Friday, April 27, 2012

The WCC Is Planning For Pups!

For over a week now many Wolf Conservation Center supporters have been spying on our four breeding pairs via our new WildEarth.TV webcams. We've watched a red wolf family frolic in the spring breeze, heard several howling sessions, and have seen several bellies swell to remarkable sizes! All four females are displaying maternal behavior so now we're all just watching and waiting.

Mexican wolf F749
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 2 years ago this 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? If so, what happens next?

In the case that any of or Mexican wolves or red wolves have pups, we'll do initial health checks on the newborns and then allow the parents to do their job. There is a chance, however, that some of the pups will receive the "call of the wild!"

The Red Wolf Recovery Plan employs a pup fostering program to introduce captive red wolves into the wild. Captive-to-wild fostering is a coordinated effort by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Red Wolf Recovery Program, and the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (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 thus gain survival skills required to mature and reproduce.
Thanks to our Webcams, we saw some very encouraging breeding behavior and now denning behavior too. So we might very well find out soon whether or not the WCC will be able to contribute to the wild red wolf population with some pups later this spring!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy Birthday Alawa and Zephyr!

Join us on Wednesday April 25th, from 6 - 9 p.m. for a Very Special Wolf Pup Wednesday. We’re Celebrating Zephyr and Alawa’s FIRST BIRTHDAY!

Local “Celebrity Bartenders” will be pouring drinks to benefit the WCC at Le Chateau Restaurant: Long-time friends of the WCC – Country Farmer’s Laura Hollister, Sally de Vengoechea of ASAP, and Stacy Geisinger of Stacy Knows -- will be donating all tips to the WCC and Le Chateau will be donating one-third of all drink proceeds. We’ll also hold a raffle with wonderful WCC items and more! So join us for an after-work toast or a bite to eat, and bring your friends and family to celebrate!
April 25th, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Le Chateau
Route 35 (near route 123)
South Salem, NY

This is a FREE event and requires no registration, but feel free to sponsor an item on Zephyr and Alawa's birthday wish list.

We hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bare Bellies Abound!

Our two potential Mexican Wolf Mamas are showing signs that pups could be on the way! Both have pulled much of their belly hair out and F749's nipples are swollen. Please help us keep an eye on them via our WildEarth.TV Webcams.

If you see anything interesting, please let us know!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Prepping for Pups? Webcams Will Let Us Watch!

Their new nursery?
In late February when breeding season was in full tilt, things began to really heat up between Mexican wolves M805 and F837. The two lovebirds had never been given the opportunity to breed before so we were thrilled to see their relationship take a romantic turn. Today we are happy to share that the pair continue to give promising indications that pups are on the way! Although we rarely see the pair in the man-made den within the top half of their enclosure, all indications suggest that it's seen a lot of activity.

View from Dencam
We're finding that the wolves are rearranging the earth in and around the den on a daily basis, hopefully doing last minute home improvements before the birth of their first litter. Thankfully we'll need not rely on the clues they leave behind to best surmise their behavior, starting early next week people from around the world will be able to spy on them in real time via our new dencam! The camera is one of the eight webcams we're launching. So stay tuned. You could be the first one to witness the birth of their first pups.
M805 and F837 (Taken by Webcam outside of Den)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gas Could Be More Costly Than You Think

CRY WOLF: An Unethical Oil Story offers a glimpse into the world of scientists, journalists and internationally renowned wildlife and conservation experts who are all working to understand the implications Canada’s Tar Sands have on our politics, environment and, importantly, our future.

Learn more:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

University Students Capstone Project Unfolds Beautifully on Film

Back in February, Atka and crew had the pleasure of presenting to the great community at University of Rhode Island (URI) and today one member of the institution is doing a presentation of her own! URI student Beck Alan produced this compelling and informational video that outlines the plight of wolves and the consequences of their delisting for her Environmental Communications class. It gave me goosebumps.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Mating Game: Couple Number Four!

Welcome back the Wolf Conservation Center's: THE MATING GAME! So far we've introduced you to the three of our four breeding pairs so today we'll be meeting our final wolf-couple "contestant." Hopefully you'll become even more familiar with all our couples by spying on them in real time on our soon-to-be launched WildEarth.TV webcams!

Couple Number 3: Red Wolves F1397 and M1483

Both F1397 and M1483 joined the WCC family in the fall of 2009. M1483 was transferred from the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, WA and F1397 used to call the North Carolina Zoological Park in Asheboro, NC home. This pair is hands down our most popular wolf couple at the WCC. Tens of thousands of WCC supporters have been entertained by the secret lives of this elusive family via our red wolf WOLFCAM.

During early March, WOLFCAM watchers were treated to some VERY encouraging romantic behavior between five-year-old M1483 and his mate, six-year-old F1397! The lupine lovers carried on for a couple of days giving the thousands of peeping toms some hope that pups are on the way. The gestation period (length of pregnancy) for wolves is 63 days, so we this red wolf family could have reason to celebrate come early May!

This couple isn't new to the Mating Game, they bred successfully during the 2010 season and had two beautiful sons, m180 and m1804. Their triumphant go at it in last winter may offer WCC guests a chance to observe a multi-generational pack of this critically endangered species! Endangered SSP wolves are usally kept away from human contact, but visitors to the WCC can catch glimpses of this pair because they are not destined to be released into the wild. Though they will live their lives in captivity, the pair is vital to the survival of red wolves as breeding stock. If F1397 has pups that are deemed suitable for reintroduction, they will be sneaked into litters in the wild. A number of captive born pups each year are selected to be transferred and inserted into the den of wild wolves. The wild wolves then embrace and raise these new pups as their own. The pups develop in the wild and thus gain survival skills required to mature and reproduce. Keep your fingers crossed and stay tuned.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Mating Game: Couple Number Three!

Welcome back the Wolf Conservation Center's: THE MATING GAME! So far we've introduced you to the two of our four breeding pairs.  Each pair was given the opportunity to breed last season so come this month or next we hope to celebrate some pups.  Today we'll be meeting our next wolf-couple "contestants."  Don't forget that you can also watch all our couples in real time on our soon-to-be launched WildEarth.TV webacms too! 

Couple Number 3: Mexican Wolves M805 and F837

The WCC was first introduced to F837 in November of 2004 when she and her three sisters were transferred from the Minnesota Zooogical Garden to the WCC as yearlings. Although the wolves are identified by alphanumeric labels - F836, F837, F838, and F839, we called the sisters “the Minnesota Girls."

When the Minnesota Girls arrived, we were relatively new to the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Program and were honored to be a part of the recovery effort. Less than a year later and with much jubilation we received the most exciting news: F837's littermate, F838, was chosen for release to the wild Southwest! Two years later another sibling, F836, also got "the call of the wild." What a thrill to offer these two sisters a life without boundaries and fence-lines, and the task of bringing an ecosystem back to balance. Unfortunately, just a few months after each of the wolves' adventures had begun, both F838 and F836 were illegally killed. Each wolf had only a few months to enjoy their rightful place in the wild. But a few months in the wild was the biggest gift we could have ever given to the girls from Minnesota. If not for some heartless criminals, they could have survived and contributed to the recovery of their species.

F837 and her mate, M805, currently live in the WCC's Lobo Exhibit and together they help visitors better understand the importance of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program and the significance of the special wolves on our property that people are not allowed to behold. The two eight-year-old lobos have bonded with one another nicely and they share something in common - each have a littermate who was given the gift of freedom six years ago this July. M805's brother, Mexican wolf M806, was "Minnesota Girl" F838's original mate! After F838's tragic death, M806 started a new family called the Bluestem Pack and has been thriving in the wild as the alpha male ever since.

This past breeding season marked the first opportunity for both wolves to breed. Fingers crossed that they have beginner's luck!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Mating Game: Couple Number Two!

Hey folks!  Welcome back the Wolf Conservation Center's: THE MATING GAME! Yesterday we introduced you to the first of our  four breeding pairs, Mexican gray wolves M740 and F749. Each pair was given the opportunity to breed last season so come this month or next we hope to celebrate some pups.  Which couple will "win" this game, nobody knows. But you might get some clues if you spy on all four of our wolf-couple "contestants" on our soon-to-be launched WildEarth.TV webacms!  Are you ready to meet couple number two?

Couple Number 2: Red Wolves M1394 and F1291

Special software developed for the population management of the red wolf population determined that WCC long-time resident, red wolf F1291, is a perfect mate for the newest wolf to join the Center's family, M1394.

Red wolf F1291 was the WCC's very first red wolf, she has been a part of the WCC family since December of 2004.  Last season the 8-year-old was paired with red wolf M1587 and although the two wolves appeared well bonded, they failed to prove fruitful.  This wasn't the first failed attempt at pups for F1291, M1587 was the second male she had been paired with during her tenure at the WCC.  F1291 is the fourth most genetically valuable wolf in the red wolf Species Survival Program so any contribution from her  would be a great benefit for the recovery of their rare species.  Worried that perhaps she was physically unable to have pups, we captured F1291 last summer for an examination.  The whole ordeal took no longer than 20 minutes and at day's end were elated to discover that F1291 was in perfect condition. Perhaps F1291 prefers that she lead the mate selection process instead of software developed for the population management of her species!  Regardless, we let a computer do the match making again and M1394 looked perfect.

M1394 is six years old and was transferred to the WCC from the Mill Mountain Zoo last December. Although the pair haven't known each other long, they appear inseparable.  Could it be third time's a charm?  We hope so!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Mating Game: Couple Number One!

Hey folks!  Welcome the Wolf Conservation Center's THE MATING GAME! Now that wolf breeding season has come to a close, it's time to wait and see which of our lucky four breeding pairs will be winners of game. The winning couples will be celebrating their pups come this month or next and global "audience" (that means you!) will be able to help us keep an eye on all four of our wolf-couple "contestants!" In the next week or so, the WCC and WildEarth.TV will be launching EIGHT brand new LIVE WOLFCAMS on all of our breeding pairs (I'm still wondering when I get my camera...) So, before we start prying into the secret lives our lucky pairs, some introductions are in order.

Couple Number One: Mexican Wolves M740 and F749

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. Although the use of software in the game of love sounds creepy, this method of match-making helps create the most genetically diverse Mexican wolf population possible. Mexican Wolves M740 and F749 don't realize this, but scientists all over North America are crossing their fingers that will prove fruitful. M740 and F749 are a vital pair with the lowest inbreeding coefficient in the MWSSP!

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 last fall, we moved F810 to live with her brothers, M804 and M807, and introduced F749 to M740 for the very first time. 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. So far the pair gets along well enough, but have they struck a love connection? We'll soon find out. Hopefully they have fallen head over paws!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Mating Game!

Now that wolf breeding season has come to a close, it's time to wait and see which of the Wolf Conservation Center's lucky four breeding pairs will be winners of THE MATING GAME!  The winning couples will be celebrating their pups come this month or next and our supporting "audience" (that means you!) will be able to help us keep an eye on all four of our wolf-couple "contestants!"  In the next week or so, the WCC and WildEarth.TV will be launching EIGHT brand new LIVE WOLFCAMS on all of our breeding pairs!  Each pair's enclosure will house two cameras: one inside their den and another outside. This means that over the coming weeks, you will be given the opportunity to watch for some promising signs of parenthood and even possible births!  To get a sample of whats to come, check out the amazing LIVE footage with audio of Jewel the black bear from the North American Bear Center

Lobo pups born 4-22-08
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 in May of 2012 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?  Stay tuned and find out!

Tomorrow: An introduction to COUPLE NUMBER ONE!

Photo of F1397 & M1483 captured TODAY with our new WOLFCAM!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Making a Difference

Wildlife and its habitat are valuable national assets. Wildlife-related recreation is an industry that generates $122 billion a year in the U.S. Protecting wildlife and its habitat also supports healthy natural systems that provide clean air and water, food, medicines and other products. The value of benefits provided by natural habitats in the U.S. is estimated at more than $2 trillion per year. (The Economics Associated with Outdoor Recreation, Natural Resources Conservation and Historic Preservation in the United States)

As a member of the Wolf Conservation Center's education team, road trips are not an uncommon part of my job. I'm often on the road traveling throughout the northeast to educate young and old about the importance of wild wolves. My adventure earlier this week, however, was different from most. I was traveling solo without my most impressive co-workers including Atka the wolf!

Defenders of Wildlife, American Bird Conservancy, Endangered Species Coalition, Bat Conservation International, National Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Refuge Association, Sierra Club, The Wildlife Society, and WWF invited over two dozen U.S. citizens representing seventeen states to participate in a two-day advocacy marathon to help secure funding for wildlife programs. My fellow participants hailed from all walks of life. I joined hunters, anglers, bird watchers, paddlers, hikers, wildlife lovers, and business owners to meet with our Congressional representatives about the importance of funding for wildlife programs in the Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies.

Our diverse group met at Defenders of Wildlife's Washington DC Headquarters to meet our cohorts and for an overview of the current status of wildlife appropriations. We reviewed crucial programs that support wildlife and habitat conservation within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Multinational Species Conservation Funds. Several members of the host organizations delivered compelling and educational presentations re: the severe cuts that threaten many federal wildlife and habitat conservation programs. We then split into teams and were assigned "Sherpas" to help us navigate the though the halls of Congress.

I was paired with James Brumm, a fascinating fellow and the Chair of the American Bird Conservancy, and together with our super Defenders of Wildlife Sherpa, Marcia Lesky, we prepared for the mission. Our team was the busiest of the bunch, Marcia scheduled seven meetings in all with representatives from both New York and Connecticut.

During all the meetings, the focus of my message was the importance of keeping the Endangered Species Act (ESA) strong. The ESA is one of our nation’s cornerstone environmental laws and has helped prevent the extinction of treasured wildlife including the bald eagle, Florida manatee, and California condor. It exists because of the citizens of this country and a bi-partisan Congress almost 40 years ago had a vision of responsible stewardship of the Earth. Thanks to the ESA, the reintroduction of wolves to our Nation's landscape has helped to restore vital ecological processes and continues to impact our environment in positive ways scientists are only now beginning to realize. Wolves and other wildlife supported by the ESA have also proven to have great economic value. The wildlife-related recreation industry generates $122 billion annually here in the U.S.. Seems to me that wildlife is a great investment on many fronts.

At day's end we gathered for a nice reception with all the amazing staff from the hosting organizations, some Congressional staffers, their bosses and more. It was an educational experience that I would welcome to repeat and I hope that our personal stories will have a positive impact on the future of our Nation's natural treasures. Do you have a story you would like to share with your representative? Visit to contact your Senator and to contact you Congressperson. Please remember that we all have a voice and the right to use it in order to safeguard our planet for generations to come.