Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gray Wolf Status by State in the Northeast


Wolves roamed the Northeast into the last century, until they were eliminated by persistent anti-wolf campaigns and the decimation of timberlands. Successful forest regeneration in the past 100 years has created suitable wolf habitat again in the region, and scientists continue to study the possibility of the natural recolonization and restoration of wolves to the ecosystem.

If the gray wolf loses federal protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act, its future here in the Northeast depends on its status at the state level. Is the wolf listed as endangered in your state?

Find out from the Northeast Wolf Coalition's Status by State.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Montana’s Wolf Hunting Season Comment Period Ends Today


 The Wolf Conservation Center is opposed to the hunting of all predators, especially wolves, with the possible exception of extremely rare (and confirmed) threats to people, pets and property. A great body of scientific work confirms when it comes to wolves, it’s not about quotas. A wolf is a wolf when it’s part of an intact, unexploited group capable of complex cooperative behaviors and unique traditions. If a pack is left unexploited, it will develop its own traditions for hunting, pup-rearing, and social behaviors that are finely tuned to its precise environment. Wolves should not be managed by simplistic models most commonly used by today’s wildlife agencies. The notion that we can “harvest” a fixed percentage of an existing wolf population that corresponds to natural mortality rates and still maintain viable populations of wolves does not reflect the most current, peer reviewed research. If we leave wolves alone, they will manage their own numbers in concert with their environment. And, if we leave wolves alone, we will be the ones to benefit – for the presence of wolves contributes to the balance of the wild lands.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) is seeking comment on three wolf-related proposals: (1) closing the hunting and trapping season in Wolf Management Units 313 and 316 within 12 hours of the harvests quotas there being reached. These WMUs border Yellowstone National Park. The proposal also includes reducing the harvest quota in WMU 313 from four to three wolves; (2) offering the opportunity to trap wolves via a drawing on three western Montana wildlife management areas, including the Blackfoot-Clearwater, Fish Creek and Mount Haggin WMAs; (3) a statewide annual quota of 100 wolves taken under a new state law that provides for landowners to take wolves without a license that are a potential threat to human safety, livestock or pets.

We believe that wildlife management should be based on best available, peer-reviewed science and the democratic principles that guide decision-making. Therefore, the WCC is urging FWP to consider our serious concerns herein prior to its final decision re: wolf season recommendations for 2014-15 based on the evidence provided the WCC's position statement.

Today is the last day that Montana FWP is accepting comments re: its wolf season recommendations for 2014-15. Please join the WCC and submit your comment today. Click HERE to view the WCC's position statement. Email your comment to fwpcomm@Mt.gov or submit comment via FWP's comment form.

Thank you!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Wolf Pup vs. Cat Nap

Most of us have struggled at one point or another with fighting sleep. Whether it's in class, on the bus, or in front of the tube, usually sleepiness will conquer.  This holds true for wolf pups too! Join Ambassador wolf pup Nikai as he fights the ZZZs.



Nikai is the newest adorable addition to the Wolf Conservation Center's Ambassador Pack in South Salem, NY! As an Ambassador, Nikai will help WCC wolves Atka, Zephyr, and Alawa open the door to understanding the importance and plight of their wild kin. If you're unable to hear and see the kiddo in person, please join us online or on Facebook to follow his growth and adventures. It should be fun (and educational) watching him thrive and become yet another powerful presence in the fight to preserve wolves' rightful place in the environment.

Managing Wolves by the Numbers


Under the endangered species regulations governing gray wolf recovery, states must monitor wolf numbers and file annual status reports on wolf populations and packs on an annual basis. Federal authorities review the reports to ensure wolves are being properly managed above minimum standards to avoid relisting wolves as an endangered species. Evidence across the country, and now from neighboring British Columbia, suggest that the current process of counting wolves (which guides wolf management) may not be accurate.

Due to claims that monitoring wolves via radio collars, aerial observations and trapping can be an expensive task, many states have implemented a "patch occupancy model" for counting wolves. The occupancy model depends exclusively on hunter surveys to determine wolf populations and wolf locations.  This information, combined with prey base estimates and landscape data, become the formula for predicting  the  probability of wolves in a given area.  This newer method might be less expensive, however, it is our understanding that it has not undergone rigorous scientific peer review for wolves, and is at best a guesstimate based exclusively on hunter experience in the field. 

n Montana, the patch occupancy model estimates the wolf population 25-35 percent higher than the verified minimum counts led by state agencies.  For instance, population modeling for Montana's wolves in 2012—where actual counts verified a minimum of 625 wolves and 147 packs—predicted that 804 wolves and 165 packs inhabited the state. In a current media release, "FWP looks to new technique to document wolf population size," Montana Wildlife and Parks believes that using hunter observations during the 5 week general hunting season has the immediate benefit of cost savings. However using the public to count wolves has its drawbacks.

It is neither scientifically sound nor ethical to base critical decisions about public "harvest" on statistical predictions and not hard data. Should we be managing wolves by the numbers at all?
By Wolf Conservation Center's Diane Bentivegna

As we learned from Dr. Gordon Haber's 43 years of wolf research in the book "Among Wolves," written with Marybeth Holleman, when it comes to wolves, it's not about numbers. It's about its pack. A wolf is a wolf when it's part of an intact, unexploited group capable of complex cooperative behaviors and unique traditions. If a pack is left unexploited, it will develop its own traditions for hunting, pup-rearing, and social behaviors that are finely tuned to its precise environment.

Wolves should not be managed by the simplistic models most commonly used by today's hunter-dominated wildlife agencies. The notion that we can "harvest" a fixed percentage of an existing wolf population that corresponds to natural mortality rates and still maintain a viable population misses the point. You can't manage wolves by the numbers.

You can't just count the numbers of wolves over a particular area and decide whether it's a "healthy" population. That's because the functional unit of wolves is the pack. If we leave wolves alone, they will manage their own numbers in concert with their environment. And, if we leave wolves alone, we will be the ones to benefit - for the presence of wolves brings natural balance to ecosystems.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Companion Pictures Spotlights Ambassador Wolf Atka


Companion Pictures brings you inside our wolf pack at the Wolf Conservation Center! Via a series of short films we'll be sharing weekly, the independent production company is helping us teach people about the importance and plight of a misunderstood species. This week's episode is about Atka and the places he takes us to help teach people about the importance and plight of his wild kin. Enjoy!

 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Border Collie vs Wolf Pup!

It took a little while, but Nikai, a 9-week-old wolf pup, started to get the hang of playing with Faye, a 13-week-old Border Collie, toward the end of their first playdate. It's easy to see that Faye is definitely controlling the games, though!

The two cute canids met up so that Nikai could benefit from socializing with another puppy. Faye is a perfect date for him- patient, intelligent and boundlessly energetic - she likes to control the toys, but she constantly engages Nikai and is completely comfortable roughhousing with him.



Nikai is the newest adorable addition to the Wolf Conservation Center's Ambassador Pack in South Salem, NY! As an Ambassador, Nikai will help WCC wolves Atka, Zephyr, and Alawa open the door to understanding the importance and plight of their wild kin. If you're unable to hear and see the kiddo in person, please join us online or on Facebook to follow his growth and adventures. It should be fun (and educational) watching him thrive and become yet another powerful presence in the fight to preserve wolves' rightful place in the environment.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

New Media Helps Our Wolf Howls Go Global

Companion Pictures brings you inside our wolf pack at the Wolf Conservation Center! Via a series of short films we’ll be sharing weekly, the independent production company is helping us teach people about the importance and plight of a misunderstood species.  This week's episode explores how new media helps our howls go global. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Wolf Pup Hiccups!

Wolves can make a variety of vocalizations. They growl, whimper, whine, bark, huff, howl... Although the wolf's howl is has been the inspiration for films, essays, poems, etc... we think there is another sound that evokes equal levels of emotion and excitement - a wolf pup's hiccup!



Eight-week-old gray wolf pup Nikai is the newest adorable addition to the Wolf Conservation Center's Ambassador Pack in South Salem, NY! As an Ambassador, Nikai will help WCC wolves Atka, Zephyr, and Alawa open the door to understanding the importance and plight of their wild kin. If you're unable to hear and see the kiddo in person, please join us here online or on Facebook to follow his growth and adventures. It should be fun (and educational) watching him thrive and become yet another powerful presence in the fight to preserve wolves' rightful place in the environment.

Monday, June 9, 2014

New Season Calls For Wild Hair Days for Wolves

Flowers are blooming, the trees are green, and school is letting out -  all great signs pointing to the arrival of a new season! Although the official start to summer relies upon a date on the calendar, wolves rely on subtle cues from Mother Nature to begin preparations for the summer months.  Ambassador wolves Atka, Alawa, and Zephyr know the season is changing so they're busy shedding their winter coats.

For weeks now their insulating undercoats have been falling from their bodies like sheets of soft wool to allow them to live comfortably during the  dog days of summer.  What triggers the shedding process? This time of year both male an female wolves have rising levels of a hormone called prolactin. Prolactin levels increase with the onset of long days and during the short days of winter the hormone levels decrease. It is believed that prolactin has many key roles.

High levels of the hormone contribute to the following:

1) Development of the mammary gland for expectant wolf mothers
2) Maintenance of lactation – helps milk production in wolf mothers
3) Promotion of parental behavior in both males and females and thus enhances pup survival
4) Shedding of the undercoat!

 So longer days alter the chemical makeup of wolves and help ensure that they spend the spring and summer months in comfort with their happy healthy packs.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Companion Pictures Invites You Embrace the Howl


Companion Pictures brings you inside our wolf pack at the Wolf Conservation Center! Via a series of short films we’ll be sharing weekly, the independent production company is helping us teach people about the importance and plight of a misunderstood species. This week's episode explores why we love the howl of the wolf.