Saturday, April 30, 2011

Uncle Mexican Gray Wolf M805?

 Mexican gray wolf M805
¡Feliz cumpleaƱos!  Mexican gray wolves M805 and F810 celebrated their 8th birthday on April 25th. Perhaps F810 will have reason to celebrate some more later this spring - she might become a new mother! She recently plucked the hair from her belly, a custom for expectant mothers when preparing for pups! 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

37 Red Wolf Pups Born in North Carolina!

Red wolf M1483
Pregnancy can be an exciting and magical time for parents but waiting can be excruciating for well-wishers! No pups yet for red wolves F1397 and M1483 but, Kim Wheeler, Executive Director of the Red Wolf Coalition, reports that at least 37 wild red pups have been born so far in northeastern North Carolina! In order for a captive-to-wild fostering event to occur,  wolf pups born at the WCC will require to share the same birthdays as their wild counterparts.  Let's keep our fingers crossed that we will be celebrating captive red wolf pups in addition to wild ones really soon. We'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Let's See It!

Art is timeless but the WCC's Art Contest for kids ends in a few days!  So put the finishing touch on your masterpiece and send us your artwork by April 30, 2011 Midnight PST.  For contest guidelines click here.  So many wonderful pieces of art have been sent to us and we look forward awarding some prizes.  We received the above artwork from 11-yr-old Shana Bernstein from Long Island, NY.  Shana's drawing was sent to us without a title, what name would you give this piece?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Red Wolf F1397 Might be "Showing!"

You make the call. Is that a "baby bump" or did red wolf F1397 indulge in too many peeps?  WCC staff and volunteers saw some very encouraging behavior in early March and we're optimistic that litter number two may be on the way!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day Five of Red Wolf Week: Happy Earth Day!

It's Earth Day!  A day for individuals worldwide to demonstrate their commitment to the environment and appreciation for Mother Nature.  It's also a time of year when nature bestows upon us the most beautiful gifts!  Three years ago today, the WCC celebrated the birth of six magnificent Mexican wolf pups.
Still no pups this season at the WCC, but perhaps red wolves F1397 and M1483 will be welcoming their second litter soon.  In the meantime, try to get outside and enjoy the wonderful pleasures that nature can provide.  Sometimes it takes a little encouragement to get the little ones out of the house...  Even red wolf F1397 had to use a bit of persuasion to convince her two one-month-old sons to emerge from their den last June.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day Four of Red Wolf Week: Photo Caption Challenge!

Red wolf pups m1803 and m1804 at 2 weeks old
Win a prize in the WCC’s RED WOLF WEEK PHOTO CAPTION CHALLENGE! Red wolf pups m1803 and m1804 we'll be turning a year old in just a couple of weeks!   My how the boys have grown... 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, April 20, 2011

Day Three of Red Wolf Week: Conservationists with Wings!

The Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) would be unable to fulfill its mission without its volunteers.  Now that we're two years into our second decade, it is easy to recognize how much our center has thrived.  The WCC started with small ambassador pack and a family of volunteers with an unyielding dedication to wolves and the environment.  Thanks to their efforts, the WCC is currently one of the pre-eminent facilities in the Eastern United States for the captive breeding and pre-release of endangered wolf species and we continue to grow our education program to help people better understand this important but misunderstood predator.

As we enter puppy season optimistic that red wolf pups will soon be born, it is important that we're ready for their arrival and their possible departure!  If any of our red wolves do breed successfully and their pups are selected for release into the wild of North Carolina (see Captive-to-Wild Foster Program), we'll need a way to get the youngsters to their new home.  For this occasion we call upon a very special group of volunteers -- ones with wings!

Lighhawk is a volunteer-based environmental aviation organization that donates flights to conservation groups.  Even though no pups have yet to be born and there is no guarantee that the WCC will welcome any pups at all, one of Lighthawk's volunteer pilots, Janice Newman, has generously set aside her time and put a plane (the Pilatus PC-12 donated for the mission by Tom Haas) on standby for a red wolf pup flight this Spring.

Lighthawk crew with M. Dwire (USFWS) and R. Bose
This won't be the first time that Newman and Haas have swooped in from the sky to offer support to the WCC and the recovery of critically endangered wolves. In December of 2009, this dynamic duo flew Mexican gray wolf F749 to the WCC all the way from New Mexico!  

The WCC cannot thank Lighthawk's generous volunteers enough for all the work they do for wolves and the environment.  Let's hear it for Lighthawk!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day Two of Red Wolf Week: The Captive-to-Wild Foster Program

 1-day-old pup born at the WCC in 2010
The red wolf is one of the most rare mammals in North America.  About 130 red wolves roam their native habitat in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in  northeastern North Carolina and approximately 200 comprise the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (RWSSP) in facilities across the United States.  As a participant of the RWSSP, the WCC is thrilled to be home to six red wolves with two breeding pairs. We are especially excited to be hosting red wolves that were selected to breed because there is a chance that some of their potential pups will be given the opportunity of a lifetime - a future in their ancestral home in the wilds of North Carolina!  The Red Wolf Recovery Plan employs a pup fostering program to introduce captive red wolves into the wild.  Adult captive red wolves are not candidates for release.

Captive-to-wild fostering is a coordinated effort by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Red Wolf Recovery Program, and the RWSSP. Fostering is a method which allows genetically valuable captive-born red wolf pups to become integrated into the wild red wolf population.   The pup-fostering method has been extremely successful for nearly a decade, this video from the North Carolina Zoo depicts the first ever foster event from 2002!


Every spring, red wolf field biologists in North Carolina listen for the whines and peeps of wild red wolf pups as they search for dens. When biologists locate dens, each pup is counted and tagged and blood samples are collected before the pup is carefully returned. Some of these dens will serve as the foster home for captive born red wolf pups.  

As soon as captive red wolves are born at the any of the participating RWSSP facilities, the host organization alerts the field biologists of their great news.  If the captive born litter is robust and the date of births match those of wild red wolves, a couple of  7 to10-day-old pups (number of pups depends on the size of the litter) are removed from the litter  and transferred to North Carolina. Ideally, each year a few captive born pups are blessed with this opportunity and are embraced by their wild foster parents. The pups then develop in the wild and thus gain survival skills required to mature and reproduce.

Red wolf pup from the Lincoln Park Zoo
Last year red wolves from Lincoln Park Zoo received the call of the wild!  In late April of 2010, two newborn red wolf pups were flown from the Lincoln Park Zoo to North Carolina and placed inside the den belonging to wild red wolves who were nursing their own small litter. 

Thanks to our WOLFCAM, we saw some very encouraging breeding behavior between red wolves F1397 and M1483  and we're keeping our fingers crossed that the WCC will also be able to contribute to the wild red wolf population with some pups later this spring! 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day One of Red Wolf Week: It's Pup Season!

Red Wolves M1483 & F1397
Wolf breeding season has come to a close and now it's time to wait and hope that at least one of the WCC's three breeding pairs will celebrate pups later this season.

The WCC is so fortunate to have already welcomed critically endangered pups on two occasions.  On Earth day (of all days) in 2008, six healthy and adorable Mexican gray wolves were born off exhibit.  These pups were the first to ever be born at the WCC!  We welcomed pups a second time last May when red wolves m1803 and m1804 were born in the dense thicket in our red wolf exhibit.  Will the WCC be blessed with red or Mexican gray pups again this year?

All three of the pairs seem well bonded to one another but there is no way to know if successful breeding occurred until pups are born.  That being said, we are feeling hopeful that at least one pair will be yielding pups because we've been spying on them all season long!  With the help of our red wolf webcam (WOLFCAM), both staff and supporters were elated to see some VERY encouraging behavior from the red wolves M1483 and F1397 - the breeding pair that proved fruitful last spring!

Puppy Season has officially begun so we're waiting and watching for some promising signs.  Check out our WOLFCAM and keep an eye out for denning behavior.  It was just over two weeks from today last year that F1397 had her very first litter.  Perhaps litter number two is on it's way!  Over the next few days we'll be discussing this family of wolves and what a new litter of pups could mean for their pack, the WCC, and wild red wolves that call North Carolina home.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Strike a Pose!


There hasn't been a lot of good news for wolves lately so we figured we'd offer a great pick-me-up. Get out of your chair, strike a pose, and get down with red wolves m1803 and m1804! They've been vogue-ing since they were born in May of 2010 so we know you can do it too :)

Music: Madonna, "Vogue"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New Details About the Budget Bill's Wolf Delisting Rider Emerge


The final vote on the budget bill with the attached rider that removes Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections from wolves in Idaho and Montana is expected this Thursday. Congress averted a government shutdown by striking a compromise late last Friday night and in the following days the details about what was included in the deal are still unclear to the public and even some lawmakers. Today, The Wildlife News reports that new language was added to the rider which intends to remove federal protections from Wyoming wolves too. Previous attempts to delist wolves in Wyoming have failed because Interior Department officials claimed that the state's recovery efforts have been inadequate. According to Ken Cole of The Wildlife News, "the new language intends to make it easier for Wyoming’s plan to pass muster or make it so that a plan that is being negotiated will pass muster with the USFWS." To read more about the added language from The Wildlife News, please click here.

Many WCC supporters are asking what they can do to voice their opposition to this rider and the dangerous precedent it sets for wolves and all wildlife. If your hackles are up, call your senator today. You can locate your representative's contact information at http://www.senate.gov/

Monday, April 11, 2011

ABCs, 123s, Earth, Animals and Trees...

This week is National Environmental Education Week! Please visit http://www.eeweek.org/ to join the national network of educators and organizations dedicated to increasing the environmental literacy of K-12 . Environmental education is so important, now more than ever.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Politicians Delist Idaho and Montana Wolves

Friday night's agreed upon Senate appropriations bill did in fact contain a rider delisting the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List. This bill is pending before Congress and won't delist wolves today, but it cannot be challenged tomorrow either. This bill will lift federal protections from wolves of Montana and Idaho, return management of wolves to state biologists, and will allow public hunting of the misunderstood predator in the two states. 

How odd that these wolves of Montana and Idaho were given a powerless reprieve just a day following the above bill's approval.  Yesterday, just a day after the late night dealings on Capitol Hill, Montana District Court Judge Donald Molloy denied a settlement agreement put forth by 10 environmental groups who originally sued the federal government in 2009 to keep wolves of Montana and Idaho protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The settlement that was proposed last month would have removed federal protections from wolves in Idaho and Montana while hopefully safeguarding the wolf populations in other states if approved by Judge Malloy.  The Judge's dismissal of the settlement will have no impact on the rider attached to the Senate appropriations bill leaving some wolves at risk and the morale of wolf advocates at an all time low.  The 10 environmental organizations' proposal to settle left their supporters feeling confused and abandoned. After the settlement was proposed, the 10 organizations fell silent when many of their supporters wanted their pro-wildlife campaigns to be in full throttle to address the handful of introduced bills and riders that many fear threaten the endangered status of wolves and the ESA.

As the political wolf "roller coaster" continues to spin heads, a toxic battle over the management of Oregon's 23 wolves has emerged, Idaho's state legislature approved a emergency bill with a "Wolf Disaster Declaration" included which should ensure that emergency management measures are taken if Idaho's wolf population exceeds 100, and another critically endangered Mexican gray wolf was illegally shot and killed.

What will the future hold for gray wolves here in the U.S.?

If your hackles are up, check out WolfWatcher.com for guidance.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Federal Government Shutdown Averted

Someone stayed up too late last night watching CNN! Last night's late night deal on Capitol Hill will prevent the Federal Government from shutting down for now and so far it appears that the riders that would strip gray wolves of federal protection may have been discarded. To learn more from Howling for Justice, please click here.

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Reunited and it Feels so Good!"

During breeding season the WCC separates the Mexican wolf males from the females to prevent spontaneous breeding from occurring. A few minutes ago we opened the enclosures so pack mates can once again interact with one another. These 3-yr-old siblings had a merry reunion!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Awwww-some Atka

Atka had a great time visiting the enthusiastic students at Shoreline Christian School today! He scent rolled, rearranged a closet, and appeared to curtsy before making his exit. He did look a bit embarrassed, however, when the students responded to his baby photo with a chorus of "Awww..."s.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I am Woman, Hear me Howl!

Red wolf F1291
Long-time Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) resident red wolf F1291 (part of the WCC’s Species Survival Plan population since 2004) was at one time the only red wolf that called the WCC home.  She no longer howls alone, today the WCC is home to 6 red wolves.  F1291 lives off exhibit with her male companion, M1587, and we hope to celebrate pups from the pair later this spring. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Leader of the Yellowstone Wolf Project Talks about Wolves, Weight and their Important Role in the Ecosystem

What?!  Twice my size?
Doug Smith, the leader of the Yellowstone Wolf Project, discusses wolves, their positive impact on nature, and two remarkably large wolves that live in the most remote areas of our country's fist national park.  During this year's research Smith's team discovered the largest wolf currently residing in Yellowstone, 760M.  The male weighs 147 pounds - almost twice the size of Atka and far larger than the average gray wolf residing in the Northern Rocky Mountain States!   Smith also reveals that according to the most recent counts, the Yellowstone wolf population has stabilized following two consecutive years of decline.  Smith believes that with the stabilization of this wolf population, the Park' ecosystem as a whole is becoming more balanced. To read the interview from Examiner.com, please click here.

The fate of the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf population is currently unknown.  This uncertainty is not a product of Mother Nature, it's one of politics.  Wildlife advocates fear that the recent introduction of bills, amendments, riders and settlements pose an enormous threat to wolves and time is running out.  Please read Wolves and Politics: An Update  for an overview of the proposed legislation and what you can do about it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Up, Up and Away on Earth Day!

Atka and Big Mama the Eagle Owl
 We're celebrating Earth Day this month with an exciting bird of prey experience presented by TALONS where guests will meet, fly and catch beautiful feathered ambassadors!  Atka wasn't keen on sharing the spotlight with "Big Mama" when TALONS last visited and the eagle owl seemed to be a bit put off as well...  The two spectacular predators engaged in an epic staring contest, wowing our guests all the while. 
Make sure you bring a camera!  Guests will be given many opportunities to photograph our feathered friends and to be photographed with them too!  Space is limited so click here for more information and to register today!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Lehigh Vally Zoo Opens their New Lobo Exhibit!

 F613 greets one of her sons
 Last summer representatives from facilities that participate in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) gathered in South Salem, NY for the Mexican Wolf annual meeting. The meeting brought 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 was a great success and the participants were elated to welcome a new facility to the group, the Lehigh Valley Zoo!

The Zoo was was a welcome addition to the MWSSP network as there is a need for additional enclosure space to accomplish captive breeding and to house these wolves prior to their reintroduction into the wild.  Without organizations such as the WCC, Lehigh Valley ZOO, and the dozens of other facilities that participate, Mexican gray wolves would not be able to resume their rightful place in the wild.

Bose with pup in 2008
 Today, the Lehigh Valley Zoo is officially opening their new Lobo exhibit to the public!  Zoo patrons will get the opportunity to behold three handsome brothers named M1077, M1078 and M1079.  Today will also be a reunion of sorts.   WCC curator Rebecca Bose will see these three wolves for the first time since they left the WCC last fall.  The three brothers called the WCC home for several years joining our "family" during the fall of 2007.  Less than a year old, they arrived with their two parents (Mom and one of the pups in photo above) and five female littermates and less than a year later they celebrated the birth of six puppy brothers and sisters (photo right). 

We're so  excited for the Lehigh Valley Zoo, the lobo brothers and the Lehigh community! 

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. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Are you foolin? It's April?

THBPBPTHPT!!!

Ha ha! No April flowers today, just snow and freezing rain. Just what Atka ordered!