Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Vision of a Wilder Northeast

The Northeast Wolf Coalition's NEW video introduces us to the region's wild heritage. Big thanks to Predator Defense's Brooks Fahy and all our wonderful supporters who contributed photos to help demonstrate the present and potential beauty the Northeast offers.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Wolves Abloom

We can find out that it's fall by looking at the calendar, but what fun is that? We know fall has arrived when we can kick our feet though a carpet of leaves, when everything nice is pumpkin-spiced, and when tank tops and bathing suits are replaced with football pads and chunky sweaters. We’re not the only ones who change wardrobes with the seasons, wolves do too! When trees explode with new color, a wolf glows in it's newly grown coat.

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 slicker, 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 prepared fall and likely looking forward to even colder temperatures on the horizon. Enjoy the day Atka!

Learn more about why wolves shed.

Friday, September 26, 2014

And the Oscar Goes to...

Waning Wolf is a short film about Wolf Conservation Center Ambassador wolf Atka and his mission to teach people about the importance and plight of his wild kin. We're happy to announce that the short is an official selection of the Woodstock Film Festival in Woodstock, New York! If you're in the area, please consider seeing the film at one or both of it's screenings!

October 17 - 12PM
October 18 - 2:15PM

Details and ticket information here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Happy New Year

71,500 People Speak Out for Endangered Mexican Gray Wolves

New Rules Expand Area Mexican Wolves Can Roam, But Also Allow Increased Wolf Killing

TUCSON, Ariz.— More than 71,500 people submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) in support of stronger protections for Mexican gray wolves during the comment period ending today. In July, the agency proposed a new rule updating management of these wolves that would, for the first time, allow releases of captive-bred animals into New Mexico and allow wolves much more room to roam than they’re currently allowed. Scientists and citizens have long urged adoption of these measures.

However, the science-supported provisions in the proposed rule would be undermined by provisions arbitrarily limiting wolves to south of Interstate 40 in Arizona and New Mexico, and increasing the circumstances in which wolves could be trapped or shot despite scientists’ recommendations that the Service must decrease already-excessive human-caused removal and mortality rates.

“We’ve got to let wolves roam, find the best habitat with their own noses and paws — and frankly, we’ve got to stop the slaughter of wolves by both government and private citizens,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The proposed rule falls short of what is needed, and we hope that the government will listen to the tens of thousands of citizens requesting they follow the science and let these lobos raise their pups, travel freely and contribute to the balance of nature without persecution.”

“The Endangered Species Act and the hard work of wildlife biologists and individuals and groups throughout the country have given these endangered wolves a life line, a second chance,” said Sandy Bahr, chapter director for Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon (Arizona) Chapter. “Now we need the US Fish and Wildlife Service to do its part – to reject these arbitrary borders, to stop the excessive killing of wolves, and to afford them the protections that are necessary for their recovery.”

Comments from conservation groups and thousands of citizens urged the Service to allow Mexican wolves to roam freely in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado; re-designate the small and vulnerable reintroduced population in the Southwest as “essential” under the Endangered Species Act; and spare wolves from trapping, snaring and shooting by the government and private individuals.

“The Service must decide how to manage the reintroduced Mexican wolf population based on the best available science,” said Drew Kerr, carnivore advocate with WildEarth Guardians. “The science shows that to recover, lobos need multiple populations in the American Southwest, freedom to roam their native habitat in the Grand Canyon and southern Rockies regions, and more protections from shooting and trapping.”

Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project Executive Director Emily Renn added, “Multiple studies, including peer reviewed science published in Conservation Biology just last year, show that the best available habitat for recovery of these special wolves is north of I-40. Many thousands of U.S citizens understand this, so why doesn’t the agency responsible for the wolves’ recovery?”

At last count, after thirty-six years of the government’s recovery efforts, just 83 wolves including only five breeding pairs, survive in the wilds of Arizona and New Mexico.

"Wolf supporters throughout the U.S. are united in wanting to see Mexican wolves roam throughout the Southwest so their howls can be heard again in every canyon and mountain range, and they can once again fulfill their important role as a top predator in maintaining the balance of nature in Southwestern ecosystems," said Kevin Bixby, Executive Director of the Southwest Environmental Center.

Under a 1998 rule, the Service reintroduced Mexican gray wolves to a small area on the border of Arizona and New Mexico known as the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. In accordance with a settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity, the Fish and Wildlife Service has now proposed to revise this rule and must finalize it by January 12, 2015.

The proposed rule allows release of captive wolves directly into New Mexico, which was previously only allowed for recaptured wolves. This should allow the release of more wolves from captivity, which is badly needed to bolster the genetic diversity of a wild population suffering from inbreeding depression and consequent lower reproductive rates.

The proposed rule also expands the recovery area across Arizona and New Mexico, and south to the Mexican border. By limiting wolves to the area south of Interstate 40, however, the proposed rule falls short of what scientists recommend.

A recovery team formed by the Service drafted a Mexican wolf recovery plan in 2013 that called for creating additional populations in the Southern Rockies and Grand Canyon regions. In response to objections from the states of Utah and Colorado, the agency neglected to finalize this recovery plan. Conservationists are pursuing litigation to obtain a final plan.

The proposed rule would liberalize take of wolves by allowing states to dictate wolf removal in response to wolves eating their natural prey such as elk and deer, and by allowing livestock owners greatly increased latitude to kill wolves, even those not involved in depredations.

In their comments, conservationists recommended the following:

• Designating Mexican gray wolves as “experimental essential” under the Endangered Species Act to bolster their legal and on-the-ground protections;

• Allowing wolves to roam into habitat north of Interstate 40;

• Requiring ranchers to remove or render inedible (for example, through lime) the carcasses of non-wolf-killed livestock before wolves can scavenge and become accustomed to eating livestock; and

• Disallowing take of wolves until the population reaches a science-based population threshold, in accordance with recovery recommendations the Service has ignored.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Sierra Club is now the nation's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization -- with more than two million members and supporters.

WildEarth Guardians is a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers and health of the American West.

The Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project is dedicated to bringing back wolves and restoring ecological health in the Grand Canyon Region.

The Southwest Environmental Center speaks for wildlife and wild places in the southwestern borderlands.

The following organizations also generated comments for Mexican wolf recovery:

Sierra Club-Rio Grande Chapter, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, White Mountain Conservation League, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Endangered Species Coalition, Mexicanwolves.org and the Wolf Conservation Center

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Federal Judge Reinstates Federal Protections for Wyoming Wolves!

Victory for wolves in Wyoming! Federal judge reinstates federal protections statewide!

Center for Biological Diversity's Press Release.
Federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming were reinstated today after a judge invalidated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) 2012 statewide Endangered Species Act delisting of the species. The ruling from the U.S. District Court halts the management of wolves by Wyoming, a state with a history of hostile and extreme anti-wolf policies.

On August 31, 2012 the USFWS officially stripped federal protections from Wyoming's wolves and handed management over to the state, a controversial decision, and contradiction of the agency's stance in the past. Although USFWS had previously criticized Wyoming's state wolf plan on the grounds that unregulated shooting in most of the state would reduce the state’s wolf population below federally required levels, the agency took a significantly altered position, announcing that these wolves no longer warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The following day, management was handed over to the state and Wyoming's inaugural wolf hunt commenced.

On November 13th, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), and the Sierra Club, all represented by Earthjustice — officially filed suit in federal district court in the District of Columbia asking "the court to declare this rule illegal, and put wolves back on the endangered species list until Wyoming adopts a responsible management plan that ensures the continued survival and recovery of wolves in the region."

Almost two years later, Wyoming wolves receive a reprieve!

“The court has ruled and Wyoming’s kill-on-sight approach to wolf management throughout much of the state must stop,” said Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso. “Today’s ruling restores much-needed federal protection to wolves throughout Wyoming, which allowed killing along the borders of Yellowstone National Park and throughout national forest lands south of Jackson Hole where wolves were treated as vermin under state management. If Wyoming wants to resume management of wolves, it must develop a legitimate conservation plan that ensures a vibrant wolf population in the northern Rockies.”

Unfortunately, this decision won't bring back the wolves that have been killed. Since the delisting in 2012, 219 wolves have been killed under Wyoming’s management.

USFWS is poised to remove Endangered Species Act protection for nearly all gray wolves across the United States, a proposal that the Wolf Conservation Center strongly opposes; a final decision could be made later this year.

For Red Wolves, Ignoring Climate Change is Not An Option

Red wolves exist in only one place in the wild*, the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge on North Carolina's Albemarle Peninsula. The densely vegetated refuge is perfect for red wolves: full of prey and practically devoid of people. Perfect, except it may all be underwater soon.

Smithsonian Magazine explains why ignoring rising seas is not an option for red wolves. Coastal North Carolina is more vulnerable than almost anywhere else in the United States to sea-level rise associated with climate change, and the 154,000-acre Alligator River refuge could be one of the first areas to go under.

*2 wild red wolves also exist on island propagation site at St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge. One of the red wolves, M1804, was born at the Wolf Conservation Center!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Wolves to Help Scientists Predict Climate Effects on Various Species

By studying the wolves of Yellowstone National Park, a group of researchers are developing a new model for understanding how both ecological and evolutionary traits of an animal population change as the environment does.

The researchers recorded and studied data from Yellowstone for more than 15 years, including the body size, coat color, and population to see how animals react to climate change, both in terms of behavior – such as the age they first reproduce – and genetics – such as whether it has black or grey coat.

"We know that climate change is having an impact on the lives of animal species around the world. This is clear through the changes we've seen in their population sizes, as well as their body sizes, but what has not been so clear is what underlies these changes. This work provides a relatively easy way for biologists to investigate how, and why, environmental change impacts both the ecology and near term evolutionary future of species," said researcher Tim Coulson, of Imperial College London.

The results from the study, published in the journal Science, could eventually help scientists discover which animals, species ranging from mosquitoes to crocodiles, are more resilient to climate change – and which would be at most immediate risk of extinction. This is important data and can be used to set conservation policy.

Read more from Imperial College London News.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Wolf Pups Spotted at People's Climate March in NYC!

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not." 
 ~ Dr Seuss, The Lorax

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

USFWS Poised to Turn Its Back On Red Wolf Recovery

 Last month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that it will be conducting a review of the North Carolina red wolf population. The evaluation, which will be completed by October 10, 2014, will be peer reviewed and then used to help the Service determine if it will continue, modify, or END the program that manages the last remaining wild red wolves on our planet!
The future of this critically endangered species depends on us.

USFWS is seeking public input and the comment period will remain open through September 26, 2014. Comments are accepted at redwolfreview@fws.gov, and via postal mail: 1875 Century Blvd., Suite 200, Atlanta, Ga., 30345, marked “Attention: Red Wolf Evaluation."

 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 red wolf to a balanced and resilient ecosystem is undeniable. That our policies should be motivated by these basic scientific principles is a must.

Wildlife and other natural resources are a public trust. The public trust is a legal concept that implies that we all share equal, undivided interests in America's wildlife. Thus, decision-making and resulting wildlife policy should be developed based on sound science and carried out in a democratic manner responsive to the voice of ALL people.

As a participant in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP), the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) has played a critical role in preventing the extinction of the red wolf through captive breeding and supporting the Alligator River reintroduction project by producing the wolves for reintroduction. The WCC is committed to the recovery of this rare wolf, and found it necessary to send members of our team to North Carolina to speak in support of red wolf recovery at last week's review hearing. The WCC expressed support for continuing the red wolf recovery program in North Carolina and encouraged additional efforts to restore red wolves to portions of their former range.

For more information about the nature and controversy surrounding this review please click here. (Note: comment period has been extended since this article was published).

Learn more about the the red wolf via the WCC video below.

Please join the WCC and stand for this imperiled wolf.

Happy Rump Day!

What is that spot on Ambassador Wolf Atka's tail? The violet gland or supracaudal gland is an important gland located on the upper surface of a wolf's tail. It's believed to be used for intra-species signalling, scent marking, and perhaps to mark the entrances of wolf dens. It also makes a wolf's rump that much more interesting! Happy Rump Day!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Ambassador Wolf Nikai Turns Five Months Old

 How quickly our the newest member of the Wolf Conservation Center's Ambassador pack has grown! Remember when he looked like this? Within a month of joining the WCC family the little beast huffed, puffed, and hiccuped his way into hearts of minds of a global audience. He almost "broke the internet!"

Nikai isn't the only wolf growing like a weed. Wolves are mono-estrus, breeding only during the winter months. So it's during the spring that wolf pups are born. Fall is a special time for packs in North America. Whether the wolves are living on the Arctic tundra or the mountain forests of the southwest, wolf families are out searching for prey as their pups prepare for their first winter season. So throw back your head and let out a long celebratory howl for this newest wild generation- have fun, be safe, and be free.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Coexistence with Predators Starts With Rewilding Your Heart

In a recent interview on NPR, two kayakers describe their encounter with a great white shark off the coast of Massachusetts. In their account of the event it's essential to note that the two young women didn't let fear overcome their ability to apply knowledge to a potentially dangerous encounter with a predator. Despite the sharks exhibiting threatening behavior, the women wished no harm on the predator. This account supports the idea that people who start with positive attitudes to wildlife, do not demand lethal retaliation when wildlife acts wild. Only people who begin fearful or negative, demand lethal retaliation when wildlife behave as expected (wild...).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Washington’s Endangered Wolves Remain the Crosshairs

Washington’s wolves were driven to extinction in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry. Since the early 2000s, the animals have started to make a comeback by dispersing into Washington from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia (Canada). They are listed as endangered throughout Washington under state law and the western two-thirds of the state under federal law.

In 2011 the WDFW Commission formally adopted the state’s wolf plan, which was crafted in a five-year process with input from a 17-member stakeholder group, more than 65,000 written comments from the public, and a peer review by 43 scientists and wolf managers. The plan requires 15 successful breeding pairs for three consecutive years to remove endangered-species protections. The goal of the plan was to recover wolf populations while minimizing livestock losses. However, the Commission and Department officials have publicly stated that they view the plan as “merely advisory.”

Less than a year (2012) after adopting the plan, the WA Department of Fish and Wildlife wiped out an entire pack of wolves, the Wedge Pack, including its young pups, which had allegedly depredated on cattle that grazed on public and private land. Fish and Wildlife Director Phil Anderson said the effort was necessary. "Lethal removal will remain a wolf-management option, but we will use it only as a last resort," Anderson said. "We are committed to the recovery and sustainability of the gray wolf in Washington, and its numbers are increasing rapidly."

The truth is wolf recovery is still in its infancy in Washington. According to the Department’s annual wolf report, its wolf population grew by only one wolf, from a population of 51 wolves to 52 wolves from the end of 2012 to the end of 2013. In contrast, there are 1.1 million head of cattle that roam public and private lands in the state – including throughout known wolf country.

The Wedge Pack debacle taught all involved that there must be commitments from the state and cattlemen to expand the early use of nonlethal efforts and proven effective wolf conflict avoidance techniques to ensure the future sustainability of wolves that are just beginning to reclaim parts of its historic range. Unfortunately, not much progress was made in that regard.

Now, another pack, the Huckleberry Pack, is the newest target of WDFW’s mismanagement. It was alleged that the pack was responsible for depredating 22 sheep pastured by Mr. Dave Dashiell - placed in an area that made it very difficult to implement nonlethal deterrents and conflict avoidance measures. While some attempts were made to use simple non-lethal methods, they were woefully late and poorly implemented. It is commonly known that these measures are effective only when used correctly and given time to work.

Like the Wedge Pack, the Huckleberry pack now remains in the crosshairs. The department already aerial-gunned a female wolf pup on August 24th. On Aug. 29th, the Steven’s County Commission released the following resolution.

It is important to note that among those Commissioners who signed it, is the brother of said sheep rancher, Commissioner Don Dashiell. Also interesting is the sheep rancher is eligible for compensation (at taxpayer expense) for any lost sheep that were the result of confirmed wolf depredation.

Over the weekend, Stevens County ranchers moved their 1800 sheep to a temporary pasture before getting trucked to their winter range. During this move, members of Huckleberry wolf pack received temporary three-day reprieve. But, it is apparent that the kill order on this wild family has resumed.

On Aug. 28th, eight conservation groups filed an appeal with Governor Jay Inslee asking for reasonable and enforceable rules that mandate what ranchers need to do to protect their livestock and when the state can step in and kill an endangered species. Rules similar to those in place in Oregon and are working to encourage ranchers to enact nonlethal measures; there, the number of depredations has decreased dramatically, and the state has not killed wolves in more than three years. The appeal to Gov. Inslee was filed by groups representing tens of thousands of Washington residents, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, Western Environmental Law Center, Gifford Pinchot Task Force, The Lands Council, Wildlands Network, Kettle Range Conservation Group and the Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club. Upon receipt of the appeal, the governor’s office has 45 days to respond with a final decision. 

Thus, the Wolf Conservation Center’s Awareness and Action Committee is encouraging its supporters to champion this effort by respectfully urging the Governor to (1) revoke the state’s kill order on the Huckleberry pack (2) adopt reasonable and enforceable measures that will ensure a future for wolf recovery in the state.

Please email and call Governor Inslee
• governor@gov.wa.gov
• 360-902-4111

 Please remember to keep your comments respectful.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Make the School Year a Wild One with Wolves

It's back to school time!  It's always hard saying goodbye to summer.  Spending more time outdoors in Nature's playground is essential and something we all can treasure. In order to be wise stewards of the very environment that sustains us, however, education is key. And so is heading back to school!

It is environmental education which can best help us as individuals make the complex, conceptual connections between economic prosperity, benefits to society, environmental health, and our own well-being. Ultimately, the collective wisdom of our citizens, gained through education, is the most compelling and most successful strategy for future conservation initiatives.

Through wolves, the Wolf Conservation Center teaches the broader message of conservation, ecological balance, and personal responsibility for improved human stewardship of our World. By providing science-based information, the WCC allows wolves and humans to better coexist in our fragile environment, improves our efforts to successfully restore endangered wolves to their ancestral homes in the wild and offers direct exposure to an elusive predator people might not ever see in the wild. The WCC education and Ambassador-wolf programs open the door to understanding the importance of a healthy planet. They are designed to conform to New York State Standards for Science Education and touch on a variety of disciplines from biology to history.

Schools can experience the WCC’s educational message in three formats:
 • Onsite programs at the WCC facility in South Salem, NY;
 • A visit to your school - offsite programs with WCC traveling ambassador wolf Atka.
 • Classroom learning, though our innovative “Interdisciplinary Curriculum in Wolf Education – Tracks to the Futurehttp://nywolf.org/curriculum,” enables middle students to learn and master many of the required Common Core State Standards in Language Arts, Reading, Math, Science and Social Studies while using wolf conservation as an integrating theme. The Curriculum deepens the educational experience the Center can provide and expands the organization’s geographic reach.

To learn more about the WCC education programming and how to get your school/students involved, please visit www.nywolf.org.