake a study on potential economic benefits of lobo-related ecotourism.


Governor Richardson’s action demonstrates a momentous step at a crucial moment for the Mexican wolf program. The Mexican Wolf recovery effort has taken a significant hit in recent weeks with the illegal killing of several wolves. With fewer than 40 Mexican wolves currently living in the wild, the future of this critically endangered species needs more advocates like Governor Richardson taking action.

To read more from WildEarth Guardians, please click here.

The WCC will Host Three Breeding Pairs in 2011!

M1483 and F1397 by Josh Lewis
Although we are only midway through the summer season, the WCC team has been preparing for winter. Earlier this month, the Species Survival Plan (SSP) management groups for both the Mexican gray wolf and the red wolf determined the programs’ breeding pairs for the 2011 season. Wolves are “mono-estrus” -- breeding only once a year during the winter months. Hence, winter is an exciting time for wolves in North America and the WCC since we will again host three breeding pairs! Last week we announced plans to provide Mexican gray wolves F810 and M740 with the opportunity to procreate and we learned at last week’s Red Wolf SSP meeting that red wolf pairs F1291 & M1587 and F1397 & M1483 will also get a chance to prove fruitful! All six of these wolves are genetically valuable individuals that have been selected to breed because their offspring will increase the genetic diversity of their rare species. The WCC’s exhibit red wolf pair, F1397 & M1483, bred successfully last season so a triumphant go at it in this winter may offer WCC guests a chance to observe a multi-generational pack of this critically endangered species! We won’t know the outcome of any of these unions until “pup season” in April or May so until then, keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, July 26, 2010

WCC Curator Takes on New Responsibilities as Part of the Mexican Gray Wolf SSP Management Group!

Rebecca Bose with Mexican Wolf Pup in 2008
Earlier this month when representatives from facilities that participate in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) gathered in South Salem, NY for the Mexican Wolf annual meeting, there was a new member of the management group leading the conference: WCC Curator, Rebecca Bose. Rebecca joins eight other members in leading the discussion of the major issues within the SSP and making decisions about the 300 captive Mexican gray wolves in the U.S. and Mexico. The SSP management position is not entirely new to Rebecca, she was elected to serve on the Red Wolf Management Group in 2009. Please click here to read more aboput this exciting news!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

PUPDATE! Red Wolf Pups are Growing up!

11-week-old red wolf pups m1803 and m1804 are coming into their own! The two boys are all ears and they're growing more independent each day. Most active during the cooler hours of the day, the pups are often venturing beyond the den area to explore the outskirts of their enclosure. Although they're feeling adventurous, they still check in with parents, F1397 and M1483, as often as they can.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Match Making!

Mexican gary wolf M740
The Mexican Gray Wolf Species Survival Plan Annual Meeting came to an end over the weekend and we now have some excellent news to report! One of the chief items on the meeting’s agenda is the determination of wolf breeding pairs. During the meeting, the management group establishes which wolves should be bred each year by using software developed for the population management of endangered species. In 2011, there could be a potential “puppy boom” with 8 breeding pairs in the program! The Wolf Conservation Center is honored to house one of the chosen pairs, Mexican wolves F810 & M740. F810 is the #1-ranked Mexican gray wolf female in the U.S.! Both wolves are genetically valuable individuals and they have been given the opportunity to breed because their offspring will increase the genetic diversity of their rare species and enhance that species’ chance to survive and thrive in the wild. F810 has called the WCC home since 2004 and this fall will mark M740’s one-year anniversary since his arrival from the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, IL. This winter will mark their second opportunity to breed.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Return of the Lobo: Wolves Slated to Released into Mexico this September

Photo: Tom and Lisa Cuchara The last wild-roaming endangered Mexican gray wolves call a vast stretch of forest in southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico home, but soon they could have some company south of the border!

The Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY is hosting the 2010 Mexican Gray Wolf Species Survival Plan (MWSSP) Annual Meeting. This meeting brings together representatives from dozens of facilities participating in the Mexican Wolf SSP, including Fish and Wildlife Agencies from the US and Mexico, for an update on all aspects of the effort to save the critically endangered Mexican wolf from extinction, and the recovery of a sustainable population in the wild. This morning, Mexican federal biologists along with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials announced that they plan to release a five-member pack of wolves south of the New Mexico-Arizona border in the Mexican state of Sonora as early as September. A second release of a pregnant pair of wolves is targeted for the winter of 2011 and additional pairs could be released in the same area that following summer.

This move represents a significant step in the effort to grow the wild Mexican wolf population, which numbered just 42 at the end of 2009. Mexico hasn’t been home to the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf in decades.

The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), or “lobo,” is the smallest, southernmost occurring, and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in North America. Aggressive predator control programs at the turn of the century all but exterminated the Mexican wolf from the wild. With the capture of the last 7 remaining wild Mexican wolves approximately 30 years ago, a captive breeding program was initiated helping to save the Mexican wolf from extinction. Today, the captive population consists of over 300 animals, and encompasses close to 50 zoos and wildlife facilities throughout the United States and Mexico.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Mexican Gray Wolf Meeting is Off to a Great Start!

The 2010 Mexican Gray Wolf Species Survival Plan (MWSSP) Annual Meeting brought a great group of people to our neck of the woods! Close to 40 representatives from dozens of facilities participating in the Mexican Wolf SSP arrived yesterday bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to tackle the all issues associated with conserving the lobo. The morning started with a report on the Mexican wolf recovery program in Mexico followed by the status of recovery here in the US. Other presentations reported data from genetic studies on the captive and wild population and the details of reproductive research from 2010 and how to best implement reproductive science in the future. I can't report on everything right now (the meeting is still in progress) so hold tight! Meanwhile, while the meeting continues here at Le Chateau, some of the WCC's wolves are wondering where everyone is hiding! Perhaps Atka is feeling put off that his crew is absent, he chose not to come out when I visited him early this morning. Can you find Atka hiding in the green?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

WCC Hosts the 2010 Mexican Wolf Annual Meeting!

The WCC is honored to host the 2010 Mexican Gray Wolf Species Survival Plan (MWSSP) Annual Meeting! This meeting is bringing together representatives from dozens of facilities participating in the Mexican Wolf SSP, including Fish and Wildlife Agencies from the US and Mexico, for an update on all aspects of the effort to save the critically endangered Mexican wolf from extinction, and the recovery of a sustainable population in the wild. The meeting will open tomorrow morning at Westchester's own Le Chateau in an elegant space the restaurant generously donated to us. We'll just have to pretend that Le Chatau is a Mexican restaurant, not a French one!

The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), or “lobo,” is the smallest, southernmost occurring, and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in North America. Aggressive predator control programs at the turn of the century all but exterminated the Mexican wolf from the wild. With the capture of the last 7 remaining Mexican wolves in the wild in Mexico approximately 30 years ago, a captive breeding program was initiated and this helped save the Mexican wolf from extinction. Today, the captive population consists of over 300 animals, and encompasses close to 50 zoos and wildlife facilities throughout the United States and Mexico.

The Mexican Wolf recovery effort has taken a hit in recent weeks with the discovery of two Mexican wolves found dead, both illegally shot. Both wolves were alpha males, the leader of the Hawks Nest Pack in eastern Arizona and the leader of the San Mateo Pack in southern New Mexico. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is conducting a comprehensive investigation of this illegal shooting in collaboration with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and other partners. We can only hope that justice will be served.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Red Wolf Pups Outfox WCC Staff and Volunteers


Red wolf pups m1803 and m1804 are two months old and due for a health check. Their last checkup on May 20th went smoothly, the lone true challenge was locating the two-week-old pups in their lush enclosure. Yesterday's attempt to capture and vaccinate the pups proceeded neither with ease nor success!

Close to a dozen WCC staff and volunteers gathered early on Thursday evening to locate, capture, and "process" the two pups. Red wolf parents F1397 and M1483 moved easily to the vacant half of their enclosure where they watched the forthcoming follies without alarm. Based on past observations of the pups' behavior, we were fairly positive that the pups remained well stashed in the cavernous den designed by their mother. After the two hour attempt to excavate the pups using shovels, catch poles, flashlights, and mirrors yielded no wolves, the WCC team surrendered. We convened in the classroom to rehash the details of our defeat and spy upon the red wolf family via the WCC WOLFCAM. We watched the parents probe every spot where our scents likely lingered. They needed also to asses the damage we caused to their sturdy den. After a 30 minute survey of their home turf, F1397 stood outside the entrance of the den and summoned her boys to the surface. A spirited reunion followed and we couldn't help but cheer from the classroom at our own expense.

Several "fans" of the WCC on Facebook posted what they estimated the pups would weigh and unfortunately there will be no winner of this guessing game. We will pick one of the participating fans at random and send them a small prize nonetheless.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Red Wolf Pups are Ready to Rumble on 4th of July!

We hope everyone enjoyed their holiday weekend! Lukas, Kaila and Atka had a great time at our Saturday evening program: "Red Wolf, White Wolf and Blue Aawwwooooo!" Both wolves and guests enjoyed their red, white or blue frozen treats - the perfect therapy for the intense heat. When the WCC team returned from our FANTASTIC adventure in Yellowstone National Park, we were taken aback by the heat wave as well as the size of red wolf pups m1803 and m1804!!! The pups are two months old today and they're full of spirit. This video was taped on Saturday, July 4th. I'll take the sounds of the WCC over fireworks any day :-)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Day Four in Yellowstone!


Thursday was our final full day of wildlife watching and we assumed that the odds were low that we would add to our robust catalog of animals we had spotted up to that point. Thanks to WCC’s Spencer Wilhelm, a.k.a. “Hawkeye”, we were able to grow our list with the addition of yet another great beast, an elusive moose well concealed within a lush grove! The day was busy with continued wolf and grizzly interactions in Lamar Valley and a nice hike to the upper falls in the park’s Grand Canyon. We returned to Gardiner fulfilled and exhausted with a little time to wash up for dinner. The previous night’s feast was especially delightful joined by a special guest - world renowned wildlife tracker and author Jim Halfpenny! Our final dinner was equally exciting in the company of another special visitor, Emmy-award winning cinematographer Bob Lanids. It was a thrill to share our recent experiences with someone who has excelled in the art of wildlife filmmaking in Yellowstone for over 30 years and a treat to enjoy a private screening of one of Bob’s latest undertakings yet to be released! At the night’s end, The Wild Side’s Nathan and Linda prepared us for the next day, offering us one last chance to visit the park for a morning of wildlife adventures. Although this venture was optional, we all jumped at the opportunity to get one last Yellowstone “fix.” Our last morning jaunt was required to be brief, so when “Hawkeye” again demonstrated his gift behind the scope and located an animal most consider very difficult to spot in the wild, we were amazed! Thanks to Spencer, the WCC Yellowstone adventurers rounded out our list of sightings with the addition of a busy badger on the hunt!

What can I say - the WCC’s Yellowstone adventure exceeded everyone’s expectations, even those who have frequented the park in years past. Nathan and Linda were phenomenal guides and we can’t wait to join them in the country’s oldest national park again really soon. Winter, perhaps?

To view a list of the animal we spotted, please click "More"!
More...
Wolf
Elk
Bison
Mule Deer
Pronghorn
Moose
Bighorn Sheep
Mountain Goat
River Otter
Black Bear
Grizzly Bear
Badger
Yellow Bellied Marmot
Ground Squirrel
Least Chipmunk
Red Squirrel
Coyote
Cutthroat Trout
Snake (unidentified)
Great Blue Heron
Osprey
Bald Eagle
Sandhill Crane
Robin
Mountain Bluebird
Magpie
Swansons Hawk
Raven
Ruddy Duck
Goldeneye Duck
Cliff Swallows
Chimney Swifts
Lesser Scaup
Pigeon
American Dipper/Ouzel
Grackle
Killdeer
Canada Goose
Trumpeter Swan
Red Winged Blackbird
Brown Headed Cowbird
Coot

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day Three in Yellowstone!


7-1 2010 – Late this morning the WCC adventurers ascended a steep overlook to take a moment to remember a dear friend. Apache, the leader of the WCC’s ambassador wolf pack, died of cancer on March 10th, almost four months ago.

We shared some memories, shed some tears and cast handfuls of Apache’s ashes into the air, the wind carrying his remains above the Lamar Valley confluence, where the Lamar and Soda Butte Rivers blend. The ceremony was just another reminder that while one era had ended, others are just beginning.

Apache’s remains now reside in the area that the Druid Peak pack, some of the first Yellowstone wolves released into the park, once claimed as their own. Since the arrival of those early pioneers, wolves have thrived in the park, none more dramatically than the Druids. The Druids have been the subject of several documentaries and, like Apache, have inspired people far beyond their territory. The Druid Peak pack is now officially gone, the last Druid wolf dying just a few weeks ago. Today, a new pack, the Silver Pack, claims this prime real estate as its own. This relatively new pack has been quick to challenge the social norm, not unlike the early Druids, and thus has generated wonder within those who spy them through their scopes. For two days we have observed the Silvers interact with coyotes, bears and one another. These wolves have been busy, with a bright future riding on the survival of their four healthy (and adorable!) pups.

Only time will tell what the future holds for the Silver Pack. New packs will continue to emerge and also collapse, it’s Nature’s way. One thing we can trust is that Apache will forever dwell among so many other principal characters in the wolf world. Apache is now a part of the Yellowstone landscape, a wondrous place for a phenomenal soul.

Day Two in Yellowstone!


After being treated to a spectacular lightning storm (and a not-so-welcome amateur fireworks presentation) Tuesday night, we enjoyed another amazing day in the park Wednesday. By midday, the Wolf Conservation Center group had already come across a black bear, coyotes feeding on a kill, and a remarkable stand-off involving bears, coyotes, wolves, and an ex-bison. The rest of the day brought even more animal encounters and a trip to Yellowstone Falls, a sight so remarkably powerful in its beauty that its painted image helped convince Congress to make Yellowstone the world's first national park.

The downside of all this is that we don't have time to sort through all our photos. Sorry about that! But we'll post more as soon as we can. The above photo was from Tuesday's elk chase (that we wrote about yesterday).