Monday, September 30, 2013

Help America's Wolves - Oppose the Nationwide Delisting Today

The Washington DC #StandforWolves Rally is happening now! Wildlife advocates of all ages have come out to show their support for America's wolves.

If you cannot be there in person, please take action online. Wolves nationwide urgently need your help. Over 1700 wolves have already been killed since Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections were lifted in six states in 2011, and now U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) plans to strip Federal protections from nearly all gray wolves nationwide.  If  USFWS carries out their nationwide delisting proposal, the agency will be dismissing America’s support of wolf recovery and scientists with expertise in conservation biology who warn the delisting rule is premature.  For the sake of wolves and the environment, we must continue to urge USFWS not to kill 40 years of recovery. We only have until October 28th to submit comments so please act today!  The National Wolfwatcher Coalition offers effective talking points here. COMMENT HERE.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Would You Pay $19 To Kill a Wolf?

 

Would you Pay $19 To Kill a Wolf?

In Montana, 6000 people just did.

Montana’s general wolf season opened September 15th with much looser rules than in past years. Lower license fees, a five-wolf per person "bag limit" (disgraceful way to reference the killing of any living thing) and a longer season top the list of changes made for the 2012-2013 season. As of last week, an estimated 6,000 state residents purchased wolf licenses for just $19 apiece. Out-of-state licenses were dropped from $250 to $50.

National Parks Service estimates that wolf watchers bring $35M tourism dollars to the greater Yellowstone area annually. The ecological value of the keystone species remains ignored, and now the economical benefit as well.



On June 7, 2013, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) officially announced its plan to strip Federal protections from nearly all gray wolves nationwide. The Endangered Species Act requires that species listing decisions are governed by the best available science. Unfortunately, it was with political and economic considerations at the helm that USFWS declared gray wolves as recovered. USFWS ignores America’s support of wolf recovery and scientists with expertise in conservation biology who warn the delisting rule is premature.

Please watch and share Center for Biological Diversity’s video, and #StandForWolves by opposing USFWS’s nationwide delisting plan. You can take action online or in person:
  • Submit your comment online: You can find useful talking points and the comment to submission link HERE.
  • Join the WCC at the Center for Biological Diversity‘s DC Rally before the public hearing on the nationwide wolf delisting on September 30th.
  • WHERE: Department of Interior Headquarters, 1849 C St. NW, Washington, DC 20240
  • WHEN: Monday, Sept. 30 — the rally begins at 3:45 p.m., the hearing at 6 p.m.
  • RSVP HERE.
Thank you!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wolf Conservation Center Mourns Mexican Gray Wolf M805



It is with great sadness that we share the news of the death of a special wolf that many of us “knew” yet rarely saw. Mexican Gray Wolf M805 passed away yesterday. 

M805 was 10 years old and had called the Wolf Conservation Center home since his transfer from the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, MO four years ago.  In the fall of 2010, M805 was paired with Mexican wolf F837 in hopes that the couple would produce pups.  Because the entire existing Mexican wolf population is descended from just 7 founders rescued from extinction, genetic health is the primary consideration governing  reproductive pairings.  M805 and F837 had a low inbreeding coefficient thus the two were given the opportunity to breed for three consecutive years.  Although the pair failed to ever prove fruitful, via webcam they helped a global audience 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.

M805's health declined rapidly over the course of a few days.  Norwalk Veterinary Hospital's Dr Charlie Duffy DVM confirmed he was in kidney failure. We attempted to give the listless lobo supportive therapy but he didn’t respond as we had hoped. M805 was euthanized yesterday morning.

"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

Our hearts go out to those of you who M805 had unknowingly touched.

R.I.P. M805.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom



"Nature never deceives us; it is we who deceive ourselves." 
 ~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Who is the Lobo

 
 Who is the Lobo?
The Mexican gray wolf or “lobo” is the southernmost and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in the North America. In the late 1800s, there was a national movement to eradicate wolves from the wild landscape. Wolves were trapped, shot, and poisoned. Bounties were paid. By the mid-1900s, Mexican wolves had become extinct in the wild.

 
Who is the Lobo?
Once numbering in the thousands, Mexican gray wolves thrived in the United States throughout southeastern Arizona, southern New Mexico, western Texas; and also across the border in northern Mexico. Lobos are smaller than their northern kin in the Rocky Mountains, Midwest, Alaska and Canada. Weighing between 50 and 85 pounds, they are the smallest subspecies of the gray wolf in North America. Mexican wolf packs are relatively small, consisting of an adult alpha pair, a couple of yearlings, and that pups of the year. Prehistorically, wolf populations were likely stable and limited predominately by prey numbers. Human-caused mortality caused the near extinction of Mexican wolves and remains the primary reason that they remain critically endangered today.

 
Who is the Lobo?
Wolves are carnivores. As predators, they must hunt other animals in order to survive. When Mexican wolves were exterminated in the wild southwest, mule deer populations rose. The overabundance of deer resulted in habitat degradation. By regulating grazing and browsing wildlife populations and affecting prey behavior, wolves safeguard the habitat, enable many other species to flourish, & allow the system to support a natural level of biodiversity. Changes in Mexican wolf populations have trickle-down effects on other populations, a scientific phenomenon known as a “trophic cascade,” and certifiable indicator that wolves are an ESSENTIAL piece of the landscape.

 
 Who is the Lobo?
Fifteen years ago 11 captive-reared Mexican gray were released to the wild for the first time in the Blue Range Recovery Area – a small portion of their ancestral home in the wild southwest. It’s is within this small area that Mexican wolves have struggled for a decade and a half, failing to ever reach the population goal of 100. Artificial boundaries, state politics, and USFWS’s designation of all wild lobos as a “experimental, nonessential” population, have put recovery in a choke-hold.

 
 Who is the Lobo?
I am the lobo. And I need your help.

Although critically endangered Mexican wolves are exempt from this nationwide delisting proposal, they will be subject to other provisions that are very problematic – including the recovery area’s artificial boundaries and their re-designation as an “experimental, nonessential” population.  Now is the time to demand progress – USFWS management actions are urgently required for the long term survival of Mexican gray wolves.
There are 2 ways to take action:
Speaking up on behalf of the lobo is not only crucial to the recovery of the species, it’s also the appropriate action ecologically and morally.  Thank you!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fall Brings Wolf Wardrobe Change



Fall is here bringing shorter days and cooler temperatures! We're not the only ones who change their wardrobe with the seasons, wolves do too! A wolf's coat consists of two elements: the long guard hairs that form the visible outer layer of the coat and the soft dense undercoat. The coarse guard hairs determine a wolf's appearance/color and works like a raincoat, protecting a wolf from rain, snow, and sleet. The undercoat is usually gray in color and keeps the animal comfortable in cold temperatures. A wolf's insulating undercoat begins to fall out like sheets of soft wool in the spring and a fresh under-layer thickens during the fall. The shedding cycle is driven by hormone levels that rise in the spring with the onset of longer days and decrease as day lengths shorten in the fall. Thanks to the photoperiodic rhythm of his body chemistry, Atka is already prepared fall and likely looking forward to even colder temperatures on the horizon. Enjoy the day Atka!

Learn more about why and when wolves shed.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Join the Fight For Wolves

Wolves nationwide urgently need your help. Over 1700 wolves have already been killed since Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections were lifted in six states in 2011, and now U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) plans to strip Federal protections from nearly all gray wolves nationwide. The ESA requires that species listing decisions are governed by the best available science. Unfortunately, it was with political and economic considerations at the helm that USFWS declared gray wolves as recovered. USFWS ignores America's support of wolf recovery and scientists with expertise in conservation biology who warn the delisting rule is premature.

If USFWS carries out their nationwide delisting proposal in spite of the exposure of its anti-wolf bias and the fact that the majority of Americans support wolves as part of our wilderness and heritage, we'll be opening the door to more political assaults on wolves and other imperiled species. Without realizing the serious ecological consequences, we already came close to totally exterminating wolves from the lower 48 states. But the ESA gave us a second chance to right this wrong. Let's not let history repeat itself. The mission is far from accomplished. Delisting now is a political decision. For the sake of wolves, the environment, and the integrity of science, we must continue to urge USFWS not to kill 40 years of recovery.

Please watch and share Center for Biological Diversity's video, and #StandForWolves by opposing USFWS's nationwide delisting plan. You can find useful talking points and the comment submission link HERE. Thank you!

   Thank you Center for Biological Diversity for the video and wolf graphic above.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Some Hope for Mexican Gray Wolf

 

Some hope for Mexican gray wolf

By Michael J. Robinson / Conservation Advocate, Center for Biological Diversity 
Originally published Sun, September 15, 2013 in the Albuquerque Journal.

Despite the recent death of a Mexican gray wolf, dismally familiar news, two legal settlements signed late last month provide hope for the future of this intelligent, social carnivore native to the Southwest and Mexico.

One settlement agreement between the Center for Biological Diversity and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protects wolves that may lope northward into our southern borderlands from Mexico.
When Mexican authorities began releasing lobos in 2011, the service issued itself a permit, with no opportunity for public comment, to live-trap and indefinitely incarcerate wolves emanating from the south if viewed as threats to livestock. Ranchers bore no responsibility to take proactive steps to prevent conflicts. Now the service disclaims authority to trap such fully endangered wolves.

The Center for Biological Diversity’s second settlement agreement requires the service to finalize by Jan. 12, 2015 its proposed rule authorizing release of captive-bred wolves into the Gila National Forest of New Mexico and allowing wolves to roam over a broader area than presently. For 12 years, the service has promised to change its 1998 reintroduction rule to follow scientific recommendations, but never followed through.

Inbreeding resulting from federal trapping and shooting, and a paucity of new releases of wolves (just two since 2007) is causing fewer pups to be born and to thrive. Last year, just three breeding pairs (parents with two or more pups) survived in the Southwest.

Wolves with more diverse genes live in captivity but may only be released within the Apache National Forest in Arizona, where the best habitats already support territorial wolves. (Wolves captured from the wild may be released in either state, but few actually get their freedoms back.)

Meanwhile millions of acres of the Gila, teeming with elk and deer, remain wolfless.

Another reform would open most of Arizona and New Mexico to wolves. In 1998, the Fish and Wildlife Service bound itself to capture any wolf living wholly outside of the Gila and Apache national forests or contiguous tribal or private lands on which the wolves are specifically welcomed (such as the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona).

In 2001, a panel of independent biologists reviewing the reintroduction program for the service recommended “immediately” allowing releases in the Gila and letting wolves roam outside of the current boundaries. A 2006 federal-state interagency review concurred. If they receive enough public support, in one year and four months those reforms will finally occur.

Nevertheless, for political reasons, the proposed rule would require removal of any Mexican wolf crossing Interstate 40, thereby preventing establishment of new populations in the southern Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon ecosystem – regions that scientists say are necessary for recovery. The proposal would also block southward migration across Interstate 10, hindering the breeding of U.S. Mexican wolves with those from Mexico.

The service is also considering creating new loopholes for shooting wolves, including allowing ranchers to kill any and all wolves – even non-depredating animals – on specified private lands where wolves previously killed livestock.

Designating such wolf-kill zones would reward wolf-haters who leave the carcasses of cattle for wolves to scavenge, leading the wolves to begin hunting stock and other wolves to also pay the price with their lives.

The 2001 scientific panel called it “essential to successful recovery” that livestock owners using public land be required to assume some responsibility for removing livestock carcasses or rendering them inedible, since “scavenging may predispose wolves to eventually prey on livestock.”
Now the public has a chance to weigh in. By testifying at a Fish and Wildlife Service hearing from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Oct. 4 at 1000 Woodward Place NE in Albuquerque, you can support changes that will help the Mexican wolf recover.

The science has shown that Mexican gray wolves need trap-free trails, respite from bullets, more mates and more healthy puppies. We owe it to them.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Critically Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf Leaves Westchester, NY for a Wild Future


Mexican Wolf M1141 in His Travel Crate
SEPTEMBER 18, 2013 - SOUTH SALEM, NY. – As a part of ongoing efforts to reintroduce critically endangered Mexican gray wolves into a portion of their ancestral home in the United States southwest and northern Mexico, a captive wolf from the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) left his Westchester home today to catch a flight that will bring him to his future "bride." The Mexican wolf is en route to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) Sevilleta Management facility in New Mexico.  This is the first step leading to the wolf's most adventurous chapter - a life on the wild landscape of Sonora, Mexico. 
 


Mexican Wolf M1141 at Two Months Old

M1141 was born at the WCC in 2008, and although an average of 9,000 guests visit the WCC annually, visitors have never seen him. M1141 is among 14 wolves that live off-exhibit within the WCC's 16-acre Endangered Species Facility - a natural environment where these incredibly elusive creatures can reside with minimal human contact. This setting and a strict diet of whole carcass road killed deer safeguards their natural behavior and best prepares them for a wild future.

The Mexican gray wolf or “lobo” (Canis lupus baileyi) is the southernmost and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in the North America. Once numbering in the thousands, the native species once roamed freely throughout the woodlands of the southwest U.S., and Mexico.  Between 1977 and 1980, the last five known wild Mexican wolves in the world were captured in Mexico and used to initiate a captive breeding program.


Mexican wolf reintroduction efforts began fifteen years ago, on March 28, 1998, when 11 captive-reared Mexican gray were released to the wild for the first time in a small portion in the wild southwest.  Because the entire existing Mexican wolf population is derived from such a limited founding population, genetic health is the primary consideration governing reproductive pairings and captive-to-wild release events. Both M11411 and his soon-to-be mate have genetic characteristics that will enhance the free-ranging wolf population currently in the wild. "With this release, we are attempting to establish a breeding wolf population in Mexico and also expand the genetic diversity of the wild population,” explained WCC curator Rebecca Bose.

The Mexican wolf remains one of North America’s most endangered mammals. Currently there are only 2 wild wolves living in Mexico and the end of 2012, only an estimated 75 Mexican wolves remained in the United States. Mexican wolves have struggled for a decade and a half, failing to come close to reaching the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan's population goal of 100.  According to WCC director Maggie Howell, "Artificial boundaries, state politics, illegal killings and USFWS's designation of all wild lobos as an 'experimental, nonessential' population, have put  recovery in a choke-hold.  So the release of these two lobos is an exciting step in the right direction!  We're all incredibly honored to be able to help these wolves resume their rightful place in the wild."  

The wolf pair  will not remain in New Mexico long, in coming weeks they'll be transferred to their final stop before receiving the "call of the wild," a pre-release facility in Mexico, Rancho La Mesa.  M1141 is the third Mexican wolf from the WCC to be chosen for release into the wild.




 

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

“In my opinion, we don’t devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks.” - Calvin and Hobbes

Monday, September 16, 2013

Women and Wolves


The Animal News Hour's inaugural show, "Women Helping Wolves Live," features seven women, including Wolf Conservation Center's Maggie Howell, and their thoughts  re: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) nationwide gray wolf delisting proposal and rule changes that threaten Mexican wolf recovery.  Show host David Forjan asked the women to speak as is they were commenting directly to Secretary of Interior Sally Jewel on behalf of America's gray wolves. 

In alphabetical order, listen to:

Beckie Elgin, Wolf Advocate and Writer, author of that wonderful blog, Wolves and Writing

Jill Fritz, Michigan State Director of the HSUS and Director of Keeping Michigan Wolves Protected

Alyssa Grayson, 12 yrs. old, Junior Advocate for the National Wolfwatcher Coalition

Maggie Howell, Executive Director of the Wolf Conservation Center

Wendy Keefover, Carnivore Protection Program Director for WildEarth Guardians

Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies Representative for Defenders of Wildlife

Amaroq Weiss, West Coast Wolf Organizer for The Center For Biological Diversity

FREE on iTunes here!

What would you say?  Don't only tell us, tell USFWS!

USFWS’s Public Hearings Schedule

  • September 30 – 6PM-8:30PM- Washington, DC – at the Department of the Interior Auditorium (1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, DC)
  • October 2 – 6-8:30PM – Sacramento, CA -  at the Clarion Inn (Martinique Ball Room, 1401 Arden Way, Sacramento, CA)
  • October 4 – 6-9PM  – Albuquerque, NM – at the Embassy Suites Hotel (10004 Woodward Place NE, Albuquerque, NM)   -  This hearing offers the only opportunity to comment on Mexican wolves!
The Wolf Conservation Center will be attending the hearings in Washington, DC and Albuquerque, NM, and we hope we can meet you there!  For those unable to attend any of the hearings, please #StandForWolves and comment online today!
  • Submit comments to USFWS re: Nationwide Delisting Plan HERE
  • Submit comments on Rules Governing Mexican Wolf Recovery HERE

Thursday, September 12, 2013

#StandForWolves - Only 3 Opportunities to Comment in Person

On June 7, 2013, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) officially announced proposals that will impact the future of America's gray wolves. 

Nationwide Delisting Proposal

USFWS's proposes to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the contiguous United States. USFWS is gauging gray wolf recovery solely on the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes wolf populations. Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 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 traveling miles south into the southern Rocky Mountain states of Utah and Colorado, and accounts wolf OR-7, becoming a media sensation when as California's first wolf 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 ESA let our country give wolves a second chance.  With second chances so hard to come by, should we be willing to throw them away? USFWS offers us three chances to voice our opposition in person.  Please scroll down for details.

Proposed  Rules for Mexican Wolf Reintroduction & Recovery


Although critically endangered Mexican wolves are exempt from this nationwide delisting proposal, they will be subject to other provisions that are very problematic – including the recovery area's artificial boundaries and their re-designation as an “experimental, nonessential” population.
USFWS's own Mexican wolf science team emphasize that the Mexican gray wolf’s long-term survival requires connected habitats north of the expanded recovery zone including the Grand Canyon region and portions of southern Utah and Colorado. But under the proposed rule,  any wolf that disperses to these areas will be recaptured by USFWS and then moved whether territories are established or not. Capturing and moving wolves is always very risky, Mexican wolves too often die during routine USFWS management activities.

USFWS designates all wild Mexican gray wolves an “experimental, nonessential” population.  This designation suggests that if all wild Mexican wolves are killed, this would not negatively impact recovery because wild wolf genes were well represented in captivity.
But scientists warn that prolonged captivity can cause genetic, physical, or behavioral changes.  Captive Mexican wolves are bred annually, so the number of generations in captivity is growing.  This coupled with infrequent captive-to-wild release events  is expected to cause adverse effects on the genetic integrity of the captive population that may result in suppressed litter size, reduced pup survival, and lower success in breeding.  So what scientists are discovering is that recovery cannot exist in captivity alone.

Limited Opportunities to Comment in Person

We have only one opportunity to comment in person about Mexican gray wolves and three chances to voice  opposition to the  nationwide gray wolf delisting proposal.  Now is your time to literally #StandForWolves and comment in person to safeguard the future of our Nation's most misunderstood predator.

USFWS's Public Hearings Schedule

  • September 30 - 6PM-8:30PM- Washington, DC - at the Department of the Interior Auditorium (1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, DC)
  • October 2 - 6-8:30PM - Sacramento, CA -  at the Clarion Inn (Martinique Ball Room, 1401 Arden Way, Sacramento, CA)
  • October 4 - 6-9PM  - Albuquerque, NM - at the Embassy Suites Hotel (10004 Woodward Place NE, Albuquerque, NM)   -  This hearing offers the only opportunity to comment on Mexican wolves!
The Wolf Conservation Center will be attending the hearings in Washington, DC and Albuquerque, NM, and we hope we can meet you there!  For those unable to attend any of the hearings, please #StandForWolves and comment online today!
  • Submit comments to USFWS re: Nationwide Delisting Plan HERE
  • Submit comments on Rules Governing Mexican Wolf Recovery HERE






Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

 

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." ~ Jimi Hendrix

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Lobos: An Essential Piece Of the Southwest Landscape


The Mexican gray wolf or “lobo” (Canis lupus baileyi) is the southernmost and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in the North America.  In the late 1800s, there was a national movement to  eradicate wolves and other large predators from the wild landscape in the United States. Wolves were trapped, shot, and poisoned.  Bounties were paid. By the mid-1900s, Mexican wolves had become extinct in the wild.

When Mexican wolves were exterminated in the wild southwest, mule deer populations rose. The overabundance of deer resulted in habitat degradation.  By regulating grazing and browsing wildlife populations and affecting prey behavior, wolves safeguard the habitat, enable many other species to flourish, & allow the system  to support a natural level of biodiversity. Changes in Mexican wolf populations have trickle-down effects on other populations, a scientific phenomenon known as a “trophic cascade,” and certifiable indicator that wolves are an ESSENTIAL piece of the landscape.

As a participant in the Mexican gray wolf Species Survival and Recovery Plan and home to 14 critically endangered lobos, our efforts to conserve this wolf is priority. Please join the #iamessential movement and tell USFWS that it is imperative that USFWS designates the remaining 75 wild lobos as essential population. It's crucial to the recovery of the rare species and the health of their ecosystem. Lobos depend up this re-designation, we cannot allow industry and recreation govern the recovery of North America's most endangered wolf.

Speak up for lobos online or in person:
  • #ineedyouinABQ! Submit your comment in person in Albuquerque on October 4, 2013: More info about the hearing here.
Thank you!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Join the #iamessential Movement for Lobos


The Mexican gray wolf or "lobo" (Canis lupus baileyi) is the southernmost and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in the North America.  In the late 1800s, there was a national movement to  eradicate wolves and other large predators from the wild landscape in the United States. Wolves were trapped, shot and poisoned.  Bounties were paid. By the mid-1900s, Mexican wolves had been effectively exterminated in the wild here in our country.

With the only lobos remaining in captivity, the Mexican wolf was listed by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as an endangered species in 1976. USFWS founded the Mexican Wolf Recovery Team shortly thereafter and prepared the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, which contains the following objective:

“To conserve and ensure the survival of C. l. baileyi by maintaining a captive breeding program and re-establishing a viable, self-sustaining population of at least 100 Mexican wolves in the middle to high elevations of a 5,000-square mile area within the Mexican wolf’s historic range.”

Fifteen years ago 11 captive-reared Mexican gray were released to the wildfor the first time in the Blue Range Recovery Area – a small portion of their ancestral home in the wild southwest. It’s is within this small area that Mexican wolves have struggled for a decade and a half, failing to ever reach the population goal of 100.  Artificial boundaries, state politics, and USFWS's designation of all wild lobos as a “experimental, nonessential” population, have put  recovery in a choke-hold.  Now is the time to demand progress – management actions are urgently required for the long term survival of Mexican gray wolves.

Although Mexican gray wolves are exempt from USFWS’s nationwide delsiting proposal, lobos will be subject to other provisions that are very problematic – like their re-designation as an “experimental, nonessential” population.

This designation means that if all 75 wild lobos are killed, this will not negatively impact lobo recovery because lobo genes are well represented in captivity.  This is absurd.

In 1998, there were only 11 wild lobos (all released from captivity) when USFWS's declared the wild population “nonessential,” and they made up only 7% of all Mexican wolves in the world. Now the 75 wolves in the wild have up to four generations of experience in establishing packs and raising pups and represent 22% of all Mexican wolves in the world.

As a participant in the Mexican gray wolf Species Survival and Recovery Plan and home to 14 critically endangered lobos, our efforts to conserve this wolf is priority. Please join the #iamessential movement and tell USFWS that recovery cannot exist in captivity alone.  It is imperative that USFWS designates the wild population as essential and that additional captive-to-wild releases occur ASAP.  Lobo recovery and genetic health depends up these management steps.

It's not only crucial to the recovery of the species that wild Mexican wolves be designated as essential, it's also the appropriate designation ecologically and morally.

Speak up for lobos online or in person:
  • #ineedyouinABQ! Submit your comment in person in Albuquerque on October 4, 2013: More info about the hearing here
Thank you!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Canis Loopty-Lupus?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom


"Keep not standing fixed and rooted. Briskly venture, briskly roam."
~ Goethe

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Rocky Mountain Tragedy...Revisited

A message about a  sobering milestone ...



As a wildlife education organization we celebrate when a species is delisted from the Endangered Species Act because it signifies that the species has recovered biologically.  As advocates for wolves, however, our celebration was short lived.

When the wolves of the Northern Rockies were delisted in 2011, it marked the first time in history when a species was removed from the Endangered Species List via Congressional action rather than federally mandated scientific analysis.  Since then over 1,000 wolves - almost half the population in the Northern Rockies - have been killed as a result of increasingly aggressive state management plans in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming which call for large reductions in wolf populations via recreational hunting and trapping seasons.

The value and importance of conserving species and ensuring biodiversity is an accepted axiom of the 21st century. The importance of a keystone predator such as the gray wolf to a balanced ecosystem is undeniable. That our policies would and should be motivated by these basic scientific principles seems sound. However, not surprisingly, there are serious cultural and political realities that continue to affect the future of wolf in America's West.
Presently, state wildlife agencies in charge of conserving and protecting our wildlife are funded almost exclusively by hunter license fees and an excise tax on the sale of guns, ammunition and archery equipment (the "Pittman-Robertson Act").  This funding structure persists today virtually unchanged since the 1930's. And, as expected, at the heart of almost all wildlife conservation policies are the interests of the hunting and gun buying public.

Since conservation laws were developed in the 1930's, at a time when preventing uncontrolled hunting was the objective, little attention was given to the notion that animals have intrinsic worth, are essential to biodiversity or that game and non-game animals alike are needed for a balanced ecosystem. Tragically, we acknowledge that "conservation" is a misnomer in today's American wildlife agency system. And, the mandate to safeguard our wildlife for the public at large is a virtual impossibility under the present system.

The wolf controversy is a prime example of the complexities at play.  Once wolf management was passed from the federal government to the state wildlife agencies, the states picked up where they left off in the 1930's and, once again, they became exclusively beholden to their local hunting communities and other special interests. On the other hand, the interests of a new generation of educated stakeholders, those who value the ecological and economic importance of wolves and other predators in the American West, are undeniably ignored.

A recent flurry of new state bills through the Northern Rockies and neighboring states have been introduced seeking to reduce the wolf populations even more.  Instead of letting nature strike its own balance between predator and prey, these states choose to manipulate the population of wolves in order to grow more game - elk and deer - a practice in direct conflict with how wildlife should be managed.  It is ethically and scientifically wrong to manipulate the population of one species to benefit the hunting of another. And, yet, as long as state wildlife agencies are funded exclusively by hunters and the gun-buying public, these and other unsound practices will enable the  Northern Rockies to remain a managed game farm for hunters.
Presently, there are approximately 305 million people in our nation and only 6% of them (37 million people) buy hunting licenses; the vast majority of people do not hunt.  Nearly 72 million (9% of the nation's population) engage in wildlife-watching activities nationwide.  Ironically, the region with wildlife watching rates well above the national average includes the Mountain States - wolf populated states - at 13%.  Wolf-populated states are part of the national economy, and non-resident tourism and wildlife watching have become one of the largest growing industries in the Northern Rockies region. It supports hundreds of thousands of jobs regionally. 

Compounding the effects of these demographic trends is the fact that while hunting is a seasonal activity, wildlife watchers/tourists, photographers, outdoor enthusiasts, etc. can provide states with a much more reliable, year round source of revenue. They comprise a broader base of resident and nonresident consumers who are eager and willing to assist in the funding of state wildlife agencies.
The wildlife in this country is owned by its citizens. This legal concept implies that we all share equal, undivided interests in our wild animals. The government holds wildlife in trust for our benefit and is empowered to manage it for the public good.

Until legislative changes in the structure and funding of hunter-dominated state wildlife agencies are implemented - policies that more appropriately reflect the most current peer reviewed science and the changing demographic trends in our nation - wolves and other predators are doomed to the same fate as when they were exterminated to the brink of extinction.

Diane Bentivegna
Wolf Conservation Center Advisory Board Member

Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy Labor Day