Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fate of red wolves, endangered in the United States, remains uncertain

Fate of red wolves, endangered in the United States, remains uncertain

Originally Published in Science
June 30, 2015
By Erik Stokstad

Can the red wolf survive outside of zoos? Is it really a distinct species? These are some of the questions that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) says it needs to answer before it can decide whether to continue managing the only population left in the wild. The agency announced today that it would spend the rest of the year evaluating its recovery efforts and conducting research on the controversial species, and won’t release any more animals into the wild for the time being.

Advocates are concerned that the agency is winding down its efforts to protect the wolf. “The emphasis and tone have moved far away from the conservation and recovery of an endangered species and seems to be preparing the public for its eventual extinction in the wild,” says Sierra Weaver, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Red wolves were nearly hunted to extinction in the 20th century. Biologists established a captive breeding population in zoos, some of which FWS released back into the wild starting in 1987. Between 50 and 75 red wolves (Canis rufus) remain on a peninsula in North Carolina. The main threat is hybridization with coyotes, which have encroached on wolf habitat. Until recently wolves were being shot by hunters at night, but a court banned the practice in 2013. Many landowners were upset, and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) promptly demanded that FWS take a hard look at its wolf recovery program.

After a review by the nonprofit Wildlife Management Institute (WMI), completed this past November, FWS decided it needs to learn more. “The scope of our feasibility review will be broader and focus on questions and issues related to whether the overall recovery of the red wolf in the wild is truly attainable in light of the challenges identified in the Institute’s evaluation,” according to a statement. The major hurdles flagged by WMI are the need for multiple wild populations, hybridization with coyotes, the integrity of the wolf genome, and land ownership patterns in wolf habitat.

FWS is coordinating its research with NCWRC. Gordon Myers, executive director of NCWRC said in a teleconference that an important improvement would be upgrading the radio collars of red wolves that are captured on private land. This would allow researchers to identify wolves that repeatedly encroach and not release them again. FWS will convene a meeting of experts to try to come to consensus on the question of whether the red wolf is distinct species. Some scientists think it is a hybrid of red wolves and coyotes.

The agency also said today that it would not release new wolves to the peninsula while the review is underway (although it hasn’t done that in a year or so). Also remaining on hold is a key management activity—the release of sterilized coyotes to prevent hybridization—that NCWRC had prohibited. In addition, Cindy Dohner, FWS southeast regional director, said that the agency will improve communication with landowners who object to the wolves and establish a stakeholder forum to work with state, landowners, and conservation groups.

Read in Science Magazine here.

Monday, June 29, 2015

USFWS to Announce Fate of Last Wild Red Wolves Tomorrow


 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to Decide Fate of Last Wild Red Wolves TOMORROW (Tuesday) Afternoon. The wrong decision could mean extinction.

USFWS Media Release Atlanta – On Tuesday, June 30, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Cynthia Dohner will announce decisions on the Non-Essential Population of Red Wolves in North Carolina. The announcement is being made after a comprehensive evaluation of the population and its role in the overall recovery effort for red wolves by The Wildlife Management Institute in November.

News release will be posted June 30, 2015, at 1:00 p.m. EST at: http://www.fws.gov/southeast/

Red wolves remain among the world’s most endangered species. With less than 100 in the wild, they are classified by 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 USFWS to terminate the red wolf recovery program there, a move which would inevitably result in the loss of the last wild population of red wolves and render the species extinct in the wild.

Tomorrow, USFWS will announce whether the agency will continue, modify, or end recovering this rare and periled species.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Howls of Thanks!

The Strength of the Wolf is the Pack

Earlier this week we asked for your help and you heard our howls! Enormous thanks to all who were able to contribute and help the Wolf Conservation Center recover from damage brought on by Tuesday's powerful storm. We are humbled by the incredible support from our pack - supporters like you.  THANK YOU!

The WCC's three red wolf yearlings express their gratitude by well, acting like wolves! In this video they demonstrate that one need not be a pup to act like one :)


Friday, June 26, 2015

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Authorizes Killing of Endangered Red Wolf

 

The Wolf Conservation Center's 7-week-old red wolf pups experienced their first destructive storm on Tuesday. Having a robust family to hunker down with no doubt brought them comfort.

 

Wild red wolf pups of a similar age just lost a parent. Why? Because USFWS, the very agency charged by federal law with protecting the endangered species, authorized the killing of their mother. Read USFWS' press release here.


To add insult to injury, the agency is poised to end the recovery program in North Carolina and thus render the species extinct in the wild.

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. The Red Wolf Coalition offers a sample letter here.

Please urge USFWS to give this rare and at-risk species the support it deserves.
Thank you!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wolf Conservation Center Slammed by Storm


 
Wolf Conservation Center staff, volunteers, and wolves are sharing a collective sigh of relief today. Yesterday afternoon a brisk thunderstorm with powerful winds ripped through the Center and knocked down dozens of large trees crushing several fences in their fall. Thankfully, the wolves are okay. WCC's endangered species facility which houses the majority of the Center's critically endangered Mexican gray wolves and red wolves bared the brunt of the formidable and quick moving storm. Although four enclosures were compromised, the wolves remained safe and contained. WCC staff and volunteers worked through the night to move wolves from damaged enclosures, make the pathways and roads accessible, and address the fallen fence-lines.

 We are so thankful for our dedicated team of volunteers and interns who rushed to our aid - what an amazing crew! Although they've been working tirelessly to remove fallen trees and erect damaged fences,a lot of work remains to be done. If you are able, please consider making a donation to help us in this effort. Every penny helps!

Donate Here

Some good news -- since our restricted area was impacted the most, all education programming will remain on schedule! Thank you!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day!

Red wolf M1803 (aka Moose) with his two rambunctious yearlings

Being a dad is so incredibly special, but it can also be exhausting. Perhaps that's why we have special holidays to honor the patience, hard work, and undying love that parenthood requires. Check out this classic video of red wolf M1483 eagerly waiting to see his then 6-week-old sons M1803 and M1804 early one morning in June of 2010. It's funny to see how often the new dad yawns and stretches, those pups ran him ragged! Try to watch the video in it's entirety, the loving reunion is worth the wait. Happy Father's Day!



Today little pup M1803 is all grown up now himself wears the badge of fatherhood. Join him and his 9 kiddos (including 6 seven-week-olds) via live webcams!
Live webcam.
Live dencam.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Red Wolves: The Struggle for the Iron Bone

For fans of red wolves or Game of Thrones or BOTH!



The 7-week-old red wolf pups struggle for the Iron Bone. Follow the pups' progress via webcams. If you see something cool, let us know! (Music: Game of Thrones theme song)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wiggly Red Wolf Pups Sleep on Sister's Face



On the morning of May 2, 2015 critically endangered red wolf F1563 (a.k.a. Salty) gave birth to a litter of pups – a valuable contribution to the recovery of her rare and at-risk species. The litter consists of 5 boys and 1 girl and live with Mom, Dad, and their 3 one-year-old siblings.


 Last night on the Wolf Conservation Center's red wolf den webcam, a global audience observed the initial reluctance of the now 6-week-old pups to make room in the den for their big sister. After spending a few hours with 6 wiggling, kneading, nibbling and kicking kiddos, perhaps it's the big sister who regrets moving into the den in the first place!

Watch the whole video, it get's better and better!

Follow the pups' progress via webcams!


Take Action for Red Wolves

Red wolves remain among the world’s most endangered species. With less than 100 in the wild, they are classified by 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 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to terminate the red wolf recovery program there, a move which would inevitably result in the loss of the last wild population of red wolves and render the species extinct in the wild.

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. Please email U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe and urge to save red wolves from extinction.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Senate Rider Takes Aim at Gray Wolves



On June 9th, the 2016 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill (a bill to fund Interior Department) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Buried in the bill is language directing the Secretary of the Interior to end federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Wyoming and thus allow trophy hunting of wolves to resume within those regions. To add insult to injury, the bill includes “no judicial review” clauses thus prohibiting any legal challenge.

Although Representatives Nita Lowey (NY), Betty McCollum (MN)Chellie Pingree (ME), and Barbara Lee (CA) vehemently opposed the anti-ESA and wolf delisting riders, they were outvoted and the riders remain.

Now the Senate 2016 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill includes a wolf delisting rider and other anti-environment riders too. The full Senate Appropriations Committee markup meeting is scheduled for Thursday so it’s critical that we contact our Senators TODAY to urge them to oppose anti-wolf legislation in this Congress!

Find your Senator’s contact information here. More information from Earthjustice here.

Policy decisions about wolves and other wildlife should be based on the best SCIENCE, not politics.

Responsible for passing appropriation bills, both the United States House and Senate Committees on Appropriations are charged with regulating expenditures of money by the U.S. government. As such, these committees are among the most powerful of the committees, and its members are seen as some of the most critically influential in our nation.

In this video from the WCC’s Wolf Reception at Winston on May 17th, featured guest Rep. Nita Lowey explains the significance of her role on the House Appropriations Committee as it relates to riders and wolves specifically.



Watch the unedited version of the video here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Congresswoman Nita Lowey (NY) Stands for Wolves

WCC's Howell, Rep Lowey, WCC's Massi
and Ambassador Wolf Atka 
HOWLS of THANKS to Congresswoman Nita Lowey (NY), ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, for speaking out against the anti-wolf rider attached to the 2016 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill!

Buried deep in the bill is language directing the Secretary of the Interior to end federal protections for gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Wyoming and thus allow trophy hunting of wolves to resume within these regions. And To add insult to injury, the bill also stipulated that the action would not be subject to judicial review thus prohibiting any legal challenge.

According to our friends at Earthjustice, both Rep. Lowey and Rep. Betty McCollum (MN) highlighted their concerns about anti-environmental riders in the in the bill at this morning's House Interior/EPA subcommittee appropriations markup.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

House Bill Rider Takes Aim at Wolves in Wyoming & Great Lakes



Do you remember when Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) successfully delisted wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountain states in 2011? It was the first time in history when a species was removed from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) via an act of Congress (law) rather than federally mandated scientific analysis. To add insult to injury, the bill also stipulated that the action would not be subject to judicial review thus prohibiting any legal challenge.

Now history appears to be repeating itself.

Legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today to fund the Interior Department will once again allow Congress to circumvent the scientific procedure for species delisting - a move which undermines the ESA and science.

Buried in the fiscal 2016 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill in Section 121, is language directing the Secretary of the Interior to reissue the two wolf delisting rules that federal courts found illegal under the ESA. In September of 2014, federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming were reinstated after a federal judge invalidated the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) delisting of wolves in that state. In December of 2014, federal protections were also reinstated for wolves in the western Great Lakes region after another federal judge invalidated USFWS’s delisting of wolves in that area. And just like the delisting rider in 2011, Section 121 includes “no judicial review” clauses. 

Policy decisions about wolves and other wildlife should be based on the best SCIENCE, not politics. 

Stay tuned...

Monday, June 8, 2015

Red Wolf Runt



On the morning of May 2, 2015 critically endangered red wolf F1563 (a.k.a. Salty) gave birth to a litter of pups – a valuable contribution to the recovery of her rare and at-risk species. The litter consists of 5 boys and 1 girl and it comes as no surprise that one is smaller than the rest. The runt is noticeably behind his sibling in re: to his physical development, but his personality doesn't match his stature. He might not be able to climb as high or run as fast as his litter-mates yet, but he knows how to score some one-on-one time with Mom and melt the hearts of the hundreds who affectionately call him "Peanut" while watching his progress via webcam. Follow the pups' progress via webcams.

The runt (Peanut) via dencam.
If you see something cool, let us know!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

With Six Red Wolf Pups - It Takes Two

Bringing up kids is tough work for most parents and for critically endangered red wolf parents F1563 (a.k.a. Salty) and M1803 (a.k.a. Moose), it takes two. Watch them pass the baton when it comes to caring for their 6 one-month-old pups. Yup. 6 one-month-olds...



 Follow the pups' progress via LIVE webcam!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Pupdate: An Important Milestone For Endangered Red Wolf Pups


The Wolf Conservation Center's critically endangered red wolf pups turn one month old! This is a significant milestone for the adorable six-pack. With their eyes wide open now, the kiddos are able to wander out of the den while staying near the den entrance and their menu has expanded to include small pieces of meat regurgitated by their parents and older siblings. Things are getting pretty hectic in their den. Their high-pitched howls are gaining strength and dominance and play romping has commenced!

The pups are growing rapidly so be sure to tune in to the Wolf Conservation Center webcams to follow their progress!