Saturday, July 30, 2011

Enough with the Paparazzi!

At first it appears that Mexican gray wolf F613 and her six three-year-olds are ready for a closeup but perhaps they've had enough with "big Brother!"  This family is very elusive living of exhibit in Wolf Conservation Center's Endangered Species Facility.  Thus, the best way to capture this pack on video is by letting the camera run without any people around.  The video begins with some intimate footage of the pack's matriarch, F613, then slowly her offspring approach to investigate the one-eyed intruder too.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pack Mates

"For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack." -Rudyard Kipling

Thursday, July 28, 2011

National WolfWatcher Coalition's Dave Hornoff Talks Lobos with Wolf Conservation Center's Maggie Howell

Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Update by Maggie Howell, Wolf Conservation Center from Dave Hornoff on Vimeo.

Last week some members of National WolfWatcher Coalition (NWC) visited the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) just in time to hear about the WCC's Mexican wolf breeding pairs slated for the 2012 breeding season!  The WCC is the only U.S. organization to host 2 lobo breeding pairs this season and we couldn't be more honored. NWC president, Dave Hornoff, asks WCCs Maggie Howell about this big news and also the natural and unnatural challenges that lobos and their recovery program face today.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Wolf Conservation Center to Host 4 Breeding Pairs This Winter

Red Wolf F1291 
Although it's only July, Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) staff and volunteers can't stop thinking about the upcoming 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 2012 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 too. This season is especially thrilling because it marks the first time ever that the WCC we will host four breeding pairs! Last week we announced that we're giving two Mexican gray wolf pairs, F749 & M740 and M805 & F837, the opportunity to procreate and we learned at last week’s Red Wolf SSP meeting that red wolf pairs F1291 & M1394 and F1397 & M1483 will also get a chance to prove fruitful! Last season red wolf F1291 was paired with M1587 and they failed to produce pups. The two wolves appeared well bonded but the romance wasn't there.  F1291 is the fourth most genetically valuable wolf in the red wolf SSP program so we hope that her new companion, M1394, is a good match. All eight 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.

Red wolves F1397 and M1483 getting a chance to add pups to the pack
 The WCC’s exhibit red wolf pair, F1397 & M1483, bred successfully during the 2010 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.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

U.S. District Judge Molloy to Decide the Fate of Wolves... Again

Later today, U.S. District Judge Malloy will once again determine the fate of northern Rocky Mountain wolves as a handful of wildlife advocacy organizations head to his Missoula courtroom to challenge an "anti-wolf rider" attached to the recently passed budget bill on grounds that it is unconstitutional. The controversial rider removed federal protections from wolves of Idaho and Montana, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and northern Utah and controversial wolf hunts are set to begin this fall.

Will Malloy once again return federal protections to this misunderstood predator? Soon we'll know what the future holds for these special wolves and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) - the cornerstone of our Country's environmental law.

Many people from both sides of the argument are expected to attend the hearing and thanks to the folks from National WolfWatcher Coalition, we'll be receiving a direct report from Missoula later today. Stay tuned...

To read more about the lawsuit from NBC, please click here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Mexican Wolf Recovery Effort Takes Another Blow

Mexican gray wolf M904
A year ago, former Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico issued an executive order prohibiting commercial and recreational trapping within the Mexican wolf recovery area in his state. Wildlife advocates applauded the Governor's action as it demonstrated a momentous step for the recovery of the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf. Unfortunately, the Governor's gesture was short lived. Yesterday New Mexico's State Game Commission voted to end Richardson's trapping ban, a move that puts wild lobos at risk of being trapped and snared by the indiscriminate devices.

The Mexican Wolf recovery effort has suffered significant setbacks over the years. During the recovery program's 13 years, numerous lobos have been illegally killed (including 2 females that at one time called the Wolf Conservation Center home) and more recently the largest wildfire in Arizona's history burned through much of the lobo recovery area. With just 50 Mexican wolves currently living in the wild, the future of this critically endangered species needs more advocates like the former Governor taking action. The lobo just can't get a break...

To read more about this latest hurdle posing a threat to Mexican wolf recovery in our country, please click here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The WCC Ambassador Wolf Pups Turn 3 Months Old!

Alawa and Zephyr are 3 months old today! We opted for a birthday bone in lieu of cake :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wolf got your tongue?

Congratulations Kathy Nuccio! You are the winner of the WCC's July Photo Caption Contest! There were so many great entries but your caption, "Wolf got your tongue?" wins the cake! We'll be contacting you soon so we can send you your prize.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The WCC's Public Service Announcement!

Thanks to David Beebe and other dedicated WCC supporters, we have a new Public Service Announcement (PSA)! Let us know what you think and if you have media connections to help us get some air time, please let us know. Enjoy :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mammal Math

2 pups + 1 bone = really cute trouble.

Wolf Conservation Center to Host Two Mexican Wolf Breeding Pairs in 2012!

F837 & M805: Love birds?
Although the Mexican Wolf Annual Meeting in Mexico City is coming to a close, the Wolf Conservation Center's (WCC) curator, Rebecca Bose, couldn't wait until her return home to share some excellent news! One of the chief items on the meeting’s agenda is the determination of wolf breeding pairs for the 2012 season. 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. This winter there will be a total of five breeding pairs hosted in the U.S. and the WCC is incredibly honored to be the only facility to house two of the chosen couples!
Mexican wolf M740

Mexican wolves M740 and F749 are a vital pair with the lowest inbreeding coefficient in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (MWSSP) program. With outstanding stats such as theirs, we're all really excited about their potential contribution to the program! M740 is nine years old and has called the WCC home since his transfer from the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, IL in October of 2009. He was paired with Mexican wolf F810 for the past two years but the couple failed to produce pups. F749 is the same age and joined the WCC family in December of 2009 after living at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Wolf Management Facility in New Mexico. The pair has yet to be formally introduced so we're keep our fingers crossed that they're a match.

Mexican wolf M805
The occupants of the WCC's Lobo Exhibit, F837 and M805, will also be given a chance to start a family which will not only benefit the Mexican wolf program, but could also enhance the WCC visitor experience allowing our guests to witness a wolf romance develop and possibly some pups first hand! The two eight-year-olds were first introduced to one another last fall and they've been buddies ever since.

All four of these special lobos are genetically valuable individuals and they have been given this 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. This winter will mark the first opportunity for both of these lucky pairs to breed. I can't believe I'm saying this but with news like this, winter can't come fast enough!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wolf Pup Feeding Frenzy!

Although Alawa and Zephyr are as cute as can be, staff and volunteers are often reminded that these pups are not pets.  Watch and see you even pups can "wolf down" their food...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What a Mouthful!

Win a prize in the WCC's July Photo Caption Contest!  The WCC's Ambassador wolf pup nanny, Kai the German Shepherd, shares an intimate moment with Alawa the wolf.  This photo needs a caption and it's up to you to come up with a good one!  Please post your caption in the comments section below. A winning caption will be selected next week and we’re accepting submissions until Sunday at midnight PST. The photo will be posted next week with caption and credit to the winner! Note: The winning caption will be selected from the WCC’s Facebook page and the WCC Blog. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The 2011 Mexican Wolf Annual Meeting Begins!

Rebecca Bose with Mexican wolf pup born at the WCC in 2007
Representatives from dozens of facilities participating in the Species Survival Plan (MWSSP) are heading to Mexico City today for the MWSSP Annual Meeting to tackle the all issues associated with conserving the lobo. This meeting is bringing together Fish and Wildlife Agencies from both US and Mexico, many zoo representatives, endangered species reproductive specialists, and WCC curator Rebecca Bose. The bulk of the meeting will begin tomorrow morning but Rebecca, as a member of the Mexican Wolf Management Group, will get right down to business later this evening to discuss the major issues about the 300 captive Mexican gray wolves that call the U.S. and Mexico home. The SSP management position is not entirely new to Rebecca, she has been serving on the Red Wolf Management Group since 2009 and this will be her second year as a member of the Mexican Wolf Management Group. We look forward to hearing Rebecca's reports from the meeting so we can update you on all aspects of the program including how to best recover a sustainable population in the wild.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rub-A-Dub-Dub Two Wolves in a Tub!

Wolf Conservation Center staff and volunteers had a blast introducing a pup pool to 11-week-old wolf pups Alawa and Zephyr last week.  They both circled the pool several times before Zephyr made the pioneer plunge.  Alawa followed her brother shortly thereafter and then the water play was on!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day Three in Yellowstone - Becoming a "Track Star!"

Here's the latest WCC Yellowstone report from Diane Bentivegna of National WolfWatcher Coalition. I think she's hooked!

Day Three in Yellowstone by Diane Bentivegna

Why did the coyote cross the road?
Yellowstone! The name conjures up fascinating visions of bubbling hot springs and thundering geysers, towering waterfalls and crystal clear lakes. If these thermal features were the only major attraction in the Park, they would be more than enough to secure Yellowstone’s reputation as one of the world’s greatest preserves. But there is another dimension to the wonders of Yellowstone; its vast expanses are home to an incredible array of North American wildlife.
Throughout this incredible journey, WCC adventurers continued to observe herds of herbivores like bison and elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, mountain goat and mule deer found from sagebrush deserts to high alpine meadows. We also were impressed by an equally amazing collection of carnivores like gray wolves, coyotes, brown bears and black bears. As a matter of fact, our third day included several sightings of black bears with their young cubs and a young grizzly who fed on a carcass surrounded by a pack of five coyotes which waited patiently to eat its leftovers.
We also observed some “winged wonders” like osprey, peregrine falcons, golden eagles, ravens, western tanagers, northern flickers, swallows, white pelicans, black-billed magpies and the beautiful Mountain Bluebirds which were all welcomed signs that winter finally lost its grip on Yellowstone’s northern range.
Equally as exciting, the group took a two mile hike to observe one of the first wolf dens used by the infamous Female 09 in the “Little America” section of the park during the early days of wolf reintroduction in the 1990’s. During this experience, we were accompanied by Dr. Jim Halfpenny, wildlife biologist and expert in wolf tracking and Dr. Nathan Varley, wildlife and wolf biologist, who gave interesting talks about all aspects of wolf pack life - then and now. During our stay in “Little America,” we also observed a vast array of bones, antlers and other natural specimens which told a fascinating historical account of the life and legacy of the wildlife which called this part of the park their distinct territory.
To conclude our day in the field, the WCC educational team, along with McNeil McGregor, a former educational specialist for the US National Park Service and currently working with Dr. Nathan Varley’s Wild Side Tours, escorted us to the Mammoth Hot Springs – one of the park’s most dynamic hydro-thermal areas. At Mammoth, a network of fractures in the landscape form a “plumbing system” that allows hot water from underground to reach the surface. The water comes from rain and snow falling on the surrounding mountains and seeping deep into the earth where it is heated. Microorganisms create tapestries of rich color where hot water flows among terraces of yellow, orange, brown and green hues. These images were “living sculptures” – constantly changing!
Tomorrow morning, we rendezvous in the Lamar Valley to marvel at the myriad of Yellowstone wildlife before concluding our adventure – albeit reluctantly. We hope, of course, to observe our wolves one last time – for it is the wolf, an iconic symbol of the wilderness, that keeps us hopeful that Yellowstone and all wild lands will continue to benefit from the unique role it plays in balancing ecosystems where they roam freely. As wolfwatchers, we will recall our fond memories of the Lamar Canyon pack with an awe-inspiring wonder and excitement until we see them again…hopefully soon.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day Two in Yellowstone, Dances in Lamar

Here's our second riveting Yellowstone report from Diane Bentivegna of National WolfWatcher Coalition. Want to dance?

Day Two in Yellowstone by Diane Bentivegna

With its resident wolf packs, Lamar Valley has become a mecca for wolfwatchers to Yellowstone. True to this expectation, Day Two of the WCC Expedition to this national park proved to be yet another exciting adventure. Our early morning trek to the southeast quadrant of the Lamar Canyon began with a sighting of Lamar Canyon pack’s M754, two cinnamon-colored, young grizzlies, several ravens and a coyote, all of whom arrived on the scene to stake out their claim to a bison carcass. With a tenuous peaceful coexistence being played out before us, the grizzlies won the prize and were the first to feast on a good portion of the bison. Their huge bodies coveted the remains while they gorged one at a time. Although M754 bravely tried to move in on the action more than once, he was warned by the largest of the grizzlies to back off. M754 patiently waited nearby until his time had come. Finally, when the grizzlies moved on, M754 quickly dashed upon the remains and feasted. As wolfwatchers, we were awed as we witnessed this delicate yet orderly dance that took place in wild Yellowstone.

Thereafter, we traveled throughout the park and marveled at more of its many natural wonders! In addition to other spectacular wildlife viewing – wolves, bull elk, bison, deer, mountain goats, osprey, perigrine falcons, and the list goes on and on, we visited the Canyon Visitors Education Center which features spectacular exhibits to prepare us for our visit to Yellowstone’s “supervolcano” or the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Plunging 1000 feet, hot water acting on volcanic rock created the canyon’s myriad of colors, thunderous waterfalls and exquisite scenery around every roadside bend. We visited the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, Tower Falls, Calcite Springs and several other scenic overlooks that made us all marvel at these wonders up close and personal.
And, if that was not enough, after a scrumptious dinner among new friends, wildlife and wolf biologist, Dan Stahler, associated with the Yellowstone Wolf Project, gave a riveting audio-visual presentation about the biology of the Yellowstone wolves and its implications for the future of all wolves as they face some challenging times ahead.
Sharing these experiences with fellow wolfwatchers and witnessing the splendor of Yellowstone’s wild lands and wildlife with those who share an appreciation for these natural treasures continues to be one of the most rewarding, enjoyable and inspiring experiences I have ever had. I look forward to the marvels of yet another day in the park tomorrow!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day One in Yellowstone, A WolfWatcher Sees Her first Wild Wolf!

Late last night we received our first Yellowstone report from Diane Bentivegna of National WolfWatcher Coalition. It appears the Wolf Conservation Center's Summer Yellowstone Adventure is off to an awesome start! Big thanks to Diane for sharing her experience and WCC's Spencer Wilhelm for the photos.

Day One in Yellowstone by Diane Bentivegna

Renowned throughout the world for its natural wonders, inspiring scenery and mysterious wild nature, America’s first national park certainly lived up to its extraordinary reputation today. From the unique geological features of the park to the breathtaking mountain environs, visiting Yellowstone became a dream realized for 17 eager nature-enthusiasts who joined the WCC’s educational team on a wildlife expedition that will long be remembered as both unique and personally enriching on so many different levels.
Towering 50 feet over us as we arrived through the North Entrance, the Roosevelt Arch, Yellowstone’s first major gateway, welcomed us via the town of Gardiner, a vibrant and hospitable western town. With so many different animal species populating Yellowstone, we knew it was impossible to conclude this trip without sighting a myriad of the park’s wild inhabitants. And, just as anticipated, an amazing display of free roaming wildlife quickly materialized, captivating our excitement and utter joy!
Black Beta Male 754M of the Lamar Canyon Pack
Personally, a dream was realized on the very first day of my very first visit to this extraordinary natural wonderland! Female 06 of the Lamar Canyon Pack was my first wild wolf sighting….ever! Her amazing reputation for being the pack’s rock star/female alpha intrigued me from the earliest stories I have heard about her – her amazing devotion to her pack, her stunning hunting prowess and her inspiring spirit of wild independence awed me. To see her emerge among the vast brush of Slough Creek, carrying meat from a recent kill to feed her newest arrivals back at the den, was the whole purpose for my participation with the WCC expedition this year. When I saw that she was joined by her yearlings, as well, this vision made my 2000 mile trek to America’s West go well beyond my expectations! I feel honored that 06 and the rest of the Lamar Canyon pack welcomed me to their wild home and allowed me to share these extraordinary images …memories that I shall remember for the rest of my life!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Déjà Vu?

Ambassador wolf Kaila as a pup in 1995 - Ambassador wolf Zephyr in 2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The WCC Yellowstone Adventure Begins!

Early this morning members of the Wolf Conservation Center's education team howled goodbye to Ambassador wolves Atka, Zephyr, and Alawa before beginning their trek to Yellowstone National Park for a week of wildlife watching! The crew of adventure seeking WCC friends and supporters will meet up with Yellowstone Wolf Tracker's Nathan Varley and Linda Thurston this afternoon and by dawn tomorrow they'll have scopes in hand to behold the WCC Ambassadors' wild brothers and sisters.

Diane Bentivegna and her 8th grade students in 2010
Among the group of adventurers on this year's expedition is Diane Bentivegna.  As a middle school teacher, Diane was an inspiration to her students introducing them to local and national conservation projects and bringing Atka to Long Island's Woodmere Middle School on several occasions. Today, Diane is one of the driving forces behind National Wolfwatcher Coalition, working on behalf of wolves full-time although she has yet see a wolf in the wild!  Perhaps tomorrow will be the day that Diane sees her first wild wolf, stay tuned to find out.   Diane will be sending updates from the field all week long.   Safe travels!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Yellowstone's Ambassadors Make the Trip

Next week members of the Wolf Conservation Center's education team will be heading to Yellowstone National Park with some friends to meet up with the folks from Yellowstone Wolf Tracker for a week of wildlife watching. Last year's summer adventure exceeded everyone’s expectations, even those who have frequented the park in years past! We spotted so many critters it will be tough for the crew to match last year's robust catalog. To view our list, please click "More" More...
Mule Deer
Bighorn Sheep
Mountain Goat
River Otter
Black Bear
Grizzly Bear
Yellow Bellied Marmot
Ground Squirrel
Least Chipmunk
Red Squirrel
Cutthroat Trout
Snake (unidentified)
Great Blue Heron
Bald Eagle
Sandhill Crane
Mountain Bluebird
Swansons Hawk
Ruddy Duck
Goldeneye Duck
Cliff Swallows
Chimney Swifts
Lesser Scaup
American Dipper/Ouzel
Canada Goose
Trumpeter Swan
Red Winged Blackbird
Brown Headed Cowbird

Yellowstone Wolf Tracker's Nathan and Linda are phenomenal guides and with their help this year's adventurer's will be blown away. Nathan and Linda are among a special group of Yellowstone "Ambassadors," wonderful folks who can't help but enhance the thrill one feels when beholding the country’s oldest national park. Rick McIntyre of the National Parks Service,Yellowstone’s own "wolf man", is another legendary figure in the park. Since the reintroduction of wolves in the mid 1990s, McIntyre has yet to miss a day of wolf watching. His dedication keeps him busy but he always makes himself available to educate visitors about the park he calls home. Check out this great video of McIntyre giving the students of Bozeman, MT's Sacajawea Middle School a history lesson about Yellowstone Wolves. Big thanks to Dave Hornoff of for sharing this clip! Enjoy :)

Yellowstone Wolf History with Rick McIntyre from Dave Hornoff on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Jean Craighead George!

Soul mates: Jean and Atka

It is with great pleasure that we honor Westchester’s own Jean Craighead George today on her birthday. The Newbery Medal-winning author and environmentalist is an inspiration for children and adults all of the world. Her timeless works include:
  • Julie of the Wolves
  • My Side of the Mountain
  • The Wolves are Back
and over a hundred others!  Jean is a cherished member of the WCC "pack," her commitment to children and the wild stirs passion within everyone she encounters.  Every time Atka gets to see his dear friend, he's unable to resist singing just for her.  Today, we all sing for our hero: Happy Birthday Jean!