Wednesday, November 30, 2011

National Geographic's Crittercam Offers New Perspective

Ever wonder what it would be like to see the world through the eyes of a wolf? We certainly have! At the Wolf Conservation Center, we've especially wondered what our ambassador wolves see and think. While we can only guess at what they're thinking, Kyler Abernathy, one of our friends from National Geographic, stopped by the other day to give us some insight into the way our wolves experience their world.

Kyler Abernathy by Josh Lewis
Kyler is the Director of Research for National Geographic's Remote Imagery, which means he's instrumental in the designing and implementing of National Geographic's Crittercams. Working closely with field biologists and other scientists, Kyler and his teams have placed cameras on all sorts of animals, including sea lions, tiger sharks, and grizzly bears, and brought back a wealth of information.

Crittercam Collar.  Photo: Josh Lewis
The Crittercam program started with aquatic animals and only moved onto land in the past decade. So when Kyler wanted to test out some cameras and collars for potential use with wolves in the wild, we were only too happy to offer the services of our ambassador pack. Visiting the day after Thanksgiving, Kyler was graced by beautiful weather and complete cooperation from Atka, our 9 1/2 year-old Arctic gray wolf, and the 7 month old siblings Alawa and Zephyr.
Bose fitting Atka's collar.  Photo: Josh Lewis
We quickly placed the sturdy but unobtrusive collars holding small cameras around the ambassadors' necks and then let them get back to their regular
business: roaming around their enclosures and taking part in one of our regularly scheduled educational programs.

After a few hours, during which we were lucky to hear some of Kyler's stories about Crittercam projects - despite all the incredible tales about wild animals, my favorite was about owners graphically learning just how good a hunter their housecat was - we retrieved the cameras.
Before leaving, Kyler was nice enough to preview a portion of the amazing footage for us. We gathered around his computer enthralled by Alawa's view of her enclosure as she ran around, interacted with brother Zephyr, came up to the fence for a program, and even visited Atka.
We're excited to have helped out this worthy project and look forward to future collaborations and, of course, more footage! With any luck we'll also be able to bring Kyler back to the WCC to share his incredible stories with our guests during one of our special programs.
So stay tuned, there's always something interesting going on here!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Make Black Friday More Meaningful, Speak Up for the Endagered Species Act

Due to current Congressional threats to one of America's cornerstone environmental laws, the Endangered Species Act (ESA), many species are in peril including the critically endangered lobo. The 2012 Interior budget (HR2584) contains devastating amendments which threaten our country's environmental programs like never before in modern history.  Wolf Conservation Center supporters often ask what they can do to safeguard the future of wolves here in our country and the National WolfWatcher Coalition (NWC) is offering some guidance.

In speaking with several environmental staffers in Washington DC in the last year, the NWC learned that postcards are a noticeable means by which citizens can make their voices heard because they are unique, brief and easily accepted via mail.  Thus, NWC encourages wildlife supporters across the nation to send a unique postcard, along with a brief statement in support of the ESA, from your location to a select number of pro-environmental and moderate (on-the-fence) representatives in Congress.

For some sample talking points and additional resources, please visit United Postcard Campaign page on the NWC's website.

To learn more about the ESA and the threats this law faces, please listen to Defenders of Wildlife's Robert Dewey in an interview from last month.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Temporary Reprieve for Alaska's Kenai Wolves

The Alaska Wildlife Alliance rallied their supporters to speak up for the wolves of Kenai and their comments were heard! Thanks to the overwhelming number of comments submitted to the Alaska Board of Game, the proposals to begin aerial wolf killing on the Kenai Peninsula were postponed until January.
This is one wonderful example of how our actions can affect the world. We each have a voice and the right to use it in order to safeguard our future and the future of generations to come. Well done Alaska Wildlife Alliance! If you would like to learn more about this organization and receive their email alerts so you too can take action on behalf of Alaska's wolves, please visit their website at:

To read more about this small but significant victory, please click here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Online Poll Makes It Easy To Speak Up For Montana Wolves

MT is planning to extend the wolf hunting season by one month since the wolf quota of 220 might not be met by the end of the year. The state is also considering to offer the use of barbaric and indiscriminate traps as tool to reduce the wolf population. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle has offered an online poll re: the this plan so if your hackles are raised, please click on this link and vote "no" to show you oppose this proposal.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Montana looks to Extend It's Wolf Hunting Season

This year's controversial wolf hunt in the state of Montana continues to raise hackles among wildlife advocates with a recent announcement that the state plans to extend the season by one month. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is planning to extend the wolf hunting season until January 31, 2012 if the wolf quota of 220 is not met first. The state is also considering to offer the barbaric use of indiscriminate traps as tool to reduce the wolf population.

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks is seeking comments on this proposal and the National WolfWatcher Coalition is making it easy for you to take action. Please click here to go the the NWC's dedicated page to this issue.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Spotlight on Mexican Gray Wolf F516

F516, a.k.a "Lighty"
Mexican gray wolf F516 ( a.k.a. "Lighty") has never had the chance to be among the lucky lobos who call the wilds of the Southwest home, but her life has been extremely meaningful nonetheless. The fourteen-year-old holds a special place in the Wolf Conservation Center's (WCC) history and the hearts of the staff and volunteers who had a chance to behold her.

M575, a.k.a. "Shep"
F516 and her mate M575 (a.k.a. "Shep") joined the WCC family in 2006 and were the very first pair of lobos to breed at our facility. Although F516 had proven fruitful in the past, the pair were unable to support a litter that year. The Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (MWSSP) Management Group gave the pair one final opportunity to produce pups in 2007 but again they were unsuccessful. Even though their attempt to start a new family failed, F516 will continue to contribute to the species gene pool for years to come. In 2009, F516 was spayed and her ovaries preserved so that any viable eggs (oocytes) could be harvested and used in the future. The procedure was an enormous success and a remarkable 67 viable eggs were extracted! What a woman!
Like all our other Mexican wolves during her tenure, F516 lived off exhibit in a remote area of our facility where WCC guests were unable to visit. We couldn't see her, but she frequently made her presence known. She was the only Mexican gray wolf at the WCC who had a howl we could never fail to recognize.
F516 was transferred to the Oklahoma City Zoo during the fall of 2009 where she was widowed after the passing of M575. Her previous home in South Salem, NY was notably quieter without her. Now the grande dame of the Mexican wolf program calls Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center home in Scottsdale, AZ. The snowbird arrived on Monday and the press was there to celebrate her as they should!

It's funny, even though we don't interact or get to know the wolves within the MWSSP program, you can't help being touched by a few that stand out. No doubt the other lucky facilities that hosted the gal in the past have something special to share about "Lighty," as will Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center before you know it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

WildEarth Guardians Offers a Way To Speak Up For Wyoming Wolves

As we began 2011, wolves of the Northern Rockies were listed as endangered. Just a few months later everything changed for this special population of predators. During the spring, Congress passed a 2011 budget rider (Sec. 1713) that removed Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections from wolves in Idaho, Montana, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and northern Utah. Congress excluded Wyoming from the rider stating that it's wolf management plan wasn't viable.

Although U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) criticized the Wyoming wolf plan in the past, this summer the federal agency announced their plan to accept Wyoming's proposal and now wildlife advocates fear disastrous consequences will follow.

Thankfully, it's not too late for Wyoming's wolves. The Wyoming wolf management plan is out for public comment and WildEarth Guardians is calling all wildlife advocates to speak up on behalf of the wolves that call this state home. Click here to learn how you can share your comments with USFWS.

Thank you WildEarth Guardians!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

When the world says, "Give up," Hope whispers, "Try one more time."

When the world says, "Give up," Hope whispers, "Try one more time." from Diane Bentivegna on Vimeo.

Diane Bentivegna, friend and supporter of the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC), recently released this lovely video as a brief respite from the sad news wildlife advocates hear all too often about wolves here in our country. Diane looks to the wolf not only to ease her soul, but as a middle school teacher she recognizes that this misunderstood predator is charismatic subject and and an ideal topic of interdisciplinary study. Although Diane will be retiring after this school year, her passion for wolves, conservation, and education will continue to impact people and wildlife for years to come as one of the founding Board members of National Wolfwatcher Coalition. Thanks Diane!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Clean Bill Of Health for Some Brawny Wolves

Atka howling for the spotlight
It's always a treat for Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) staff, volunteers, and supporters when the twenty-five wolves that call the WCC home serenade us with their soulful howls. Yesterday, however, the usual sounds that echo throughout the Center were replaced by a collective sigh of relief. Yesterday we completed the last of three "health exam capture days" scheduled this season so our sixteen Mexican gray wolves and six red wolves can return to living peacefully in a natural environment where they can reside without our interference. Congrats to the majority of the wolves we meddled with this season as they will not have to deal with the likes of us for another year!
Almost 90lb Red Wolf M1587 returning to his enclosure
Our dedicated team met early in the morning and by noon we had captured, "processed" (administered vaccinations, took blood, and weights), and released back home six red wolves and two Mexican wolves. Everyone was is perfect health and most were almost chunky! Road kill deer does the body good...

Paul Maus, DVM
Big thanks to our great team of volunteers who came out for the task as well as our generous veterinarian, Paul Maus, DVM from North Westchester Veterinary Office, who donated his time and expertise.

Also big thanks to National WolfWatcher Coalition's Diane Bentivegna who came out to assist. Check out her video of a red wolf capture below.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

¡Adiós Lobo!

F810, one of the sixteen critically endangered Mexican gray wolves that call the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) home as part of a Species Survival Plan under the Endangered Species Act, cannot wait to return to her vast enclosure after her annual health check up earlier this week. WCC staff and volunteers administer annual health exams once a year. With the exception of these events,our lobos live peacefully in a natural environment where these most elusive creatures can reside with minimal human contact to help maintain their timidity and best prepare them for a future in the wilds of Arizona. So far two of the WCC's Mexican wolves have been released into the wild and we hope to give some other lobos the same awesome opportunity soon. There are only about 50 Mexican wolves living in the wild her in our country.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Love Thy Neighbor! Or Else...

M740 evades our crew/ Photo: Josh Lewis
This time of year Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) staff and volunteers are often prying into the private lives of the critically endangered wolves that call the WCC home. It's the season for annual medical exams and late last month we "processed" (administered vaccinations, took blood, and weights) a family of seven Mexican gray wolves without a hitch. It was the first of three "check-up capture days" scheduled this season. A few days ago, we processed two additional packs of Mexican wolves. The first pack is a family of three: brother wolves M804 and M807 and female wolf F749. Next we captured the second pack, a pair of wolves "named" F810 and M740. The captures and exams very smoothly and thankfully all the lobos passed their check up with flying colors! Now that we had completed the exams, it was time for us to meddle with their personal lives.

Every summer the Species Survival Plan (SSP) management group for the Mexican gray wolf determine which wolves should be bred each year by using software developed for the population management of endangered species. Wolves are “mono-estrus” -- breeding only once a year during the winter months, so autumn is the season to make some introductions between our match-made couples.

Mexican wolves M740 and F749 thought they were through with us once we had completed their exams. The wolves don't realize that they are a vital pair with the lowest inbreeding coefficient in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (MWSSP) 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. So after the check ups were completed, we moved F810 to live with her brothers, M804 and M807, and moved F749 to live with her new mate-to-be. 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 will live side by side with a fence-line between them so for a few weeks before we formally introduce them. Only time will tell if they're a match, we're hoping they fall head over paws!

Dr Bayha/ Photo: Josh Lewis
Big thanks to Dr Renee Bayha from the Pound Ridge Veterinary Center for volunteering her time, expertise, and labor this morning and to the lobos that are a part of something much bigger than they realize.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Wolf Conservation Center Needs Your Vote!

Hi Everyone! The WCC has a great chance of receiving $25K through the Chase Community Giving Program! Please take a moment and vote!! Each person gets to vote for 10 different charities and voting ends on November 22nd. Atka and crew THANK YOU!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Big Day in Court for Wolves and the ESA

It's been more than 2 months since the wolf hunts begun in the states of Idaho and Montana and more than 150 wolves have been killed.

As we began 2011, wolves of the Northern Rockies were listed as endangered but Congress passed a 2011 budget rider (Sec. 1713) in the spring that removed Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections from wolves in Idaho, Montana, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and northern Utah. This controversial move was unprecedented as this "delisting" was conducted by politicians and not a process of scientific review that the ESA requires.

Today there is hope. Although prior requests for an emergency injunction to halt the hunts were denied, in a few hours a panel of federal judges will make a decision re: the hunts after wildlife advocates state their case in a Montana courtroom.

A lot rides on today's rule. Montana's wolf hunt quota is 220 and Idaho has no quota at all but intends to maintain 150 out of the 700 that currently call this state home. Our fingers are crossed that we'll have promising news to report following this hearing.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Senator Jack Reed : Endangered Species Act and Wolves

November 4,2011 - National Wolfwatcher Coalition's Dave Hornoff and Endangered Species Coalition's Northeast Coordinator Tara Thornton met up in Rhode Island to meet with Senator J. Reed (D-RI) who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Interior and Environment. They discussed the Endangered Species Act, politics, and wolves and their impact on the environment and economy. Big thanks to both orgs for reaching out to the Senator! To Dave Hornoff's report about the meeting, please click here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Some Good News for Some Wolves In Alaska!

Last week in Homer, Alaska the Homer Fish and Game Advisory Committee recommended that the Board of Game NOT approve two intensive management proposals that include aerial wolf control. Vice Chair Tom Young said he voted against the wolf control proposals because the limiting factor on the moose population is not predation by wolves, but rather the "stressed" habitat they share. reports that most of the members in attendance at last weeks meeting spoke against the wolf control proposals stating that there is a lack of evidence reflecting that wolves are the problem. This is some promising news for one small portion of Alaska's wolf population and we'll take it! To read more about the meeting in, please click here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wolf Conservation Center in the News

AP photo: Seth Wenig
A few weeks ago Jim Fitzgerald and Seth Wenig from the Associated Press paid us a visit in South Salem, NY and the wolves made quite an impact! Click here to read this story that spotlights the WCC's participation in the Species Survival Plan for some of the rarest mammals in North America, the red wolf and the Mexican gray wolf. Enjoy!