Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mexican Wolf Reunion

Most of the Mexican gray wolves or lobos that call the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) home are never seen by visitors to the Center.  For this reason, it's surprising that a number of these elusive creatures have a fan base!

Mexican wolf F749 is by far the most popular Mexican wolf at the WCC living off-exhibit.  Even her arrival won the hearts of WCC supporters.  Three years ago, F749 was flown to the WCC by an environmental aviation organization called Lighthawk.  The organization's volunteers still inquire about "their girl" on a regular basis.  I suppose F749 really made a lasting impression on the generous crew during the time in the air between New Mexico and New York!

Once we launched WCC's WildEarthtv webcams, this beautiful loba had a global audience.   Starting in the spring of 2012, her following grew at the same rate that her belly swelled.  Sadly, F749 went through a series of devastating events shortly after the birth of her eight pups in early May.  In the late spring she lost her litter, and last month she lost her mate, M740.  Alone, there is no way that F749 could know how many people had her in their thoughts.  Thankfully, F749 won't be alone for long.  A week ago, we moved Mexican wolf M804 to her enclosure so the two can adjust to one another while divided by a fence line.  It's a reunion really, the two have lived together in the past.  When F749 first arrived to the WCC in 2009, she lived with Mexican wolves M804, M805 and M807 for a year.  It wasn't until last year that she was moved to live with M740.  So now, we wait until the gates can be opened to allow these old companions to have a proper reunion and hopefully later this winter, a romantic union as well.  As it turns out, the pair is a fine match genetically and the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan management group hopes the two will breed.  We'll be moving some webcams to the pair's enclosure soon so we can all watch and hope that"our girl" finds comfort in her new family.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wolf Conservation Center Supporters Made Giving Tuesday a Howling Success

The Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) invited you to join a national movement to change the calendar and help make history, and you heard our howls! Through the WCC's partnership with #GivingTuesday, the WCC recognized the inaugural holiday with two giving campaigns:
  • In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we chose to turn our attention to relief efforts for our neighbors in the Northeast. With your support, we raised $800 for the Humane Society of the United States and Food Bank for New York City to help families and pets get their lives back together. Thank you!
  • Thanks to the generous matching grant from the Handler Family Foundation, every dollar donated to the WCC on Tuesday, November 27th, had double the impact! Your online donations of $9,840 have been matched to total an amazing $19,680 to help us continue our dual mission of education and conservation. We are humbled by your support.
Hoping your holiday is wonderfully wild 
Thank you!

Friday, November 23, 2012

WCC's Giving Tuesday Celebration Starts Today

Looking for a meaningful gift for a friend or family member? Please consider "adopting" one of the wolves that calls the Wolf Conservation Center home! Our "Adopt-a-Wolf" program not only gives back to the wolves, but also pets and families in need.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the WCC is turning its attention to relief efforts for our neighbors in the Northeast. Between "Black Friday" and #GivingTuesday (November 23rd - November 27th), the WCC will donate 50% of all WCC "Adopt-a-Wolf" revenue to the Humane Society of the United States and Food Bank for New York City, two notable organizations that are helping families and pets get their lives back together after the storm. It's just one of the two campaigns the WCC is offering as a #GivingTuesday partner so we can help put giving back into the holiday season.


More Holiday Gifts that Give Back to the Wolves

This holiday season, let the WCC help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your shopping list! Find extraordinary and affordable holiday gifts starting at just $5! When you purchase any WCC item as a gift -- from pup plush toys to 2013 calendars to all-new WCC ornaments and pins -- you are actually giving twice: Once to the gift's lucky recipient, and once to all the wolves at the WCC.

Wishing you all a WILD weekend!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks to a Special Wolf

One of the biggest challenges for Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) staff and volunteers is figuring ways to say "thank you" everyday to a very special wolf. This fellow needs no introduction to the over 30,000 people that see him annually, but for those who have yet to meet the CEO of the WCC's Ambassador team, his name is Atka. As an Ambassador wolf, Atka lives on exhibit where he can "teach" WCC visitors about the importance of his wild counterparts. Atka also enjoys traveling with WCC staff to help extend education programming far beyond the WCC's boundaries in South Salem, NY.

While Atka seems to enjoy his role as Ambassador, unlike some of the critically endangered red and Mexican gray wolves, he will never be granted to opportunity to be a wild wolf. Atka thus misses out on the natural challenges and adventures that his wild brothers and sisters face everyday. For this reason, we strive to show our gratitude to Atka by introducing him to new experiences, smells, tastes and textures as often as we can. Yesterday, thanks to the hospitality of a generous WCC supporter, Atka got to spend the day at the beach! Atka loves the shore, the smells, rocks, and never fail to make him smile. Thank you, Atka. You're truly an amazing wolf.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wolf Conservation Center Mourns Mexican Wolf M740

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the death of a special wolf that many of us "knew." On November 15, Mexican Gray Wolf M740 passed away. His necropsy revealed that he lived with an undetectable and rare chronic bloat condition.

M740 was nine years old and has called the Wolf Conservation Center home since his transfer from the Brookfield Zoo three years ago. He was paired with Mexican wolf F810 for his first two years until last year when members of the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan discovered that he and Mexican wolf F749 had the lowest inbreeding coefficient in the program. An introduction was in order. The pair didn't realize this, but scientists all over North America were crossing their fingers that M740 and F749 would prove fruitful.

Like most of our Mexican wolves, the pair resided off-exhibit in a natural environment where these most elusive creatures can reside with minimal human contact. In the spirit of George Orwell’s “1984,” WCC makes use of live WildEarthTV webcams to observe food and water intake and monitor the physical well-being of each wolf without the animals’ knowledge.  By inviting the public to join, we allow them to learn about these beautiful creatures they might otherwise never see.   Mexican wolves M740 and F749 were the most popular pair via webcam.  Watchers were treated to witnessing their courtship develop, F749's belly swell beyond what seemed physically possible, and then WCC staff members give the thumbs up on camera one morning in May after discovering the pair's robust litter of newborns. Our hearts go out to his mate and those of you who this wolf had unknowingly touched.
RIP M740.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Virgil the Turkey Cries "Wolf!"

Atka never fails to thrill adults and children with his trademark rock star, nonchalant attitude. But when a visiting ambassador started to gain the attention of Atka's fans, our Ambassador wolf felt pressure to turn up the charm. We invited our feathered friend, Virgil the Turkey, to join our Saturday morning program as a special treat to open the holiday season. Virgil was amazing. He marched around outside our classroom wowing the crowd with his dynamic hairy snood.

Because WCC guests were still abuzz with "Virgil fever" by the time they reached Atka's territory further up the hill, Atka literally performed a song and dance to crush the competition. At program's end, Atka needed his beauty rest. I wonder if he realizes he need not perform to impress his fans, he's pretty magnificent even when deep in sleep.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wyoming Wolves Getting Their Day in Court

On August 31, 2012 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) officially stripped federal protections from Wyoming's wolves and handed management over to the state, a controversial decision, and contradiction of the agency's stance in the past. Although USFWS had previously criticized Wyoming's state wolf plan on the grounds that unregulated shooting in most of the state would reduce the state’s wolf population below federally required levels, the agency took a significantly altered position, announcing that these wolves no longer warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The following day, management was handed over to the state and Wyoming's inaugural wolf hunt commenced.  

Wyoming's 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
Two months ago, as required by the ESA, several wildlife advocacy organizations filed a notice of intent to sue the administration if it did not reconsider its decision to prematurely rescind ESA protection for wolves in Wyoming. Now the mandatory waiting period is over, Wyoming’s wolves will be getting their day in court. On November 13th, Defenders of Wildlife, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), The Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity, all represented by Earthjustice — officially filed suit in federal district court in the District of Columbia asking "the court to declare this rule illegal, and put wolves back on the endangered species list until Wyoming adopts a responsible management plan that ensures the continued survival and recovery of wolves in the region."

Back in September, National Wolfwatcher Coalition, WildEarth Guardians, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Conservation Congress, Friends of Animals, Friends of the Clearwater, and Western Watersheds Project also filed a notice of intent to sue. So wolves will and their advocates will have their day in court, but even if victorious, how many of more Wyoming's wolves will fall victim to the hunts that have so many hackles raised.

Read more :

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dr. Rasmussen Responds to African Painted Dog Tragedy

Last year Dr. Gregory Rasmussen, founder and director of the Painted Dog Conservation Project (PDC), treated Wolf Conservation Center supporters to an educational and inspirational lecture about his life's passion, the African Painted Dog. Painted Dogs, also known as African Wild Dogs, are unique to Africa and they are among the continent's most endangered species. For MILLIONS of years this unique predator thrived throughout most of the continent. Over the past few centuries, however, painted dogs were persecuted so heavily that by the mid-1900’s most African countries were void of this beautiful canid. Sounds familiar, huh? In the 1970s, as few as 300 or so dogs were struggling to survive with resilient populations only living in and around a handful of African National Parks.

Over the past twenty years, the PDC has made great strides on behalf of the organization's namesake. Sadly, their latest work has been in response to a tragic event that took place earlier this month at the Pittsburgh Zoo. A two-year-old boy was killed after falling into the Zoo's African painted dog exhibit. As we are tasked with educating people about the wolf, one of the most misunderstood predators in the northern hemisphere, we feel compelled to share Dr. Rasmussen's comment re: the recent tragedy at the Pittsburgh Zoo:

"Like lions, tigers, and bears etc, Painted Dogs are a predator and are wired that way. Behaviorally in the wild there never has been a case of Painted Dogs ever attacking man and were I to suddenly appear in the wild all the dogs would alarm call and run away. The same incidentally applies to most predators that are truly wild to include wolves and the same has been my experience with lions in Zimbabwe where they detect you and avoid you. Whilst there are exceptions to every rule generally this is the case. Predators that have no experience of habituation avoid humans, those that have close contact with humans have a familiarity and no fear. This is why hand raised lions for example should never be released into the wild and I believe that even the very special conservationist George Adamson felt the same way and did not advocate for hand raised lions to be released into the wild, as animals become imprinted and imprinting cannot be removed. 

Therefore in the specific case of Pittsburgh, in reality it has nothing to do with pack mentality, were it a solitary lion, tiger or bear the outcome I am sure would have inevitably been the same. This is of course much the same as if a person crossed the barrier on a motorway, fell of a bridge etc the result would be inevitable as they would be entering a dangerous space.  

So overall I would like you to point out that there has NEVER been an attack in the wild, and that these are extraneous circumstances. I would also like you to highlight that my condolences are with the family, the zoo and those that have had to deal with this appalling incident. Though wildlife must be ranked as the smallest contributor to human death, sadly accidents happen and when they do they are tragic."

Are hearts go out to the boy's family and the caretakers at the Zoo. We hope that this isolated incident does not impede the recovery of these zoo animals' wild counterparts.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Legal Wolf Battle Ends Victorious for Sportsmen Groups

ESA protections for wolves were eliminated in the northern Rocky Mountain States of Idaho and Montana, and parts of Utah, Washington and Oregon in May of 2009. In delisting wolves, the Fish and Wildlife Service authorized Idaho and Montana to hold wolf hunts that year, Montana’s ending with 73 wolves killed and Idaho with 185 killed. The hunts were controversial but the state-by-state approach to delisting wolves had advocacy organizations filing suit to restore federal protections.

Yesterday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals gave the victory to the states of Montana and Idaho, as well as some sportsmen groups in the legal battle over hunting wolves. The court ordered that a 2010 district court ruling concerning the partial de-listing of wolves from the Endangered Species Act be vacated, and that the underlying case be considered as moot.

Read more from Montana's

Latest Posted Wolf Hunt Kill in Northern Rockies
Idaho Wolf Hunt Total: 86
Montana Wolf Hunt Total: 47
Wyoming WolfHunt Total: 44

Total Reported Killed This Year: 177
Total Reported Killed Since Delisting: 722

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mexican wolves Born at the Wolf Conservation Center in 2008 Get Clean Bill of Health

Early Tuesday morning, Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) staff and volunteers began the second of several “health exam capture days” scheduled this month. We gathered equipped with all the tools necessary to best prepare our team to meet the challenge of catching seven extra elusive lobos: clipboards, vaccinations, thermometers, a scale, and leftover Halloween candy to keep us energized.

In order to administer vaccinations, take blood, and weigh each wolf, we calmly herd the wolves through their spacious enclosure and into capture boxes - wooden doghouse-like structures with removable roofs. Once a wolf is captured in the box, the WCC's generous volunteer veterinarian proceeds with the exam. The actual checkup takes only minutes, the real challenge is capturing the frightened wolves. In past annual exams, capturing thirteen-year-old F613 and her six four-year-old offspring hasn't been as easy as we would like. But on Tuesday, to the relief of Pound Ridge Veterinary Center's Dr Renee Bayha who is quite experienced working with this robust pack, all seven wolves ran into their boxes without a hitch. All the wolves looked in tip top shape and Mama wolf F613 looked absolutely amazing. I guess managing rowdy four-year-olds can keep a gal spry! Big thanks to Dr Renee Bayha for again volunteering her time, expertise, and labor this morning and to Mexican wolf F613 for taking great care of her family.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, Hélène Grimaud!

Hélène and Alawa

Hélène Grimaud, founder of the Wolf Conservation Center, will be spending her birthday performing in LA's prestigious Walt Disney Concert Hall featuring music from her 2010 album Resonances. On her special day, we thank her for her voice as a global advocate for wolves. In Hélène's words, wolves are not only essential “biodiversity engineers,” preserving balances among animal and plant species but also “endlessly fascinating creatures who have much to teach humans.” Happy birthday, Hélène!

Monday, November 5, 2012

WCC's Mexican Gray Wolves Discover New Territory

Mexican wolf M740

Early this morning, Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) staff and volunteers began the first of several "health exam capture days" scheduled this season. Under Species Survival Plan protocols, all captive critically endangered Mexican Gray Wolves and Red Wolves must be checked by a veterinarian on a yearly basis. With the exception of these events, these special wolves live peacefully in a natural environment to help maintain their timidity and best prepare them for a future in the wilds of Arizona.

Paul Maus, DVM
Today's examinations were lead by WCC friend and veterinarian, Paul Maus, DVM from North Westchester Veterinary Office. Our dedicated team, having been outfoxed by these very wolves before, met prepared to meet the inevitable challenges involved in capturing three evasive wolf packs. Thankfully, we finished processing the 7 wolves (administering vaccinations, taking blood, and weights) within a couple of hours and released everyone back home before lunch. Their "homes," however, were their biggest surprises of the day! All three packs were shifted so each group returned to new turf following their checkups. Mexican Wolves F837 and M805 are no longer living on exhibit at the WCC, at present, our visitors will be granted the opportunity to behold M805's litter-mates, F810, M807, and M804. All three packs were shifted, and no doubt, all three packs are tasked with much exploration and scent marking throughout the coming days. Enjoy the adventure, lobos!
Mexican Wolf F837

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Annual Health Checks for WCC's Endangered Wolves Begin

Daylight Saving Time has officially ended. It's time to set your clocks back, change the batteries in your smoke detectors, and for the WCC to conduct annual health examinations on the 16 Mexican gray wolves and 6 red wolves that call the Center home. Tomorrow we'll begin the first of several "health exam capture days" scheduled this season. Stay tuned for updates!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Wolf Conservation Center Supporters Lend a Helping Paw

Although we still have lots to do in the coming weeks to recover from Hurricane Sandy, we have been making some progress. Our dedicated volunteers have been working tirelessly to remove fallen trees and erect damaged fences and sadly, the end is not currently in sight. Enormous thanks to our supporters who have sent in donations to help us in this effort, every penny helps! If you care to contribute as well, please donate via this link:

We also owe howls of gratitude to our community for donating their tools and services! The great folks from QualityPro have been an enormous help, spending hours of their time assisting WCC staff and volunteers reassemble our Center. We consider ourselves a lucky bunch, our pack is bigger than we could have ever hoped. THANK YOU!

More photos of our pack at work taken by WCC volunteer Josh Lewis:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Recovering From Hurricane Sandy: The Wolves are Alright

Ambassador wolf Atka lending a helping paw

Wolf Conservation Center staff, volunteers, and wolves are sharing a collective sigh of relief. Although Hurricane Sandy did a number on our Center in South Salem, NY, everyone is alright. Dozens of enormous trees fell victim to the storm's powerful winds tearing down several fences in their fall. Thankfully, although several enclosures were compromised, the wolves remained safe and contained during the powerful storm. WCC staff and volunteers have been working day and night to repair the damage, even working throughout the storm itself putting their own safety at risk. While we continue to recover from the storm, we have cancelled all onsite programs this weekend, November 3rd and 4th. Like many in the northeast, we're still without power and sadly our generator has failed. If anyone has a generator they are able to lend or donate to the WCC, please contact Rebecca Bose at or 914-217-5969. Big thanks to everyone  sending well wishes our way!

WCC's heroes!
 More photos: