Thursday, November 20, 2014

Northeast Wolf Coalition Draws Wildlife Experts to Walden Woods



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 20, 2014
Contact: Wolf Conservation Center: Maggie Howell, maggie@nywolf.org; 914-763-2373 Endangered Species Coalition: Tara Thornton; tthornton@endangered.org; 207-268-2108 RESTORE: The North Woods: Jym St. Pierre; jym@restore.org;

Recognizing the need for an ongoing collaboration to explore the vision of and potential for wolf recovery in the Northeast USA, the Northeast Wolf Coalition, an alliance of conservation organizations from New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut and beyond, recently gathered at Walden Woods in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Inspired by the lands, literature and legacy of the quintessential American author, philosopher, and naturalist, Henry David Thoreau, the Coalition examined its ethic of environmental stewardship and social responsibility - both cornerstones of Thoreau’s philosophy.

Informed by some of the nation’s best and brightest wildlife conservationists and scientists, the conference brought together more than two dozen stakeholders to review the focus and the direction of its mission and to plan collaborative projects based on common goals and the most current scientific principles. The Coalition believes that the return of the wolf will reflect a more fully functional and wild ecosystem in the Northeast, with wolves fulfilling a dynamic and evolving ecological function in the changing environments that comprise the region.

"We know wolves and other top predators are key to a healthy ecosystem”, said Tara Thornton, Program Director for the national Endangered Species Coalition. “In the Northeast, it's critical to have protections in place for wolves if we are ever to see them return to their native landscape," she added.

“One of those safeguards must involve exploring better protections for the eastern coyote which lives throughout the region,” said Jonathan Way, Ph.D., a biologist who has studied wild canids for over a decade. “While the eastern coyote has a different ecological role than larger wolves, it looks very similar and can easily be mistaken, even by trained wildlife biologists.”

Although the howl of the wolf has been silent in the Northeast for over a century, the Coalition worked together to design a preliminary framework from which it will begin to transfer scientific evidence into informed practice and advocacy to promote wolf recovery in the region.

According to Jym St. Pierre, Maine Director, RESTORE: The North Woods, “The wolf once was the most widely-distributed land mammal on Earth. It lived throughout the Northeast, performing an essential ecological role. While wolves are making a comeback across many parts of the U.S., they remain missing from our northeastern landscapes. Scientific studies show there is plenty of habitat and wild food to support a viable population of this important species. For biological, spiritual, and even economic reasons, it is time to get wolf recovery in the Northeast back on track as part of the rewilding of our region.”

The Coalition believes the imminent loss of federal protections for wolves in the lower 48 states threatens the survival of individual wolves that attempt to move into the region from existing populations located to the north and northwest in Canada that are well within dispersal range of reaching the Northeast.

“Wolf recovery is possible when states recognize their legal obligation to conserve the species as a public trust resource. Such recognition implies that states must now assume the critical role in wolf protection and apply the leadership necessary to ensure they recover in sustainable numbers throughout the region,” said Maggie Howell, Northeast Wolf Coalition Coordinator and Executive Director of the Wolf Conservation Center in New York. “Doing so moves the debate about wolf recovery in the Northeast back into the scientific as opposed to the political arena.”

To learn more about the Northeast Wolf Coalition, please visit www.northeastwolf.org

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