Thursday, June 27, 2013

Nationwide Wolf Delisting Plan Politically Driven

On June 7, 2013, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced its controversial plan to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the contiguous United States.  Federal ESA protections would remain only for the small population of Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) in the desert Southwest. 

Why the controversy? 

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires that endangered species listing decisions must be governed by the best available science.  Although USFWS director Daniel M. Ashe declared victory for gray wolf recovery by stating  “Wolves are recovered and they are now in good hands,” 16 scientists with expertise in carnivore taxonomy and conservation biology believe the delsiting rule is terribly premature.  So who is correct, the scientists or the elected officials?  The Wolf Conservation Center shares the same concerns expressed by the scientists and by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals.

Documents obtained by PEER through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit confirm that USFWS presided over a the delisting decision process with political and economic considerations at the forefront, not science.

“These documents confirm our worst suspicions that the fate of the wolf was decided at a political bazaar. The meeting notes certainly explain why no outside scientists were welcome,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch who had been seeking the records since April 2012. “From what we can see, Structured Decision Making was structured primarily to deal out the lower-48 population of gray wolves.”

Read the PEER Press Release

In the meantime, the 90-day public comment period continues until September 11, 2013.  To submit your comment, please click HERE:

You can also email Secretary Jewell and your representatives.  The National Wolfwatcher Coalition offers helpful talking points.
Thank you for your support and stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

"Earth laughs in flowers." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mexican Gray Wolf Pups Thriving

Mexican wolves m1297 & m1298 at 47 days old
During the afternoon of May 8, 2013, Mexican gray wolf F749 crawled into her homemade den and quietly gave birth to two male pups, m1297 and m1298. Due to the mother’s poor record of keeping her vulnerable and valuable pups alive (F749 has lost several litters in her 11 years, only 2 of her last 19 pups survived), the 2 one-day-old pups were pulled from their parents less than 24 hours after their birth to be hand reared at Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden and eventually placed with Mexican wolf foster parents there.

Yesterday, we received an encouraging update from our friends at Mesker - the pups are doing great!  The process has been arduous but they are coming along nicely.  The introduction to the surrogate parents has just recently begun.  At this point the pups are in an acclimation pen where the wolves have the option of checking meeting one another through a fence. This part of the introduction process is very slow and the zoo will keep us updated.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Young Author Creating a Brighter Future for Wolves

Wolves, their recovery, and the status of this keystone predator in the United States continue to be hot topics in in our country. In the past year we've seen many U.S. wolf populations go from endangered to hunted, leaving so many wildlife advocates exhausted, angry, and discouraged. While some have lost hope, others are rolling up their sleeves ready to take on challenges of the future, and they're not even old enough to vote!

Earlier this month, we met a very special 12-year-old conservationist who also happens to be a published author! We first crossed paths with Katya Raskin two years ago when Wolf Conservation Center Ambassador wolf Atka presented at her school in Yonkers, NY.  Well, Atka made a lasting impression on the middle school dynamo and he is now the protagonist's namesake in Katya's first book - "Howl of the Wolf."  In her book, "Atka" leads the wolves of Pack 16 on a journey through the woods of Alaska to find a safe place to settle. They encounter many dangerous obstacles along the way. Expect the unexpected. 

Katya hopes to raise awareness for wolves through her novel, and inspire other children to express their passions through the written or visual arts.  The book also includes vocabulary words and a glossary that aligns with standards for middle school students. So the book is a great read and a valuable educational tool as well!

We encourage you to order Katya's book, "Howl of the Wolf," HERE.  Katya donates 20% of proceeds from her books to help support shelter animals in need.

Katya has a bright future in front of her, and we're so excited to follow her upcoming endeavors.  Way to go, Katya!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Supermoon Smirk

Friday, June 21, 2013

Happy Summer Solstice

It's going to be a long day...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Speak Up for Montana Wolves

The wolf hunts in Montana have been controversial from the start. Wolves in the state were endangered until Congress passed a 2011 budget rider (Sec. 1713) that removed federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections from wolves in the northern Rocky Mountain States of Idaho, Montana, and parts of Utah, Washington and Oregon. No longer endangered, the state's first wolf hunt began just months after protections were lifted. The wolf hunting season ended with a total harvest of 166 wolves. During Montana’s 2012/2013 wolf season, hunters and trappers killed a total of 225 wolves. This year Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) aim to increase the harvest and introduce extremely controversial hunting methods to reach their harvest quota.

In May, FWP published the new proposed rules for a 2013-14 wolf hunting and trapping season. The FWP Wildlife Management Chief said the reasons for the proposed changes in MT's upcoming wolf hunting season are twofold. “We’re just looking for opportunities to hunt wolves … and it’s an attempt to reduce the population,” he added “We’ve always had a philosophy of incrementally increasing harvest rates and opportunities.” Although wolves in Montana were considered endangered just two years ago, and the state's wolf population declined by 4% last year, FWP’s proposed season is by far its most aggressive yet.

FWP proposes to implement this “management” plan by:

• extending the general hunting season from four and a half to six and a half months (September 15 to March 31)
• increasing per-person bag limits from one wolf to five
• continuing to allow trapping of wolves
• allowing wolves to be shot over baited traps
• allowing the use of electronic calls (some of which mimic the cries of pups)
• allowing pregnant or lactating female wolves to be killed
• maintaining no statewide and only two hunting district quotas

What you can do:

Comment Period ends on June 24th at 5PM and a final decision will be made at a Commission meeting on July 10th in Helena. Please consider submitting your comment here. The National Wolfwatcher Coalition offers helpful talking points. Thank you!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

“You know, sometimes the world seems like a pretty mean place.'
'That's why animals are so soft and huggy.”
Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

The Wolf Conservation Center is home to a few fellas who have worn the badge of fatherhood and today we want to honor them. Mexican wolves M804, M740,  M566, M575, M904 and red wolf M1483, Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Support Wolves with the Power of Your Pen

A great way to support wolves and their recovery is by writing a Letter to the Editor (LTE). A letter by WCC's Maggie Howell was published in today's Salt Lake Tribune re: USFWS's nationwide delsting plan. Read it here.

You too can join the conversation. If you're interested in learning how to write an effective LTE, please visit National Wolfwatcher Coalition's website page dedicated to this process.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Tree Hugger

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

"Excuse me while I kiss the sky." ~Jimi Hendrix

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Nationwide Gray Wolf Delisting Proposal - What You Can Do

Four Decades of Wolf Recovery Slated to End

Last Friday the USFWS officially announced its plan to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the contiguous United States. Federal ESA protections would remain only for the small population of Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) in the desert Southwest.

Will History Repeat Itself?

Wolves have been in the cross-hairs before. Gray wolves were persecuted so heavily in the past that by the mid-1900’s most lands in the lower 48 United States were void of this top predator. With the support of the American public, however, the wolf was able to return to portions of its native range. In areas where wolves were restored like the northern Rocky Mountains and western Great Lakes states, scientists have noted more diverse plant and wildlife thriving where they had been suppressed for decades. Wolves are a critical keystone species in a healthy ecosystem.  Without predators, such as wolves, the system fails to support a natural level of biodiversity.  As Aldo Leopold wrote in A Sand County Almanac in the Chapter “Thinking Like A Mountain”

“I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer. And perhaps with better cause, for while a buck pulled down by wolves can be replaced in two or three years, a range pulled down by too many deer may fail of replacement in as many decades.”

The ESA let our country give wolves a second chance.  With second chances so hard to come by, should we be willing to throw it away?

Next Steps to Act for America's Wolves

Although USFWS director Daniel M. Ashe declared victory for gray wolf recovery by stating  “Wolves are recovered and they are now in good hands," the WCC feels that the delsiting rule is terribly premature.  USFWS is gauging gray wolf recovery solely on the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes wolf populations. Under the Endangered Species Act, USFWS is obligated to recover endangered species across a "significant portion” of their historic range.  In recent years, there have been several reports of wolves from Canada crossing the frozen St. Lawrence Seaway into Maine, wolves travelling miles south into the southern Rocky Mountain states of Utah and Colorado, and accounts of one wolf, OR-7, becoming a media sensation when he became the first wild wolf to enter California in over 80 years.  By stripping federal protections from wolves nationwide, these pioneers on the West Coast and in historically occupied areas like the southern Rockies and Northeast, may never be able to establish a viable populations despite suitable habitat and availability of prey.

The USFWS’s delisting proposal will be open for public comment for 90 days. Although information on how to provide comments has yet to be made available on the USFWS’s wolf information page at, we encourage you to begin taking action immediately.

If your hackles are up, please consider emailing Secretary Jewell and your representatives.  The National Wolfwatcher Coalition offers helpful talking points.
Thank you for your support!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Wolf Conservation Center Sketching Safari

Yesterday we were thrilled to present wildlife & conservation artist Alison Nicholls to lead an adventure in creativity - the Wolf Conservation Center Sketching Safari!

Nine artistic  supporters joined the three-hour program to enjoy the morning and to capture the splendor of WCC's Ambassador wolves on paper.  The workshop began with an informative session and demo in our classroom cabin.  Alison Nicholls described some of the challenges of sketching in the bush, some useful techniques to facilitate sketching dynamic beasts that might not care to hold a pose, and the handy tools that allow her to sketch on the go.  We also discussed Alison's Conservation Sketching Expeditions and how she uses her art to support conservation projects like the Painted Dog Conservation project in Zimbabwe and the African People & Wildlife Fund in Tanzania.  Then, with Alison's guidance, the group joined the WCC's Ambassador wolves to get started on their sketches.   Alawa and Zephyr were wonderful models.  They posed by the fence, in the tall grass, and up upon their tall rock - they even sang a few notes for every now and then.  By workshop's end, everyone had several sketches, photos, and memories to hold them over until their next visit to the WCC.

To learn more about how you can join Alison Nicholls on Art Safari in September- you can read all about it in Africa Geographic Safari.  You can join Alison's exhibition, "Lions, Livestock & Living Walls," featuring Alison's field sketches, studio paintings and information about African People & Wildlife Fund in Tanzania.  The exhibit will be on display in Rye, New York from July 3 - August 24 and you can join Alison for the Artists' Reception and short talk on July 9 at 6.30pm.  More info.

Friday, June 7, 2013

USFWS Formally Proposes Nationwide Gray Wolf Delisting

It's Official

Last month we welcomed a reprieve for gray wolves when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that the  proposed nationwide delisting of wolves in lower 48 had been delayed indefinitely. Wildlife advocacy organizations, scientific communities, and some members of Congress celebrated  this short lived victory until just hours ago when USFWS formally resurrected the controversial gray wolf delisting proposal.

The Proposal

The USFWS plans to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the contiguous United States. Federal ESA protections would remain only for the small population of Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) in the desert Southwest.  Between 2011 and 2012, ESA protections had already been lifted from gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountain states of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the western Great Lake states of Minnesota,  Wisconsin, and Michigan, and some 1,600 wolves have since been killed by hunters and trappers in those states. While today's delsiting proposal will not directly impact wolves in these areas, the small number of wolves on the West Coast and wolves that have slowly been moving back into historically occupied areas like the southern Rocky Mountains and Northeast may never recover if this plan is implemented.

What about Wolves in the Northeast?

Another interesting wrinkle is that the proposal includes plan to promote the eastern wolf (Canis lupus lycaon) to a distinct species (Canis lycaon).
There are three species of wolves in the world: the gray wolf (Canis lupus), the red wolf (Canis rufus), and the Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) sometimes referred to as the Abyssinian wolf. Scientists debate whether the Ethiopian wolf is a true wolf or a member of the jackal family (Canis aureus). It's not uncommon for debate to surround the classification or status of a species, but for years most scientists have recognized that there are five subspecies of the gray wolf in North America:

- Canis lupus baileyi - the Mexican wolf or lobo.
- Canis lupus nubilus - the Great Plains or buffalo wolf.
- Canis lupus occidentalis - the Canadian or Rocky Mountain wolf.
- Canis lupus arctos - the arctic wolf
- Canis lupus lycaon - the eastern or Algonquin wolf.

In recent years, scientists have presented data indicating that Canis lupus lycaon, the eastern timber wolf, may be a distinct species, Canis lycaon, and the USFWS delisting proposal will classify these wolves as such. There is growing evidence suggesting that gray wolves are attempting to naturally re-colonize the Northeastern U.S. from neighboring populations in Canada.  But can this newly-recognized species recover successfully if denied ESA protections under the proposed rule?

What's Next?

The USFWS's premature delisting proposal is open for public comment for the next 90 days. Information on how to provide comments will be made available on the USFWS’s wolf information page at
More to come.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A New Pack in the Hood

Today our friends from Companion Pictures production company came to the Wolf Conservation Center to capture the wolves and our efforts to safeguard their wild kin on film!  The day was really fun, the WCC and Companion Picture teams have great synergy.  We share an admiration for teamwork, thus a connection to the "pack."  We can't wait to see how their wild day translates on film!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

"Only a mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf."  

~ Aldo Leopold

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mexican Wolf Recovery Efforts and Challenges published a great editorial and video about Mexican gray wolves, the efforts to recover them, and the unnatural challenges they face on the wild landscape.  The video reflects the measures taken to return the critically endangered Mexican wolf to its ancestral landscape in the southwest and the viewpoint of ranchers in the community. Is Ranchers' entitlement hurting the population? Those in the video want wolves dead and would shoot one themselves. Two Mexican wolves have been released to the wild from the Wolf Conservation Center, one in 2006 and the other on 2008, and each wolf had only a few months to enjoy their rightful place in the wild before being shot and killed. These crimes have a choke-hold on wolf recovery and it's more important than ever that fellow citizens and decision makers voice their support for Mexican gray wolves. The wolves are ready and the wild is calling. We need to do better at giving wolves a chance.

Read the editorial and watch the video here.

A great way to support wolves and their recovery is by writing a Letter to the Editor.  Here are some tips you will help you to write a more effective letter, and increase your chances of getting published.    How to write your letter.
Submit  your letter to here.