Monday, December 31, 2012

A Special New Year Message From Amabassador Wolf Atka

Sunday, December 30, 2012

National Geographic's Crittercam Offers Red Wolf Perspecitive

Ever wonder what it would be like to see the world through the eyes of a wolf?

 National Geographic's  Kyler Abernathy
Thanks to National Geographic's Kyler Abernathy, we have a pretty good idea how our wolves experience their world. 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 - small cameras that offer researchers an opportunity to observe animal behaviors that often elude human eyes. Already these tools have provided a view in the sometimes secret and mysterious world of many species including tree kangaroos, Humboldt squid, sea lions, and more. This summer, Kyler and the team deployed a new model Crittercam on cheetahs in Botswana. The new design worked perfectly on wild cats, but in order to test for potential use with wolves in the wild, Kyler called on us. He knew we'd be up to assist; last year Atka and Alawa successfully sported an earlier version of the unobtrusive collars with flair! But to best perfect the Crittercam collars for wild wolves, Kyler needed to test the new model on wolves we couldn't count on to cooperate.

As a participant in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP), the WCC hosts two red wolf packs. These wolves exhibit behavior typical of their wild counterparts - shy and elusive. Under SSP protocols, all captive, critically endangered wolves must be checked by a veterinarian on a yearly basis. With the exception of these events, the SSP wolves are off limits. So with the approval of the Red Wolf SSP, we invited Kyler to join us for the WCC's red wolf health exams. In order to administer vaccinations, take blood, and weigh each wolf, we calmly herd the wolves through their spacious enclosures and into capture boxes - wooden doghouse-like structures with removable roofs. Although the wolves surely dislike these events, they've come to expect our annual intrusions. Red wolf F1397's most recent exam, however, is one she will likely remember. Unlike the rest of the wolves, she received a bit of "bling" at checkup's end! For the next few days F1397 assumed a new role in her pack- she became a Nation Geographic videographer. Her appointment, although impressive, was short lived though. After just four days, Kyler scheduled the collar to detonate an internal collar release mechanism so we could retrieve the tool and F1397's handiwork. Now we'll have to wait to see what a red wolf's angle on our world is.

Stay tuned!

WCC's Maggie Howell, Kyker Abernathy, and WCC's Rebecca Bose

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wyoming Wolf Population Could Slip 40 Percent

Franz Camenzind, wildlife biologist and former director of Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, surmises that Wyoming wolf numbers may have dropped by 40%. The state's inaugural hunt, controlled killing and other deaths have put the wolf population on "Some pretty thin ice."

Read more:

For an update re: the newly consolidated lawsuits challenging WY's wolf plan originally filed by two coalitions, read here:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Howlidays from the Wolf Conservation Center


'Tis the night before Christmas 
And Santa is prowling 
We know that he's close 
'Cause the wolves are all howling!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dr Rolf Peterson's Take on Wolf Hunts in Michigan's U.P.

Rolf Peterson of Michigan Tech University was the lead biologist on Isle Royale for decades. In this photo, Peterson gives WCC educators an opportunity to help process an elk that was taken down by Yellowstone wolves.
Dr Rolf Peterson, lead biologist on Isle Royale for decades, comments on whether Michigan should allow hunting of gray wolves in the state's Upper Peninsula. Michigan ABC 10 News reports "He doesn’t believe the wolf population poses any real public safety threat to residents in the U.P. Peterson says as long as you aren’t leaving garbage or other food out that wolves can get into…you shouldn’t have a problem. If there is a wolf hanging around your property, call the DNR and they will respond."

Watch video of his interview:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

“Wine & Wolves” Gets Wonderfully Wild!

Big thanks to our community for rallying to help us celebrate wolves!
On Thursday, December 13, 2012 the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) hosted an audience of 115 supporters at their annual holiday fundraiser at the Carriage House of the Waccabuc Country Club,Wine & Wolves.

The event celebrated the WCC's recent achievements including education innovations to acquire a global audience to increase awareness of different wolf species and the Center's efforts to recover them. While the WCC's accomplishments in 2012 reached far beyond the gates of the Center's 27 acres in South Salem, the event itself had community flair.

The WCC reached out to local restaurants and merchants to ask them to sponsor “tasting tables.” “The response was inspiring,” reported WCC Acting Director, Maggie Howell. Bacio Trattoria (Cross River), Bluebird Ice Cream (Cross River), Crabtree's Kittle House (Chappaqua), Distell, Gail Patrick's Cafe (Chappaqua), Grissini's (Vista), Haiku (Cross River), The Horse and Hound (South Salem), Le Chateau (South Salem), Market Place Kitchen and Bar (Danbury), Mount Kisco Seafood (Mt Kisco), Opici Wines, Two Meatballs Pizzeria (North Salem), and 121 (North Salem), generously agreed to provide delicious food and wine and Cartwright and Daughters (Carmel) provided the plates, utensils, and glasses – all completely free of charge to the WCC. In addition to the wine and food tasting, dozens of local stores and artists donated items for auction which brought in additional funds to help the WCC continue its mission. “This event literally took place completely through the generosity of the community – the people who attended, the food and wine vendors who participated, and the others who donated for both the raffle and the auction,” said Board President, Martha Handler. “It really makes me proud to live here.”

“It's been a great year for the WCC ,” explained Howell, “and it was such a treat to celebrate with our supporters and so many of our neighbors too." County Executive Robert Astorino joined the "pack," recognizing the WCC as unique community resource. He enthusiastically recalled his experience howling with Atka and watching elusive Mexican gray wolves emerge to feast on Westchester's own road-kill deer! But the highlight of the evening was when Ambassador Wolf Atka joined the party. Not only did he "teach" the packed room about the importance of his wild brothers and sisters, he also made a pair of bartenders jump when he rose to the bar as if ordering a cocktail! The event is called Wine and Wolves after all...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Yellowstone Wolves Get a Temporary Reprieve

Agate's Pack former Alpha Female 471F from 2011 (photo: Brandi Nichols)

Yesterday, Montana wildlife commissioners closed down the gray wolf hunting season in some areas outside Yellowstone National Park after several collared wolves were shot when beyond the safety of Yellowstone's reach. This move comes just days after Yellowstone Wolf “06″ fell victim outside the park in neighboring Wyoming. The closures prohibit hunting and trapping and include areas north of the park around the town of Gardiner. The great folks from National Wolfwatcher Coalition are among those responsible for the temporary hunt closures, their concerns began back in August when at the very least they asked for a hunt and trap-free zone enacted immediately to surround Yellowstone National Park to protect this shrinking population of wolves. So today we give howls of gratitude to the wildlife advocates who spoke up on behalf of this special population of wolves. While this news is promising, it comes after the deaths of 12 Yellowstone, of which 7 were collared. This Saturday marks the opening day of Montana's first wolf trapping season. How will pets and wildlife fare when faced with these indiscriminate and barbaric hunting tools? We'll know soon enough.

 Read more:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Yellowstone Wolf "06" Falls Victim in Wyoming's Inaugural Hunt

Some call her a rock star, others "06," 832F, or the most famous wolf in the world. Anyway you cut it, her reach was remarkable for a wild animal that had nothing to do with the numerous monikers she was given. Sadly, her celebrity swelled to national proportions when last week this often viewed beast became a hunter's prize. Wolf “06″, the 6-year-old gray alpha female of the Yellowstone’s Lamar Canyon Pack, was shot in Wyoming by a hunter just 16 miles beyond the safety of Yellowstone National Park's border. She was killed in Wyoming's "trophy zone" in the northwest corner of the state. News of her death hit wolf-watchers from around the world hard, evoking emotions of hate, grief, and despair. "06" has since become a media phenomenon leaving wildlife advocates with hope that her stardom will demonstrate to the public and decision makers the great educational, scientific, and economic impact Yellowstone wolves can have and the unnatural challenges they currently face to keep a place on the western landscape. Wolf Conservation Center staff, volunteers, and supporters are among the lucky who were able to behold 06 thriving on the Yellowstone landscape. Here are some original WCC blog posts recounting encounters with the wild rule-breaker we called "06."

DAY ONE IN YELLOWSTONE by Maggie Howell - June 30, 2010

"06" sizing up her prey
The Wolf Conservation Center’s Yellowstone Adventure is off to an incredible start! The WCC's education crew met up with fellow adventurers and WCC supporters on Monday afternoon and within less than 24 hours we encountered dozens of diverse species. Although the official count has yet to be determined, all of us agree that the number isn’t why our first full day in the park far exceeded our expectations. The awesome interactions among the different species are what made our day so special. I won’t recount them all, but two exciting highlights presented nail-biting predator-prey interactions. 

Early in the morning we watched the industrious four-year-old “Gray female 06” of the Lamar Canyon Pack attempt making a kill all on her own. We were captivated by the intense chase for quite some time. This beautiful wolf, with looks similar to that of WCC’s ambassador wolf Lukas, pursued a bull elk in and out of powerful rivers until she finally conceded – no doubt to the relief of her prey. Once Gray female 06 retreated to the lush sage brush on higher ground, she was welcomed by her four hungry and playful pups! We wondered where the two males that comprise the rest of her pack could have been, perhaps they were the culprits causing several coyotes to yip and howl on the opposite hill.  

DAY ONE IN YELLOWSTONE by National Wolfwatcher Coalition's Founding Board Member Diane Bentivegna - July 8, 2011  

Renowned throughout the world for its natural wonders, inspiring scenery and mysterious wild nature, America’s first national park certainly lived up to its extraordinary reputation today. From the unique geological features of the park to the breathtaking mountain environs, visiting Yellowstone became a dream realized for 17 eager nature-enthusiasts who joined the WCC’s educational team on a wildlife expedition that will long be remembered as both unique and personally enriching on so many different levels.  

Towering 50 feet over us as we arrived through the North Entrance, the Roosevelt Arch, Yellowstone’s first major gateway, welcomed us via the town of Gardiner, a vibrant and hospitable western town. With so many different animal species populating Yellowstone, we knew it was impossible to conclude this trip without sighting a myriad of the park’s wild inhabitants. And, just as anticipated, an amazing display of free roaming wildlife quickly materialized, captivating our excitement and utter joy!

Black Male 754M of the Lamar Canyon Pack

Personally, a dream was realized on the very first day of my very first visit to this extraordinary natural wonderland! Female 06 of the Lamar Canyon Pack was my first wild wolf sighting….ever! Her amazing reputation for being the pack’s rock star/female alpha intrigued me from the earliest stories I have heard about her – her amazing devotion to her pack, her stunning hunting prowess and her inspiring spirit of wild independence awed me. To see her emerge among the vast brush of Slough Creek, carrying meat from a recent kill to feed her newest arrivals back at the den, was the whole purpose for my participation with the WCC expedition this year. When I saw that she was joined by her yearlings, as well, this vision made my 2000 mile trek to America’s West go well beyond my expectations! I feel honored that 06 and the rest of the Lamar Canyon pack welcomed me to their wild home and allowed me to share these extraordinary images …memories that I shall remember for the rest of my life!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Catty Wolves?

During wolf breeding season, we are tasked with separating each pack's non-breeding males and females. In the wild, wolves naturally avoid breeding with pack members, an innate behavior that decreases the risk of adverse mutations. For this reason, it's common for young pack members to disperse from their natal pack in order to breed. Winter intensifies emotions in both wild and captive wolves, but limited by the boundaries of their enclosure, captive wolves are unable to disperse. With such restrictions, it's necessary that all male family members be kept apart from the females until hormones subside. This solution prevents inbreeding, but it fails to alleviate some of the tension that builds among same-sex family members. It's not uncommon for pack females to challenge one another during this season, and with no escape options, this rivalry among sisters can become lethal. It's not a phenomenon in every pack, but this year we'll be taking precautions to reduce the risk of injury among one group of sisters who were born at the WCC in 2008. It's possible to better manage unruly wolves in estrus with birth control treatments called MGA (melengestrol acetate) and Deslorelin. These oral remedies have been proven to diminish the competitive behavior that females naturally demonstrate during the winter months. Come March, hormones will settle and family reunions will follow.