Monday, January 30, 2012

Aerial Gunning Campaign Puts Idaho Wolves in Peril

On Sept of 2007 the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) made a trip with Atka to our nation’s capitol. Defenders of Wildlife invited the WCC to join Representative George Miller (CA) as he introduced PAW -- “Protect America’s Wildlife” -- a bill designed to put an end to aerial wolf control programs here in the U.S.

Aerial Hunting is against the law. In 1972 Congress passed the Airborne Hunting Act (AHA) to prohibit hunting or harassing animals from aircraft. Although illegal, a controversial branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture known as “Wildlife Services" leads airborne predator control programs and killing over a million wild animals every year. According to Idaho Wildlife Fish and Game, soon Idaho wolves could join this growing list.

Wildlife Services (paws indicate # of wolves killed)
Several Wildlife Organizations are asking their supporters to speak up for Idaho wolves. Wildlife Services by  is beginning its aerial gunning campaign to kill dozens of wolves in the Lolo area near the Clearwater National Forest in Idaho. National WolfWatcher Coalition (NWC) reports the stated reason for the wolf-killing plan is to artificially boost the elk population. Wolves are blamed for the dropping elk numbers in that area even though elk numbers began decreasing in the area long before wolves made their way there. If your hackles are raised, please visit NWC's web page dedicated to help supporters speak up on behalf of these wolves by clicking here.  The link also provides contact information for members of the US Senate and House who originally cosponsored the PAW.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Look Who's Coming For Dinner

Red wolves F1397 and M1483 have some dinner guests who might just become the main course if they're not careful. Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) WOLFCAM watchers are not only getting a chance to observe two critically endangered wolves in real time, but also some hungry scavengers. All morning, a committee of black vultures have been dining on the wolves' road-killed deer carcass with the wolves watching close by. We don't feed any of our wolves live prey, but every once in a while a critter makes a poor career move by visiting any of the 25 wolves that call the WCC home. This red wolf pair have successfully hunted black vultures, crows, skunks and other small prey items. The vultures have an advantage today. Due to the unseasonably mild weather and the wolves' already full bellies, the birds will ikely enjoy their free meal without any dire consequences. Watch our WOLFCAM now and let us know if you see anything interesting :

Friday, January 27, 2012

Anchorwolf Atka?

Yesterday, Atka and crew appeared on ABC Channel 8's "CT Style" to talk about wolves and the Atka's great work as the Wolf Conservation Center's Rock star Ambassador. The studio was perfect. The spacious loft was the perfect playground for a curious wolf like Atka. For about 30 minutes prior to the interview, he wandered from set to set testing each and every prop in his reach. He especially enjoyed tinkering around within the in-studio kitchen set. He managed to fit his whole head into a Kitchen Aid mixing bowl and triumphantly exited the set with an open can of Progresso soup! He appeared very pleased with his prize. Check out the video of his appearance and if you're in the CT area tomorrow, you can meet the big guy himself at the Children's Museum in West Hartford.

Wolf Conservation Center:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Preparing for "The Grey"

Wolves, their recovery, and the status of the keystone predator are often hot topics on Capitol Hill and media outlets in the West. But in the past week, wolves have also been the talk of the town in Hollywood! "The Grey," a film starring Liam Neeson has hackles raised among wildlife advocates in fear that the film's chilling portrayal of wolves can further muddy the already terrible and undeserved reputation that this species is burdened with.  The film, opening on January 27th, is an intense adventure thriller about a group of oil rig workers who must fight wolves for their lives in the Alaskan wilderness after their airplane crashes.  

In reality, wild wolves are shy and elusive. A person in wolf country has a greater chance of being hit by lightning, dying of a bee sting or being killed in a vehicle collision with a deer than being injured by a wolf. 

WCC's Lewis on NPR (Photo: Chion Wolf)
This being said, wolves still continue to evoke high emotions among the masses and this film could possibly ignite additional fear.  A few environmental organizations, including the Wolf Conservation Center, have chosen to recognize the film's momentum as a great platform for education - to diffuse the damaging myths that surround this misunderstood predator.  

WCC's Darling on NPR (Photo: Chion Wolf)
In the past week, we've really enjoyed discussing wolves with the great folks from NPR's Colin McEnroe Show (listen here), the New York Post, and Sirius Satellite Radio.

If you plan on seeing the film or know someone who intends to do so, the great folks from The National WolfWatcher Coalition created an informative brochure with real facts about wolves.  Please feel free to distribute them within your community!

Click on the links to download the brochure's front side and back side.

Several great organizations are asking supporters to boycott "The Grey." To learn more about how you can join this petition, please visit WildEarth Guardians call to action page here.

In the meantime, we can only hope that Hollywood's wolves don't contribute to the many unnatural challenges that wild wolves already face.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Voyeurism 101

It's an exciting time for wolves and the WCC -- it's the season of romance! Hormones are racing and hopefully several courtships have already begun. We're keeping our eye on four breeding pairs (see The Wolf Conservation Center to Host 4 Breeding Pairs This Winter) in hope that we'll see some promising behavior. Thankfully, we need not rely entirely on eyewitness accounts, our WOLFCAM may help staff, volunteers, and supporters watch some romance between red wolves F1397 and M1483 in real time! These two lovebirds proved fruitful in 2010 and we're hoping that they are up for round two this season.
In the past week, several dedicated voyeurs contacted us after witnessing some romantic gestures (mounting) between the pair.  While many of us like to include flowers, candy, perhaps a little vino and Barry White in our romantic rituals, wolves have a different set of behaviors that we should watch for:

  • one wolf marking over the other's mark
  • nuzzling
  • following one another
  • parallel walking
  • "prancing"
  • wrestling
  • mounting
  • rear sniffing
  • resting one's chin upon another
  • tandem urination conveys the same message as a wedding ring!
  • wolves in a copulatory "tie" or stuck together --  please contact ASAP!

If you see any of the above behaviors or something else you find interesting, please share what you've witnejavascript:void(0)ssed on this blog or on the WCCs Facebook Page.  And don't fret, it's okay to watch!

    Sunday, January 22, 2012

    Wolf Haven International Can Use a Helping Paw

    While it's been a great snowy weekend for the 25 wolves that call the Wolf Conservation Center home, the stormy weather did a real number on Wolf Haven International.
    Photo: Wolf Haven International
    The Tenino, WA wolf sanctuary will be closed until March to deal with devastating storm damage and they can use all the help they can get. To read more about the storm damage and how you can lend them a paw, please click here.

    Saturday, January 21, 2012

    The Lovebirds are Feeling Frisky!

    The Wolf Conservation Center's exhibit red wolves M1483 and F1397 are having a frisky snow day! Wintertime is an exciting time for wolves and the WCC. January marks the beginning of breeding season and these proven breeders are getting another opportunity to prove fruitful this season too. Check them out on our WOLFCAM and please let us know if you see the lovebirds doing anything interesting.


    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    National Park Service Opposes Predator Control Measures in Alaska!

    Back in November, the Alaska Wildlife Alliance rallied their supporters to speak up for the Alaskan wolves of Kenai and 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 2012.
    The temporary reprieve for Kenai's wolves ended last week when Alaska’s Board of Game approved the "intensive management” of wolves on 19 million acres of wildlife refuges in Alaska. Hackles were raised among the masses who originally spoke up on behalf of Alaska's wolves back in November and also with the National Park Service! Just days after Alaska's State government voted to push forward wolf control programs, Federal Government pushed back. Alaska Dispatch reports "Most of the land the wolves roam is within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and officials there reiterated Tuesday that they are not going to play along with the state." This showdown between the state and federal government will likely continue but in the meantime, wolves are coming out on top!

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

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Atka, have you been moonlighting?

    Defenders and Wildlife recently shared a clip from the 2003 film "The Hunted" to demonstrate the agony snare wire can cause to wild animals. The wolf in the film has a strong resemblance to Wolf Conservation Center Ambassador wolf Atka so this clip really hits home with those who have been lucky enough to behold the WCC's arctic beauty. Snare wire and trapping are barbaric and indiscriminate hunting tools that are currently permitted in Idaho and soon in Montana too if current proposals are passed. Many organizations and individuals are outraged that some states permit the use of such tools on public lands. If your hackles are up to, The Wolf Army offers you a resource to speak up here.

    Saturday, January 14, 2012

    National Geographic's Crittercam Gives Us Atka's Point Of View

    Crittercam Collars (Photo: Josh Lewis)
    In November of 2011, National Geographic's Kyler Abernathy visited the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) to test out some crittercam cameras and collars on some of our wolves for potential use on wild wolves.  Ambassador wolves Atka and Alawa sported the gear for a few hours and seemed to feel quite comfortable in them.  The wolves carried on like it was any other day and now we have the footage to better experience the world from their perspective!  Little did we know that Alawa would be so natural behind the camera.  The footage of her companion and litter-mate Zephyr is spectacular!

    The Crittercam program  has provided valuable data about the private lives of sea lions, tree kangaroos, tiger sharks, and more.  Next month, Atka and the WCC team will be traveling to National Geographic's headquarters in Washington DC to some more camera work and hopefully we'll be able to see through the eyes of his wild brothers and sisters soon!

    Arizona Game and Fish Commission Considers Releasing More Lobos

    F837's litter-mates were released into the wild in 2006 and 2008
    The Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted yesterday to amend its previous policy that opposed any new releases of captive Mexican wolves into eastern Arizona. By changing their policy, the Commission will consider releasing wolves on a case by case basis to compensate for any loss in the wild lobo population.

    This move could represent a significant step in the effort to grow the wild Mexican wolf population, which numbered close to 50 at the end of 2011.

    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, January 13, 2012

    The Debate Surrounding MT's Controversial Wolf Hunt Continues

    The debate surrounding the plan to extend MT's wolf hunt into April got picked up by MT's NBC station. Kudos to National WolfWatcher Coalition's Marc Cooke for giving wolves a voice!

    To Watch the video, please click here.

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Lack of Snow Has Yellowstone Wolf Pack On The Move

    When wolves were first reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park 17 years ago today, the landscape was a whole lot snowier! Visitors to the Park are having a hard time believing that it's January. It's been a strange dry winter and the visitors aren't the only ones who are noticing. Scientists believe the lack of snowfall has the Park's largest pack, the "Mollies," on the move in search for easier prey. Bison, the hardest prey for wolves to kill, is the usual fare for the Mollies and the pack has previously depended on deep snow to give themselves an advantage over their prey which average 1,000- to 2,000 pounds. The pack migrated over 20 miles to the Lamar Valley and have have lingered there for close to three weeks. The packs that usually call the valley home are likely eager for this formidable pack to make tracks. To read more about the Mollies' migration from the Missoulian, please click here.

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    On This Day Over A Century Ago, The "Father of Wildlife Management" Was Born

    Mexican gray wolf M805
    "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

    Aldo Leopold was born on this day in 1887.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Plan to Extend Montana's Wolf Hunt Raises Hackles

    Ambassador Wolf Zephyr (born April 4, 2011) at 8 weeks old
    The wolf hunts in Montana have been controversial from the start. A hunt would not have been possible until Congress passed a 2011 budget rider (Sec. 1713) last spring that removed Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections from wolves in that state. No longer endangered, the state's wolf hunt was scheduled to start in August and end by December 31st unless the quota of 220 wolves was met first.
    In early December, it became clear that the quota would likely not be filled and so the talks of an extension began. The hunts have already been extended past the original end date to February 15th (well into breeding season) and now MT Fish, Wildlife, Parks (MTFWP) announced a plan to extend the wolf-hunting season into at least April in one part of the state. Many Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) supporters are up in arms as this proposal would greatly impact breeding season, pregnant wolves, pups and the stability of the future Montana wolf population. If you too oppose this plan, there are resources to help you take action. National WolfWatcher Coalition created an "Emergency Montana Wolf Action Alert” on their website. MTFWP scheduled a meeting for January 19, 2012 to address the 2012 Wolf Management Harvest so you have a week to speak up for Montana's wolves.

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Kids Speaking Up for the Endangered Species Act!

    Woodmere Middle School's Class 7A Supports the Endangered Species Act! from Diane Bentivegna on Vimeo.

    They did it again! The great kids from Long Island’s Woodmere Middle School just completed a fantastic short film as a part of science unit, this time focusing on the importance of the Endangered Species Act and the amazing species that this important environmental law safeguards. Please enjoy and share this compelling piece with your family and students. Team members Alberto, Ben, Eddie, Eros, Fernando, George, Gianna, Jessica, Jonathan, and Marsello exemplify the amazing potential of their generation to make this world a better place. If you’re interested in leading a project like Diane Bentivegna’s 7A team, please feel free to contact Maggie at

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Many Concerned About Wyoming's Proposed Wolf Plan

    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.

    Last Spring Congress passed a 2011 budget rider (Sec. 1713) that removed Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections from wolves of the Northern Rockies. Wolves in Idaho, Montana, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and northern Utah were removed from the endangered species list and put under state control. Congress excluded Wyoming from this rule so wolves of this state are still federally protected, but likely not for long.

    Although U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) criticized Wyoming's wolf plan on the grounds that unregulated shooting in most of the state would reduce the state’s wolf population below federally required levels, this summer Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar reached an agreement to strip ESA protections from Wyoming’s roughly 340 wolves.

    Wyoming lawmakers have voted unanimously to recommend approval of Wyoming's plan even though a scientific review of the wolf plan has some experts concerned.

    Wyoming's proposed wolf management plan calls for the state to:
    • Deem wolves predators in 90% of the state (all but the northwest corner of Wyoming), where they could be killed by any means, at any time, without a license.
      • In Wyoming's northwest corner, right outside Yellowstone National Park, classify wolves as trophy game animals meaning they could only be hunted with a license. 
        • Maintain only 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside of Yellowstone National Park

        Many of our supporters have reached out to us asking how they can take action on behalf of Wyoming's wolves.  If your hackles are up too because of Wyoming's wolf management plan, now is your chance to comment.  USFWS is soliciting public comment but they must be submitted by mail or online by January 13, 2012.  In order for a comment to have the greatest impact, one should respectfully express their concerns in their own words.

        Here is a link to USFWS' comment site.  If you need help, here is a page on the National WolfWatcher Coalition website that is dedicated to this cause.

        New York City, Here We Come!

        Time to wake up sleepy-head :)

        Thursday, January 5, 2012

        An Exciting Holiday Treat For An Ely, Minn Resident!

        On Christmas Day, a lucky lady from Ely, Minnesota bumped into some unexpected guests while on a ride. Thankfully, she had her video camera running so now it's our lucky day too! Notice the behavior of the small pack. While curious, they stay a safe distance away from the rider and her horse.

        Wednesday, January 4, 2012

        The Southwest Environmental Center Wants Captive Lobos Released into New Mexico

        This is Mexican Gray wolf F837. Her sisters, F838 and F836, were released into their ancestral home in the wilds of Arizona. The Southwest Environmental Center's online petition urges U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and New Mexico Senators Udall and Bingaman to release other captive lobos into their rightful place in the wild, but directly into New Mexico. The Center is just a couple hundred short of its goal of one thousand signatures. Petition link: THANK YOU!

        Tuesday, January 3, 2012

        Mapping the Lobo's Range

        Lobos of the Southwest offers a GREAT interactive map that reflects the historical range of the lobo. You can check it out at or here.

        Monday, January 2, 2012

        William Ripple Explains Why Predators are Important

        Although wolves aren't often the hottest topic of conversation in the Greater New York Area, an increasing number of articles about wolves and their recovery have been printed in the New New York Times this past year. Today, the paper shared the AP story about the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park and the impact their return has had on the landscape. "Study: Yellowstone Wolves Help Trees Rebound," shares key points from the ongoing research by Oregon State University's William Ripple. To learn more about the important role predators play in an ecosystem, Ripple explains it clearly in this 2 minute video.