Monday, March 31, 2014

Nearly 500,000 More Americans Speak Out Against Federal Plan to Strip Wolves of Protections


Scientific Peer Review Questioning Wolf Proposal Prompts Many to Write Administration
WASHINGTON - More than 460,000 Americans filed official comments calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to scrap its controversial proposal to remove federal protections from the gray wolf and instead work to advance wolf recovery in the United States. A scientific peer review released in early February 2014 unanimously concluded that a federal plan to drop protections for most gray wolves was not based on the best available science.
These new comments and the results of the scientific peer review follow on the heels of the submission of approximately one million comments in late 2013 requesting that FWS continue to protect gray wolves. These comments represent the highest number of submissions ever to FWS on an endangered species, showing America’s overwhelming support for the charismatic wolf.
“When it comes to taking the wolf off of the endangered species list, Secretary Jewell told the public, ‘It’s about the science. And you do what the science says.’ It’s now time to stand by both her stated commitment to follow science and the will of the American people. She must immediately rescind the wolf delisting rule,” said Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “As the top official in charge of wildlife and wild places, Secretary Jewell should ensure that gray wolves have the chance to fully recover wherever there is suitable habitat. Policy decisions about wolves and other wildlife should be based on the best science, not politics.”
“Science should be the lynchpin of every species listing decision and science should be the most significant factor guiding decisions on what ‘recovery’ looks like for our nation’s imperiled plants and animals,” said Defenders of Wildlife President Jamie Rappaport Clark. “The Fish and Wildlife Service should withdraw the delisting proposal for wolves and instead put science first to chart a sustainable recovery path for wolves throughout the U.S.”
“It’s time for the Obama administration to acknowledge what a growing number of Americans and our top scientists see very clearly -- America’s gray wolves still need federal protection,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “That’s what the public comment period and scientific peer review is all about – to make sure we get it right when it comes to protecting our most imperiled species. Now the only question is whether the Obama administration will follow the science or the politics.”
There were once up to 2 million gray wolves living in North America, but the animals were driven to near-extinction in the lower 48 states by the early 1900s. After passage of the federal Endangered Species Act in 1973 and protection of the wolf as endangered, federal recovery programs resulted in the rebound of wolf populations in limited parts of the country. Roughly 5,500 wolves currently live in the continental United States -- a fraction of the species’ historic numbers.
“Instead of restoring wolves to their rightful places from coast to coast -- as it did for bald eagles – the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to abandon wolf recovery before the job is done,” said Marty Hayden, Earthjustice vice-president for policy and legislation. “More than a million people have now told FWS to go back to work and protect our wolves.”
Last year the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves across most of the lower 48 states. The Obama administration’s proposal would remove protections for wolves everywhere except Arizona and New Mexico, where the Mexican wolf is struggling to survive with just 83 wolves in the wild.  This proposal would abandon protections for wolves in places where recovery remains in its infancy, such as Oregon and Washington, and would prevent wolves from recovering in places where good wolf habitat has been identified, including northern California, the southern Rocky Mountains and the Northeast.
Nicole Paquette, vice president of wildlife protection for The Humane Society of the United States said: “After the federal government prematurely gave up its duty to protect wolves, the states of Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin and Wyoming all rushed to hold hunting and trapping seasons. Thousands of wolves have been barbarically killed over bait, with hounds and cable neck snares. The Service’s proposal puts politics over its obligation to use the best available science, and threatens wolves with the risk of being driven back to near extinction.”
“Oregon wolves have taken the first tentative steps towards recovery in the last few years," said Sean Stevens, executive director with Oregon Wild. "If the Obama administration takes away the strong protections of the Endangered Species Act, we pull the rug out from the fragile success story here on the West Coast and leave the fate of wolves in the hands of state agencies in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming who have proven incapable of balanced management."
"We have unique opportunities and challenges here in the Northeast," said Maggie Howell, Wolf Conservation Center. "The Northeast Wolf Coalition is working together using the most current peer reviewed science to raise awareness and increase public understanding about wolves.  A broad base of public support is necessary for wolves to recover and we remain committed to ensuring that stakeholders become active stewards in that regard. There are biological, economic and ethical reasons to facilitate wolf recovery  and the Coalition is eager to work with area residents, organizations, and state and federal agencies  to promote the wolf's natural return to our region."
"More than one million American’s have made their views clear to the Service: A large majority of the public want wolves back on the landscape and it’s too premature to hand over management to states where the trap and bullet still define predator management,” said Camilla Fox, Project Coyote founder & executive director.  “It’s time that the Service employ best science and not allow special interests to dictate wolf management in this country."
“Removing protections from the wolf makes it difficult for national parks like Olympic and Crater Lake to be as wild and wonderful as they should be,” said Rob Smith, Northwest Regional Director for National Parks Conservation Association.  “The parks need wolves and visitors want them there.”
When a young person asked Interior Secretary Jewell about wolves in a public forum in June 2013, Jewell replied, “[The removal of Endangered Species Act protections] is not something I actually have a choice (sic). It’s about science and you do what the science says.” See the video here: http://www.endangered.org/its-about-science/
The group Kids 4 Wolves followed that with their own amazing video,http://www.endangered.org/kids-to-secretary-jewell-follow-the-science/. The video features children from across the country urging Sec. Jewell to follow the science and keep wolves protected under the Endangered Species Act.
The independent scientific peer review released in early February was commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and conducted by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. The panel of independent scientists concluded unanimously that FWS’s national wolf delisting rule does not currently represent the “best available science.” In light of these findings, FWS’s proposed delisting rule contravenes the Endangered Species Act, which mandates that protection decisions must be based on the best available science.
“The effort to cut legal protections for wolves ran headlong into actual science and lost”, said Andrew Wetzler, Director of Land and Wildlife Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It is time for the Fish & Wildlife Service to rethink their effort. And this new flood of comments shows the public will be watching the Obama Administration and expect the science to end this delisting campaign”.
In addition to the nearly half a million comments submitted by the American public in recent weeks, ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee Peter DeFazio (D-OR) released a bipartisan letter co-signed by 73 House members urging Secretary Jewell to continue protections for gray wolves and rescind the proposed delisting rule immediately.
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California Wolf Center * Cascadia Wildlands * Center for Biological Diversity * Defenders of Wildlife Earthjustice * Epic-Environmental Protection Information Center * Endangered Species Coalition Humane Society of the United States * Klamath Forest Alliance * Living with Wolves * National Parks Conservation Association * Natural Resources Defense Council * Northeast Oregon Ecosystems Oregon Wild * Project Coyote * Western Watersheds Project * WildEarth Guardians * Wildlands Network * Wolf Conservation Center

Wolf Conservation Center Preps for Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf Pups



The Mexican gray wolf or “lobo” is America's most endangered gray wolf. At last count only 83 remained in the wild and over 250 lobos live in captivity. The captive lobo population is currently hosted by a network of organizations in both the United States and Mexico participating in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (MWSSP). A Species Survival Plan (SSP) is a breeding and management program designed to ensure the long-term sustainability of captive-based animal populations. The primary goal for the MWSSP is to breed wolves for maximum genetic integrity for reintroduction into both the United States and Mexico. Organizations participating in the MWSSP are tasked with housing and caring for the wolves, collaborating in the captive breeding program, sharing observations and recommendations for release, and engaging in the sometimes unusual and often controversial efforts to save the species. This spring the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) will be taking extraordinary measures that the MWSSP deems necessary in order to aid the recovery of this critically endangered wolf.


In order to maintain genetic diversity within the Mexican wolf population, the MWSSP management group determines which captive lobos will be permitted to breed by using software developed for the population management of endangered species. Wolf unions are chosen based on the genetic “value” of the individuals and the benefits their potential offspring would contribute to the diversity of their rare species. The ideal pairings have the lowest inbreeding coefficient and produce offspring that will best enhance the wild lobo gene pool. Because the entire existing Mexican wolf population descended from just seven founders rescued from extinction, genetic health is the primary consideration governing all wolf pairings.


Mexican wolf F749 is among twelve lobos who reside off-exhibit at the WCC and she is the most genetically valuable individual in the program. She's one of the most prolific wolves in the MWSSP as well. Sadly, F749 has lost several litters in her 12 years, and the cause remains unknown. When left in her care, only 2 of her last 19 pups have survived. Due to F749's poor history, the WCC was directed to pull all potential pups within 18 hours after their birth so they can be hand reared and eventually placed with captive lobo foster parents who have successfully raised pups of their own. This will not be the first time the WCC has been directed to take this extraordinary measure. In 2013 we were instructed to follow the same protocol and removed F749's 2 newborn sons. This was a sensitive subject that promoted a good amount of discussion among our staff, volunteers, and supporters.


The WCC would like to assure everybody that we considered all the ramifications of removing the genetically vital pups as soon as we were informed that it had to be done. In no way was this a decision that was taken lightly by any of our staff and volunteers. Nor will this measure be brushed off this year when we follow the same protocol. Knowing that her two sons born last year are still alive, however, is certainly reassuring.




To best prepare for the weeks to come, we gave F749 an ultrasound to see if she is pregnant, and if so, determine the size of her potential litter. Thanks to Dr. Emilia Wood from Quarry Ridge Animal Hospital, we were able to confirm that F749 is carrying at least 4 pups, all with strong heartbeats. Next we'll discuss with the MWSSP management group the surrogate options so we can best prepare.


Participating in animal husbandry, and especially species survival, means making tough decisions. The WCC feels it's important that our supporters know about such decisions, which is why we are making the process public and providing an unlimited number of webcam viewers to enter the private lives of this elusive pair. It's our hope that our candor increases awareness of this critically endangered wolf species, our efforts to recover them, and promotes meaningful dialog among our supporters and within the network of facilities participating in the MWSSP.



In coming weeks we hope to announce the birth of robust litter from F749, but it will be bitter sweet knowing that it's extremely unlikely that she'll a part of their development. It takes tough and sometimes heart breaking decisions to preserve a species. We can only hope that F749 and M804 realize on some level, that they are a part of something much larger than their pack. They are essential to the recovery of their imperiled species.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Global Howls of Support for the Lobo


The Wolf Conservation Center invited you to join #LoboWeek, a national movement to celebrate the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf, and you heard our howls!

With your support, the WCC raised over $16,000 in our #LoboWeek fundraising campaign! We are humbled by your support and incredibly grateful for the generous matching grant provided by Amy Wendel & Dan Meisel which gave yesterday’s gifts an even bigger impact. Thank you and happy #LoboWeek! 

Please enjoy this amazing #Loboweek video produced by WCC supporter Melissa Di Nino!



Thank you and happy #LoboWeek!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mountains Understand Lobos. Can We?



Sixteen years ago 11 captive-reared Mexican wolves were released to the wild for the first time in the Blue Range Recovery Area of Arizona and New Mexico. Missing from the landscape for more than 30 years, the howl of the rarest and most unique subspecies of gray wolf was once again greeted by the mountains of the southwest. My 6-yr-old daughter and I visited those very mountains last summer. Our mission, to camp in the current lobo recovery area and learn more about America’s most endangered wolf.

While camping in Arizona’s Apache National Forest, we didn’t see a single wolf, not even a trace. Although our campground was within the Bluestem pack’s territory, neither of us was surprised. Wolves are shy and elusive creatures. I was surprised, however, at the number of cows we saw mingling among the dense pine and Aspen trees right there on the wild landscape. My daughter thought they were cute.



On our final day, we revisited the site that inspired some of Aldo Leopold’s most powerful words from his essay “Thinking Like a Mountain.” And as we stood on the very spot where this most influential conservation thinker of the twentieth century “reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes,” it was difficult to fend off emotions of sadness, gratitude, and understanding. Is it possible that Leopold had realized the impact his words would have? As we sat where he long ago came to realize the importance of the lobo, I felt as if he had then imagined us walking in his footsteps to behold the inspiration of his revelation. I explained to my daughter why the view was more than breathtaking, and without many words, she seemed to grasp its significance.

“Without wolves, the mountain is sick,” she explained. “The mountain needs wolves.”

She got it. Wolves are a critical keystone species in a healthy ecosystem. By regulating prey populations, wolves enable many other species of plants and animals to flourish. In this regard, wolves “touch” songbirds, fish, and butterflies. Without predators, such as wolves, the system fails to support a natural level of biodiversity. The mountain gets sick.

“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.” ~ Aldo Leopold 



It’s #Lobooweek, the 16th anniversary of the first releases of Mexican wolves back into the wild. I hope we can all continue to celebrate the new holiday every year and that one day my daughter can return with her children to be greeted by the howls that those mountains will forever understand. But this won’t be possible if we let history repeat itself.

Only 83 Mexican wolves remain in the wild and Arizona lawmakers are poised to worsen the lobo’s already-tenuous plight. The future of Mexican wolves is on shaky ground. Now is the time to right our wrongs of the past. For the sake of wolves, the environment, and future generations to come, it’s key that we take the necessary management actions urgently required for the long term survival of Mexican gray wolves.

Maggie Howell
Wolf Conservation Center Director

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Recovering the Critically Endangered Lobo from Captivity

Mexican Gray Wolf’s Brush with Extinction

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, wild Mexican wolves had been effectively exterminated in North America.

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.  The Endangered Species Act requires the USFWS to develop and implement recovery plans for listed species with the objective to restore species to secure population levels, maintain those levels, and then remove them from the endangered list.  Shortly after listing Mexican wolves as endangered, USFWS collaborated with Mexico to capture all Mexican wolves remaining in the wild.  Five wild Mexican wolves (four males and one pregnant female) were captured alive in Mexico from 1977 to 1980, and these wolves were transferred to the United States to establish a certified captive breeding program.

Recovery Efforts in Captivity

The captive population is currently hosted by a network of organizations in both the United States and Mexico participating in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (MWSSP).  A Species Survival Plan is a breeding and management program designed to ensure the long-term sustainability of captive-based animal populations. The primary goal for the MWSSP is to breed wolves for maximum genetic integrity for reintroduction into both the United States and Mexico.  Organizations participating in the MWSSP are tasked with housing and caring for the wolves, collaborating in the captive breeding program, sharing observations and recommendations for release, and engaging in the sometimes unusual and often controversial measures to save the species.  Recovering the Mexican wolf is a coordinated effort  with zoos, wildlife conservation centers, USFWS, Mexico’s Fish & Wildlife Agencies and managed under the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Presently, there are approximately 400 Mexican gray wolves remaining in the world, the majority living in captivity among 50+ MWSSP facilities.  Every one of these captive endangered wolves is a part of something bigger than their pack or the facilities that house them, they are integral parts of the recovery of their rare species. Many of these wolves contribute as “Ambassadors,” living on view at a variety of zoos throughout the United States and Mexico to help educate people about the importance of their wild counterparts. Some of these animals also contribute to the revitalization of their species as participants of the MWSSP captive breeding program.  Gamete cryopreservation efforts allow even deceased wolves to contribute to Mexican wolf recovery via artificial insemination. The most fortunate fraction of captive wolves, however, contribute as candidates for release into the wild.


Please enjoy this video about the Wolf Conservation Center’s captive efforts to help a critically endangered species recover.

The Mexican Wolf from Lincoln Athas on Vimeo.

An account of the Mexican Wolf, or lobo, at Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A New Study Reveals What Mexican Gray Wolves Need to Survive


On March 29, 1998, 11 captive-reared Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) were released to the wild for the first time in the Blue Range Recovery Area of Arizona and New Mexico. Missing from the landscape for more than 30 years, the howl of the rarest and most unique subspecies of gray wolf, was once again greeted by the mountains of the southwest. This March, marks the 16th anniversary of this historic event, a significant milestone for the lobo and wildlife conservation. On this first day of #LoboWeek, we’re excited about sharing news of a new study that reflects what is needed to keep the subspecies going.  Happy #Loboweek!

Originally posted on Defenders of Wildlife Blog “Wolf Wanderers” on March 20, 2014 by Dan Thornhill, Eva Sargent and Courtney Sexton.

Mexican gray wolves are one of the rarest and most critically-endangered animals in the U.S. This subspecies of wolves – known in the Southwest as lobos –descended from the first wave of wolves to cross the Bering Straits from Asia to Alaska many thousands of years ago. Mexican gray wolves have a long history of wandering across the landscape. Over time, they made their way south into the southwestern U.S. and central Mexico where they adapted to life in the forested “sky island” ranges in a sea of grassland and desert, and from where they draw their common name. In spite of their uniqueness, adaptability, and long history, very few lobos remain today. Deliberate persecution drove Mexican gray wolves to the brink of extinction; in the late 1970s and early 80’s the last handful of wild Mexican gray wolves was captured to begin a captive breeding program.

Of these five surviving lobos, only three were unrelated. Along with four pure Mexican gray wolves already in captivity, these 7 “founders” were all that stood between survival and complete extinction of the Mexican gray wolf. After many years of work to restore the lobo in the southwest U.S., there are currently about 83 wolves in one wild population in Arizona and New Mexico, two wild lobos in Mexico, and another 300 living in captivity.

But continued recovery of these unique wolves is far from certain. Small populations of animals face genetic problems from inbreeding that can undermine their recovery. This problem is particularly pronounced in Mexican gray wolves because there were so few survivors when recovery efforts began. For Mexican gray wolves to have a chance at survival in the wild, there must be “genetic exchange” or migration of wolves between populations and reproduction across those populations. But how many populations, and how much migration and reproduction are needed to make sure Mexican wolves can sustain themselves in the future?  All too often, wildlife managers guess at the answer.



Thanks to Drs. Carlos Carroll, Richard Fredrickson, and Robert Lacy, however, we don’t have to guess any longer. These well-respected scientists (and members of the lobo Recovery Team) designed a complex model that brought together information on Mexican gray wolf genetics, habitat and demography to measure just how much flow between populations is needed to keep the subspecies going. Their results demonstrated that the fewer wolves moving between populations, the more likely it is that Mexican gray wolves will go extinct. To stave off extinction, about one wolf from each generation must access another population. And, for the model to work, there must be at least three populations with this movement happening between them. The good news is that this is possible, provided that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service establishes two additional populations and lets lobos move from population to population.

Still, movement across the landscape, by itself, is not enough to solve the crisis. The migrating wolves also have to find a mate and have pups. This is a special challenge for wolves because of their unique pack structure – in a typical wolf pack only the pack leaders, or “alphas,” reproduce. In order to be counted as an “effective migrant” in this model (and thus lessen extinction odds), wolves had to both migrate and become a reproducing pack leader. When this requirement is added to the fact that there is currently only one small population (which is suffering from a lack of genetic diversity), and only a few areas with sufficient wolf habitat, the conservation challenges for Mexican gray wolves become formidable.


But knowing what these challenges are allows us to help the wolves overcome them. This latest study by Dr. Carroll and colleagues enables us to move beyond generalities and to get really specific when it comes to wolf conservation. We now know precisely what Mexican gray wolves need to recover. With this information, there is no room for excuses. For these wolves to succeed, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs follow what science tells us – begin building two additional populations, release more wolves, and implement a viable recovery plan (explaining why the Recovery Team hasn’t met since 2011 would be nice, too). The clock is ticking on the lobos’ chances for survival. No species should have to face extinction at the hands of humanity, much less twice.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wolf Conservation Center Initiates Northeast Collaboration for Wolf Recovery


Northeast Wolf Coalition Calls on FWS to Withdraw Gray Wolf Proposals

The Northeast Wolf Coalition, a group of national, regional and local conservation organizations, submitted a statement today to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in opposition to its 2013 proposal to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the contiguous United States. The Coalition took action in response to FWS' reopening of the comment period as a result of a peer review report by an independent panel of scientists produced by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at UC Santa Barbara. According to the report, FWS' move to strip federal protection from nearly all gray wolves in the lower 48 states is based on insufficient science.

The peer review committee was particularly critical of the Service’s determination that the gray wolf never occurred in 29 eastern states. Based in part on preliminary conclusions from a single 2012 paper written by biologists employed by FWS, the Service contended that the eastern half of the U.S. was occupied by Canis lycaon or the "eastern wolf," a distinct species of wolf and not belonging to the gray wolf species, Canis lupus.

Under the ESA, FWS is obligated to recover endangered species across a “significant portion” of its historic range. If the eastern half of the U.S. was never a part of the gray wolf’s historic range, FWS contends that Canis lupus (a.k.a. gray wolves) now occupy enough of its historic range to be considered recovered. Thus, FWS made its determination that gray wolves no longer warrant ESA protection.

But, on February 7, 2014, the peer review panel reported that "there is not currently sufficient scientific support for the recognition of C. lycaon [eastern wolf] as a separate species... thus "there was unanimity among the panel that the [delisting] rule does not currently represent the ‘best available science.' "

"Best science regarding wolf taxonomy and trophic cascades furnishes powerful evidence of our need to conserve wolves in the northeastern US via ESA protection and other available policy and management tools," stated Cristina Eisenberg. As Aldo Leopold, Adolph Murie, and others argued so eloquently decades ago, apex predators, especially wolves, are essential in order to have resilient, healthy ecosystems. This is especially true today, given climate change and habitat fragmentation."

The value and importance of conserving endangered 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 more functional ecosystem is undeniable. That our policies would and should be motivated by the best available scientific principles is critical. As a result, the Northeast Wolf Coalition, with the guidance of scientific mentors and advisers, urged FWS to withdraw its proposal with a statement submitted during the Service's public comment period.

"We have unique opportunities and challenges here in the Northeast," said Maggie Howell, Wolf Conservation Center. "The Northeast Wolf Coalition is working together using the most current peer reviewed science to raise awareness and increase public understanding about wolves. A broad base of public support is necessary for wolves to recover and we remain committed to ensuring that stakeholders become active stewards in that regard. There are biological, economic and ethical reasons to facilitate wolf recovery and the Coalition is eager to work with area residents, organizations, and state and federal agencies to promote the wolf's natural return to our region."

"Our Northeast boreal and mixed-hardwood ecosystems in the Adirondacks need top predators like the wolf to fully function. As wolves disperse from Canada into our region from the North and the West - and we already have seen significant evidence that this can and has happened - we simply must preserve and protect wolves and all top canids. Thus we believe the FWS' proposal to delist wolves has no merit." stated Dan Plumley, Partner with Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.

"The FWS - and Northeastern state wildlife agencies - need to recognize that wolf recovery dovetails with the recovery of collapsing ecosystems in the Northeast." Chris Spatz, Cougar Rewilding Foundation.

“The gray wolf should not be removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species,” said William C. Janeway, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council in New York. “Clearly, the population of the gray wolf has not been restored. There is no wolf population in the Northeast. The proposed delisting would virtually prevent gray wolves from naturally finding their way back to the Adirondack Park, a place they once roamed.”

"When confronted about FWS' plan to delist gray wolves, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell asserted that she has no choice in the matter, 'it's about science and you do what the science says.' Now that the peer review confirms our beliefs, the Northeast Wolf Coalition wants to hold Jewell to her word," said Tara Thornton, Endangered Species Coalition.

The public comment period remains open until March 27, 2014.Click here to submit your comment.  
To learn more about the Northeast Wolf Coalition and FWS' delisting proposal, visit northeastwolf.org.
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The Northeast Wolf Coalition includes the following member organizations and supporters:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St Patrick's Day

Friday, March 14, 2014

Critically Endangered Mexican Wolf Finds Home in New York


M1133 was born at the California Wolf Center in 2008 and lived at New Mexico’s Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility since his puppyhood. Like most of the Mexican wolves at the Wolf Conservation Center, M1133 was cared for in a way to best prepare him for a future in the wild. In order to ensure the genetic health of this terribly limited population, it’s vital that the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program grant’s new wolves an opportunity to join their wild kin. And what an amazing gift to bestow – freedom!



In January of 2013 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) approved the release of M1133 in hopes that the young male would fill a void within Arizona’s Bluestem pack created after alpha male M806 was illegally shot and killed on July 6, 2012. M1133 was released on January 8th in the Apache National Forest of east-central Arizona, however, his stint in the wild was short lived. After just 3 weeks in the wild, M1133 was placed back in captivity. USFWS captured the lobo because he failed to catch the attention of the Bluestem Pack’s alpha female. Shortly after his release, M1133 headed east crossing the state border into New Mexico. When it became clear to USFWS that he was heading increasingly further away from all wild lobos (likely in search for a mate) it was decided that the genetically valuable wolf can better contribute to the recovery of this rare species by being introduced to a mate in captivity. M1133 was then paired with a wild-born female at USFWS' captive breeding center and was  slated for release that spring with his new mate F1108.



A few months later, wolves F1108 (then pregnant) and M1133, newly dubbed the Half Moon Pack, had successfully bred and were up for trans-location into the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico. Right away M1133 was on the move traveling further and further away from F1108 who had stayed near the release site. By the end of the week he had trekked over 75 miles and was out of the recovery area in poor habitat, and surrounded by human settlements, major roadways, and very little natural prey thus creating a dangerous situation for his survival. Consequently,  just a week after his second chance of being free, a decision was made to recapture M1133 and bring him back to captivity.

Today, M1133 will be joining the Wolf  Conservation Center family.  Although we wish the captive born lobo could have remained in the wild, he'll receive the best care in his new home and his story will contribute to our efforts to raise awareness of the importance of his endangered kin and the challenges of recovery on the wild landscape.  Welcome to the New York, lobo.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Debate Among Scientists Over "Wolf Effect" in Yellowstone



The The New York Times op-ed by Arthur Middleton questioning the strength of evidence supporting the wolf-generated trophic cascade in Yellowstone has spawned a fire-storm of debate in the scientific community. In a recent editorial, Bob Ferris of Cascadia Wildlands points out that this sort of dialog is healthy in re: to science and raising awareness about the complexity of ecosystems and  ecological interactions.

Whether one believes ecosystems are driven by top-down forces or bottom-up, "all in this particular debate feel that wolves are strong and necessary actors in this and other wild places and none of them subscribe to the notion that wolf recovery should not take place."
Read Ferris' editorial in blog post in full.

Of Wolves and Beer

By Bob Ferris
Originally posted on March 12 on http://www.cascwild.org/category/blog/

The New York Times op-ed by Arthur Middleton questioning the strength of evidence in Yellowstone of wolf-generated trophic cascades and urging more cautious messaging on trophic cascades by conservation groups and wolf advocates has spawned a fire-storm of debate.  And that is good and healthy in terms of what science should do and also in terms of raising public awareness about the complexity of ecosystems and ecological interactions.  The public should know that simple models about ecosystems are illustrative of how a set of processes might interact rather than a set of rules that ecosystems must always obey.  Ecosystems and ecology are complicated and that is why many of us are drawn to this discipline.

This whole debate reminds me of the old “tastes great, less filling” beer commercials we used to see on TV.  This is not to diminish the importance of either of these experimentally supported points of view but rather to put them in perspective.  Certainly both parties to the debate have arguments for their particular view point and the reality is that beer can taste great and be less filling.  And likewise ecosystems can be driven simultaneously by top-down and bottom-up forces.

Now anti-wolf forces can and will gravitate to this debate with the idea of gleaning material arguments for why wolves should not have been reintroduced or recovered, but they should remember that neither of the folks in those dated commercials hates beer.  In point of fact, the strength of their debate is influenced by their strong feelings about beer and the same is similarly true about wolves and wolf biologists.

Ecological theory and ecosystem models are made better by healthy debate.  Those leaning towards the bottom-up camp improve their lens by being challenged by the top-down theorist and vice versa.  In addition, the public should learn some from this unfolding debate about the way ecosystems and science work.  And anti-wolf factions who want to make hay about this need to remember that both sides of the beverage debate held beers firmly in their grasps.  All in this particular debate feel that wolves are strong and necessary actors in this and other wild places and none of them subscribe to the notion that wolf recovery should not take place.

Let’s raise a glass to the wolf.

Please consider signing Cascadia Wildlands' petition urging Secretary of Interior Jewell to withdraw USFWS' nationwide gray wolf delisting proposal. Sign here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Become a Star of the WCC's #LoboWeek Video



On March 29, 1998, 11 captive-reared Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) were released to the wild for the first time in the Blue Range Recovery Area of Arizona and New Mexico. Missing from the landscape for more than 30 years, the howl of the rarest and most unique subspecies of gray wolf, was once again  greeted by the  mountains of the southwest.  This month, marks the 16th anniversary of this historic event, a significant milestone for the lobo and wildlife conservation.  In recognition of the anniversary, the WCC is among the rapidly growing group of partners participating #LoboWeek, an international movement to educate people about the Mexican wolf or "lobo" and our efforts to successfully restore this critically endangered wolf to its ancestral home in the wild.

#LoboWeek is approaching and we want you to join the celebration!  In honor of the wild holiday, we'll be creating a short awareness building video and we need your help to do it!  Please consider sending us a short video message saying "Happy LoboWeek" (or be creative and use your own words) to maggie@nywolf.org this week so you can be among the stars in the video.  We encourage creativity and here are some fun suggestions:
  • Get your workmates together for a group message
  • Find a landmark in your state or country to pose next to in your video message
  • Send this appeal to friends in faraway places
  • Get your kiddos/students  involved
  • If you know a celebrity, get them in on the action!
We ask that all videos are in .MOV format and sent to maggie@nywolf.org by 3-14-14 (Friday). In order to safeguard the quality of your video, consider sending it to us via wetransfer.com, a free service one can use to transfer files up to 10GB.

Please click here to learn more about the #LoboWeek movement!

Thank you!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Join Us for the 2014 Wolf Stewards Meeting

Register Now for 2014 Wolf Stewards Meeting

The Midwest Wolf Stewards Conference is an annual gathering of wolf professionals from both state and federal agencies, universities, tribes, wildlife conservation organizations, and others interested in wolves and the hotly debated issues that surround North America's most controversial species. The Wolf Conservation Center is a cosponsor of year's conference so we hope you can join us there! The conference is open to all and we look forward to this opportunity to hear and collaborate with the most knowledgeable in the fields of science, conservation, law, and more.

2014 Midwest Wolf Stewards Meeting
April 23-24, 2014
Holiday Inn Express Sault Ste Marie
320 Bay Street Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario P6A 1X1, Canada
View last year's meeting agenda here

Thursday, March 6, 2014

R.I.P. Mexican Gray Wolf M807



It is with great sadness that we share the news of the death of a special wolf.  Mexican Gray Wolf M807 passed away today.

M807 was 11 years old and called the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) home since his transfer to New York  in 2009.  M807 never received the opportunity to take his rightful place on the wild landscape like brother and litter-mate M806.  Nor did M807 ever sire a litter like his other bother M804.  M807, however, was still an integral part of the recovery of his rare species. For two years he and his sister, F810, resided on exhibit at the WCC to help raise awareness for his critically endangered kin and our efforts to recover them.

The handsome fellow had an unforgettable look.  He was featured in The New York Post and became the face for the "I am essential" movement.  His raw beauty helped teach people about the "experimental, nonessential" designation given to wild lobos by U.S. Fish & Wildlife, and the deadly repercussions the unfortunate label has had on the already fragile population.

In the fall of 2013, we confirmed that his kidneys were failing.  He remained strong and spirited until earlier this week when his health declined rapidly. M807 was euthanized in the early afternoon.

"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

Our hearts go out to his mate F986, his sister F810, and those of you who M807 had unknowingly touched.

R.I.P. M807

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bob Wayne Discusses Repercussions of Poor Science on Wolves



UCLA's Conservation geneticist Bob Wayne was one of five reviewers on the independent panel of scientists commissioned by USFWS to provide an objective scientific review of the federal agency's nationwide delisting proposal. Wayne discusses the scientific shortcomings of the proposal and its repercussions on one of America’s top predators on Public Radio International's Living on Earth episode "Poor Science? Gray Wolf to Lose Federal Protection"

Wayne and the other scientists on the review committee were particularly critical of the Service’s determination that the gray wolf never occurred in 29 eastern states. Based in part on preliminary conclusions from a single 2012 paper written by biologists employed by USFWS, the Service contended that the eastern half of the U.S. was occupied by Canis lycaon or the "eastern wolf," a distinct species of wolf and not belonging to the gray wolf species, Canis lupus.

Wayne doesn't recall USFWS ever delisting a species due to a taxonomic change before, and believes USFWS' plan to promote the Eastern wolf to a separate species with its own species name Canis lycaon, sets a very dangerous precedent and is a "taxonomic slight of hand" that science is unable to support.

In response to the peer review, USFWS has again opened public comment on its wolf delisting proposal for 45 days until March 27th. Please join the Wolf Conservation Center and Stand For Wolves - Call on Secretary Jewell to withdraw USFWS’s delisting proposal.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How Wolves Change Rivers