Monday, March 30, 2015

Interdisciplinary Curriculum in Wolf Education to Promote Common Core Standards

Tracks to the Future

Interdisciplinary - Service Learning Curriculum Using Wolf Education to Promote Common Core Standards Grades 3 - 8

If you're an educator, please click HERE to view details about our July 2015 "Tracks to the Future" workshop for service credit on MyLearningPlan!

As citizens of the 21st century, our nation and world are at a crossroads when it comes to ensuring the future sustainability of our air, water, wild lands and wildlife for future generations. Ultimately, our nation’s future relies on a well-educated public to be wise stewards of the very environment that sustains us – now and for future generations. We invite educators to consider joining the effort!

In response to this call to action, schools and their community partners are the responsible agents for preparing the next generation to meet these challenges. Our children must acquire an awareness about threats to our natural treasures, and they must be taught conservation literacy – learning about and actively caring for the environment, understanding how human beings interact with and are dependent on different ecosystems, and developing critical-thinking skills to solve problems that affect America’s public lands and wildlife. Awareness and literacy can empower children with a fund of knowledge and the specific skills they will need to compete, collaborate, and participate as educated agents of change in our society.

“Interdisciplinary Curriculum in Wolf Education: Tracks to the Future” partners with educators in the implementation of a unique unit of study that affords elementary and middle school students differentiated opportunities to learn and master many of the required common core academic standards in Language Arts, Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies and the Arts while using the theme of wolf conservation as its integrating theme. It goals encourage students to pose and answer relevant questions about wolf recovery and conservation while they simultaneously acquire new knowledge, tools and the critical thinking skills that they will need as life-long learners, in general.

“Tracks to the Future” is an academically robust, relevant, and innovative “living curriculum.” It emphasizes cooperative learning, research and project-based learning, critical thinking and discussion, hands-on activities, and integrated service learning opportunities. Students develop and practice leadership skills by working in teams, listening to and accepting diverse opinions, solving problems, considering the long-term view, promoting actions that serve the greater good, and connecting with the community to make a difference.

Tomorrow's leaders need to be equipped for tomorrow's challenges. The Wolf Conservation Center has broken new ground by forging a commitment to help educate and motivate a literate generation of problem solvers and future decision-makers. In a world where it is increasingly difficult to engage student interest, Tracks to the Future offers an enriching way for both students and teachers to connect their appreciation of the natural world with academic learning and community service.

Please click HERE to view details about our "Tracks to the Future" workshop for service credit on MyLearningPlan!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Celebrating the Mexican Wolf's Return to The Wild

On March 29, 1998, 11 captive-reared Mexican gray wolves were released to the wild for the first time. 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 17th anniversary of this historic event, a significant milestone for the lobo and wildlife conservation.

In honor of this "wild holiday," children and adults alike are opening their hearts and howling loud for the Lobo!  Happy #LoboWeek!


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Preserving and Protecting the Imperiled Mexican Gray Wolf

The Wolf Conservation Center participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and Recovery Plan for the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupis baileyi)  -- North America' most endangered gray wolf. Prior to the Mexican wolf's return to the wild 17 years ago, the species was completely extinct in the wild. But under the aegis of the Endangered Species Act, reintroduction efforts in the past two decades have established a small, wild population of 109 between Arizona and New Mexico. Presently, there are approximately 400 Mexican gray wolves remaining in the world, the majority living in captivity within the network of facilities like the WCC participating in the SSP.

 We hope you enjoy our story as we carry out the work of their recovery.  Happy ‪#‎LoboWeek‬!

The Mexican Wolf from Lincoln Athas on Vimeo.

Monday, March 23, 2015

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 week marks the 17th anniversary of this historic event, a significant milestone for the lobo and wildlife conservation! On this first day of #LoboWeek, we're revisiting an important study that reflects what is needed to keep the subspecies going. Happy #Loboweek!

Study Reveals What Mexican Gray Wolves Need to Survive

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 (109) wolves in one wild population in Arizona and New 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.

It's LoboWeek - Honoring America's Most Endangered Gray Wolf

The Wolf Conservation Center joins #LoboWeek, an annual effort that will harness the collective power of a WILD group of partners to educate people about the importance of wolves on the landscape of the southwest. On March 29, 1998, 11 captive-reared Mexican gray wolves were released to the wild for the first time in 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 week, #LoboWeek, marks the 17th anniversary of this historic event, a significant milestone for the lobo and wildlife conservation! In recognition of the anniversary, wildlife organizations, zoos, advocacy groups, businesses, and individuals are coming together with one common purpose - to educate people about the Mexican wolf or "lobo" and our efforts to successfully restore this critically endangered wolf to their ancestral homes in the wild. 

“#LoboWeek is not only a unique holiday, it’s an awareness raising tool that allows us to educate people about America’s most endangered gray wolf,” explained Wolf Conservation Center's Maggie Howell. “Mexican gray wolves remain critically endangered due to natural and political challenges they face. Via the #LoboWeek movement, we aim to discuss our critical efforts to recover Mexican wolves and mobilize support for these essential creatures who cannot speak for themselves. With the WCC’s over 2 million followers on Facebook alone, our #LoboWeek howls are sure to be heard!”

To learn more about #LoboWeek and how you can be a part, please visit our #LoboWeek web page and the WCC Facebook Page.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Join An International Movement To Celebrate a Milestone in Wolf Recovery - ‪#‎LoboWeek‬ returns on March 23rd!

On March 29, 1998, 11 captive-reared Mexican gray wolves were released to the wild for the first time. 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 17th anniversary of this historic event, a significant milestone for the lobo and wildlife conservation.

Learn how you can celebrate and download the free #LoboWeek Badge and photos HERE.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Friday, March 13, 2015

Save the Red Wolf

Red wolves are among the world’s most endangered species; with just a few hundred animals in existence (and less than 100 in the wild), they are classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as “Critically Endangered.” Only one place on the planet are wild red wolf populations viable and secure – North Carolina. But the state’s Wildlife Resources Commission has asked the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to terminate the entire red wolf recovery program in North Carolina which would inevitably result in the loss of the last wild population of red wolves and render the species “Extinct in the Wild” and set an extremely dangerous precedent that will negatively impact all endangered species.

Continued support of the Recovery Program in eastern North Carolina is vital to the long-term prospects of the species. And so we ask for your help.

There is a perceived notion that red wolves are a local or regional issue. Endangered species recovery, however, is a matter of pride and concern for all U.S. citizens. 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.


 Here’s how you can help:
1) Find your representatives here.

2) Look for a contact link and enter your information, write your letter, and send – it’s that easy!

3) If you’re not sure what to say, check out this example letter from Point Defiance Zoo. Thank you!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wolf Attacks More Myth Than Reality

 Alaska Representative Don Young recently suggested that we should let wolves "solve" the homeless problem in the country.

In an interview with Discovery News, Wolf Conservation Center's Maggie Howell helps to set the record straight. Read more - Wolf Attacks More Myth Than Reality.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Goodbye To Mexican Wolf Who Unknowingly Touched So Many

Dear WCC Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I share sad news about a special wolf. Mexican gray wolf F810, nicknamed “Scarlet” by her adoring fans, passed away today. Although F810 resided off-exhibit, the beautiful loba crept into our homes and hearts via webcam, opening the door to understanding the importance of her endangered kin and our efforts to recover them. Her necropsy (autopsy for animals) revealed that she died of a pyometra - a uterine infection not uncommon in older intact canids.

Just last night I shared video of F810 howling on the WCC Facebook Page. I loved her howl. She sounded just like her littermate, M806, whose howl once echoed within Arizona’s canyons. He fell victim to a poacher in 2012 after six exciting years running free on the landscape of the wild southwest. Perhaps he's sharing wild tales with his sister now... R.I.P. sweet loba. We’ll forever remember your song.

Thank you for your support,

Maggie Howell
WCC Executive Director

 Listen to F810 sing:

 Listen to her brother's song here.

Monday, March 9, 2015

John Jay Middle School Student Stands for B.C. Wolves

My name is Ashley.  I am a 7th grader who is passionately concerned about protecting our wildlife as our world can change forever if they are not protected and cared for in a proper way.  Not only does wildlife play a huge role on our ecological system, they are innocent creatures who do not have a voice.  If we are not able to protect wildlife, our world will be changed forever and the impact of these changes will permanently alter our planet.

Today, I'm going to tell you about a wolf crisis going on in British Columbia.  After learning about this crisis, I was compelled to do whatever possible to help bring awareness to this cause.  I spoke to my School Administrator and asked if I could share my thoughts with my fellow students and give a short speech about what was going on in British Columbia.  After doing so, there were many students who also shared my concerns.  As a result, many were willing to sign a petition to help stop this crisis in its tracks.

The government of British Columbia has begun a cruel and inhumane mission to restore the population of caribou, but what the government is doing is cruel.  British Columbia's government has planned an aerial attack to kill 180 wolves for the next two months, but that timeline can be changed dramatically to cause even more killings of innocent wolves.  They believe that because wolves' diets consists of elk, deer, moose, caribou, and so on, the wolves are targeting caribou.  As a result, the government of British Columbia believes the wolves are making the caribou population dwindle significantly.  By decreasing the population of wolves, the population of caribou will soon increase.  In this case, the government is making a huge, intolerable decision in solving this situation and is going to effect our eco system greatly in a negative way.  They have been saving millions of tax dollars for this shooting so they have enough funding to kill as many wolves as possible to prove their point that the population of caribou will increase.  You may be wondering why the population of caribou has dwindled so dramatically.  Well, the caribou's habitat is facing brutal pollution, construction, and public encounters.  The government itself is a huge participant in the caribou's crisis.  They are causing so much construction which is causing pollution, that caribou are soon dying because of it.  The government is causing their own crisis but does not want to be the blame for it.  So they need something to put the blame on and have targeted the Wolves of British Columbia.

Please, help us save these innocent creatures.  One animal should not have to die for another.  Help us make a stand for wolves.  We have to be the voice for wolves since they are not able to howl their way out of this crisis.


Ashley has collected over 1000 signatures already! Please consider downloading and printing Ashley's petition here and stand for wolves by collecting signatures in your community too.
The signed petition should be mailed back by April 1st to:
Wolf Conservation Center 
PO Box 421 
South Salem, NY 10590

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Celebrating Women of the Wolf Conservation Center

It’s International Women’s Day! So today we put just a few of the Wolf Conservation Center’s powerful females in the spotlight. For our final post, we'll let Ambassador Wolf Alawa speak in her own words. Enjoy!

Celebrating Women of the Wolf Conservation Center: Kaila

It's International Women's Day! So today we'll be putting some of the Wolf Conservation Center's powerful females in the spotlight.

Kaila was the WCC's first Ambassador wolf. She was born on May 2, 1995 and joined the WCC family as a young pup. She pioneered our education program and witnessed the organization flourish over one and a half decades.

Described as a real spitfire in her youth, Kaila grew warm and committed to the younger wolves when welcoming them to her pack. Despite forever dodging the spotlight, The quiet queen was a vibrant star and the keystone of her family. She occupied the lowest ranking in the pack hierarchy which by no means suggests that she was the least important or loved. It was Kaila’s role to furnish cohesion among her “brothers”, an essential characteristic for a successful pack.

Widowed twice over in 2010 with the passing of Apache and Lukas, Kaila continued to thrive and quietly win the hearts of our visitors until February of 2011 when her body showed signs that it could no longer persevere.

We said goodbye to Kaila on February 21, 2011 and later that spring she joined her fallen pack mates as a part of the Yellowstone landscape where they now forever dwell among the wild wolves that they helped people better understand.

We miss you, Kaila!

Video Tribute to Kaila:

It's International Women's Day! So today we'll be putting some of the Wolf Conservation Center's powerful females in the spotlight.

Mexican gray wolf F613 was born on May 8, 1999 at the Rio Grande Zoo. She was transferred to a USFWS pre-release facility and there at the young age of three the loba welcomed her fist litter of pups. She was released into the wild of Arizona in 2005. Sadly, the young loba was placed back in captivity after the documentation of non-aggressive interactions with dogs in combination with her production of the hybrid litter. In 2007, F613 gave birth to a robust litter of 10 at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and joined the WCC family with mate and pups later that year.


The following year (2008), however, was a tough year for the loba. Although F613 was able to celebrate the birth of six pups on Earth Day, later that fall her mate and companion, M566, fell victim to kidney failure.

F613 is a strong wolf. For the past seven years the single mother has thrived. Although she F613 will be 16 years this spring, she continues to wear the "pants in the pack," keeping her kids in check and having the honor of being first to eat when delivered their weekly road-killed deer.


Thank you, F613, for your contributions to your family and the recovery of your rare species. Learn more about the family here. Watch them via LIVE webcam here. ‪#‎InternationalWomensDay‬

Wild Time

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Leave Your Mark

Join red wolf M1803 and... 
Leave your mark 
On this World 
To make it a better place.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Rewilding the Northeast: Adirondack Explorer Talks Wolves

The wolf at our door

Originally published by Adirondack Explorer 
Monday, February 23, 2015 
By Mike Lynch
Wildlife advocates believe wolves could come back to the Adirondacks someday and want the state to facilitate their return.

Standing in a snowy meadow in Wilmington, a wolf lifts its head and howls, breaking the near silence on a cold winter day. Just a few feet away Steve Hall watches the scene, a leash in his hand.

The wolf on the other end of the leash is one of three owned by Hall and his wife, Wendy, a wildlife rehabilitator. The couple owns Adirondack Wildlife Refuge, and the animals are used for education, including popular “wolf walks.” During the walks, visitors hike with Hall and the wolves. Hall hopes the walks will give people a better understanding of animals that are commonly feared even though they rarely attack humans.

Hall yearns for a day that wild wolves return to the Adirondacks. He sees the wolf not only as filling an important role in the ecosystem as a keystone predator, but also as a tourist draw.

“We publicize the Adirondacks for summer hiking, fishing, hunting, winter sports, stuff like that, but also it could be a good place to see wildlife,” Hall said. “I think we should position the Adirondacks as another place to see wildlife a la Algonquin Park [in Ontario]. We’d start to open up to a whole new type of tourist.”

Hall is one of numerous wildlife advocates who are hoping state and federal wildlife agencies will work to facilitate the wolf’s return to the Northeast. Wolves disappeared from New York State around 1900 as a result of habitat destruction and unregulated hunting. Between 1871 and 1897, ninety-eight wolves were killed for bounties in the state, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Gray wolves are listed as endangered in the Lower 48 states, but largely because they have made a comeback out west, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed delisting them. Wolves also are on New York State’s list of endangered species. In December, however, the state Department of Environmental Conservation dropped cougars, lynx, and wolves from its proposed list of Species of Greatest Conservation Need. In the past, extirpated species had been on that list, which is part of the state’s Wildlife Action Plan.

“We feel that our conservation work is better directed at retaining viable populations of the species that are currently present in New York,” said DEC biologist Joe Racette, coordinator of the Wildlife Action Plan.

At this time, DEC has no interest in reintroducing wolves to the state. Gordon Batcheller, DEC’s chief wildlife biologist, told the Explorer that the department lacks the staff and funding to reintroduce or aid the recovery of large predators such as mountain lions and wolves. He also said the department already has its hands full with hundreds of other species in need of protection. Furthermore, he said reintroducing cougars or wolves would be a complex undertaking, requiring the cooperation of nearby states and support from a wide range of stakeholders.

“We just aren’t able to take this one on right now because it’s so huge,” he said. “We don’t have the capacity to deal with it, and it would take an awful lot of analysis and evaluation and public engagement before we even got out of the gate.”

Peter Nye, who headed the DEC Endangered Species Unit before retiring in 2010, said wolves didn’t have the public’s support in the 1990s, when there was a campaign to bring them back, and doubts that they do now. “We didn’t actively have any programs to even think about bringing wolves back,” Nye said. “It was just too contentious.”

Both Batcheller and Nye said wolves probably would migrate beyond the Adirondack Park to low-lying areas where deer are more plentiful. “That would immediately, of course, set up a problem for the animals in terms of people interactions,” Nye said.

Wolves are known to prey on livestock, and like other predators, they have a reputation for being dangerous to humans, even though only a handful of fatal wolf attacks have been recorded in North America.

Cristina Eisenberg, scientist for Earthwatch, an international nonprofit, lived in northern Montana and observed wolves recolonizing that area. “Wolves are not at all dangerous to humans in my experience,” she said.

“I’ve been around hundreds of wild wolves at very close range and they don’t see us as prey.”

“The only wolves that are dangerous, that have been documented attacking or killing people, are wolves that are habituated by humans to human food,” she added.

Even if DEC won’t reintroduce wolves, wildlife advocates are hopeful that someday the predators will recolonize the Adirondacks on their own. Over the years, there have been a number of reported wolf sightings, but physical evidence has generally been lacking. Scientists did confirm that a wild wolf was killed in Day, north of the Great Sacandaga Lake, in December 2001.

Wolf populations have rebounded and expanded out west. In the Great Lakes region—Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula—there are now 4,500 animals. And tens of thousands of wolves live in Canada.

“One of the amazing things about the past few years is all these animals—cougars or wolves or what have you—are just really showing us that their wildways do exist, these corridors, and most of these animals, they roam,” said Maggie Howell, executive director of the Wolf Conservation Center in downstate New York and coordinator of the Northeast Wolf Coalition, which was formed last year by scientists and environmental groups.

Wildlife advocates believe the wolf stands a better chance than the cougar of returning to the Adirondacks. Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park, which lies a couple of hundred miles to the northwest, has a few hundred wolves and even sponsors wolf howls for tourists. Wolves from Algonquin are the most likely to disperse to the Adirondacks, according to many observers. Nevertheless, there are obstacles.

“The eastern wolf is really close, but there is very aggressive hunting and trapping between here and Algonquin Park,” Howell said. In addition, wolves must cross numerous roads, including Highway 401 in southern Ontario, a fragmented landscape, and the St. Lawrence River.

Yet there is evidence that Canadian wolves can make it across the border. In addition to the animal killed in Day in 2001, two wolves were shot in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom in 1998 and 2006, presumably after migrating south from Quebec.

“And these are only the ones we know of because we killed them,” said Eisenberg, who is writing a book on eastern carnivore conservation. “From what I know, this is the tip of the iceberg, that there are many more that are making their way down, likely down from Canada, although some may be dispersing from the upper Midwest.”

Evidently, New York State has plenty of habitat and prey to support a wolf population. The Eastern Wolf Status Assessment Report, prepared for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011, concluded that “sizeable areas of potential wolf habitat exists in this state, especially in the area of the Adirondacks.” The report refers to several studies that reached the same conclusion, including one that estimated that the state could have supported up to 460 wolves in 2000.

If wolves do return to the Adirondacks, one concern is that hunters will mistake them for coyotes and shoot them. Like many states, New York has a liberal coyote-hunting season, lasting from fall to spring. Moreover, the state allows hunters to kill an unlimited number of coyotes and doesn’t require hunters to report their kills.

The Northeast Wolf Coalition argues that one reason DEC needs a wolf-recovery plan is to protect dispersing wolves from coyote hunters.

“There is evidence that wolves have attempted to naturally recolonize the region,” Howell said. “But because states in the region sanction policies that encourage the unregulated killing of canids, this evidence is in the form of dead wolves. New York needs a management plan to address the potential return of wolves, to promote wolf recovery, educate the public, and have a plan in place to protect wolves from being killed accidentally or intentionally.”

In the 2005 version of the state’s Wildlife Action Plan, which is being updated, DEC took more interest in the wolf. The report noted that wolves from Algonquin Park range to within fifty miles of the New York border. The report also discussed the need for surveying public opinion about wolf recovery, adding that identifying the wolf as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need “will facilitate the evaluation.” DEC never conducted the survey, and Racette said it is not a high priority now.

“It is possible that wolves will be able to naturally expand their range to New York from nearby populations in Canada, and if that does occur we will conduct outreach to help people learn how to coexist with wolves,” Racette told the Explorer.

Howell says the Northeast Wolf Coalition hopes to conduct its own survey, but she couldn’t provide any details because it’s still in the early planning stages.

Wildlife advocates contend that if wolves return, they will have a beneficial impact on the environment. “In pretty much any system where you have active predation, you will have higher biodiversity than in one where you don’t. This has been observed in oceans, coral reefs, savannahs, worldwide in many different types of ecosystems,” Eisenberg said.

Yet scientists debate what, exactly, the wolf’s ecological role would be and which wolf would fill it. Because canids interbreed, the wolf gene pool has become complicated. Algonquin Park has some gray wolves, which are also found in the Great Lakes region, but the majority of them are smaller eastern wolves, which may or may not be a separate species. In addition, the eastern coyote, which lives in the Adirondacks, has some wolf genes as a result of interbreeding.

“Wolf taxonomy right now is a mess,” Eisenberg said. “The experts don’t agree about what an eastern wolf is.” Indeed, it’s uncertain what wolf originally lived in New York State.

In the Adirondacks, hybridization would likely occur between dispersing eastern wolves and the resident coyotes, according to DEC biologist Jenny Murtaugh. In contrast, scientists believe that gray wolves, such as those in the Great Lakes, do not breed with coyotes in the wild and displace them instead.

“Thus, dispersing gray wolves from Quebec and Ontario may have a higher probability of avoiding genetic swamping from eastern coyotes and establishing a viable population in New York,” Murtaugh wrote for the forthcoming Wildlife Action Plan.

Steve Hall, the owner of the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge, acknowledges that wolves may breed with coyotes in the Adirondacks, but he still argues that their presence would make the Park a wilder place.

“I don’t really go along with the idea that we have to have pure gray wolves, pure Canadian wolves,” Hall said. “We have an animal we call the coy-wolf, who is rather impressive and rather beautiful, and I think if we let wolves come back you’ll see larger coy-wolves.”

Hall said wolves would benefit the region economically, noting that tourists visit Algonquin Park, northern Minnesota, and Yellowstone Park to hear or see wolves.

In Yellowstone, where wolves were reintroduced in the mid-1990s, wolf tourism translates into $35 million a year in visitor spending, according to a 2006 report prepared for the Yellowstone Park Foundation.

Lake Placid resident Larry Master, a former chief zoologist for the Nature Conservancy and an Explorer board member, has visited Yellowstone Park to photograph wolves. “My god, I would love to hear wolf packs,” Master said. “People camp for weeks on end in late May, early June in camper vans with telescopes and spotting scopes with the hope of seeing a wolf, or wolf packs hunting. It’s an enormous economic boon for that area.”

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Let the Good Times Scent Roll

Winter is a magical time for wolves. 'Tis the season of romance and a time to romp in the snow! Enjoy watching Ambassador wolves Zephyr and Nikai as well as the Wolf Conservation Center's critically endangered red wolves show off their "moves" with winter wolf flair! Although we would love to believe that these wolves have been secretly working on their urban dance moves, this behavior reflects the typical wolf (or dog) response to an introduction to a novel odor. Scent rolling is method for wolves to bring information back to the pack. When a wolf encounters a new scent, rolling often ensues so when that wolf returns home to his family, he can share his discovery. It’s like bringing home a souvenir. Enjoy!