Monday, August 31, 2015

Elusive. Endangered. Essential. The Lobo.

Two critically endangered captive Mexican gray wolves (companions  F749 "Mama" and M1198 "Alleno") are cautiously curious upon discovering an iPhone.

The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) or “lobo” is the most genetically distinct lineage of wolves in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the most endangered mammals in North America. By the mid-1980s, hunting, trapping, and poisoning caused the extinction of lobos in the wild, with only a handful remaining in captivity. In 1998 eleven wolves were reintroduced into the wild as part of a federal reintroduction program under the Endangered Species Act.  At last count earlier this year, only 110 lobos remained in the wild.

The Wolf Conservation Center is an environmental education organization committed to conserving wolf populations in North America through science-based education programming and participation in the federal Species Survival Plans for the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf and red wolf. Through wolves the WCC teaches the broader message of conservation, ecological balance, and personal responsibility for improved human stewardship of our World. 

For more information about wolves and the Wolf Conservation Center's participation in wolf recovery,  you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram too.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Throw Your Friday to the Wolves!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Wolf Conservation Center Mourns Mexican Gray Wolf F1145

It is with a heavy heart that I share sad news about a special wolf. Mexican gray wolf F1145, nicknamed “Anastasia” by Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) volunteers, passed away today.

F1145 was born on April 22, 2008 at the WCC. F1145 never received the opportunity to take her rightful place on the wild landscape like brother and litter-mate M1141 will later this year. Nor was F1145 ever granted the opportunity to raise of family of her own. For all her 7 years, F1145 resided off-exhibit with her family in a remote enclosure where she unknowingly helped raise awareness for the importance and plight of her wild kin.

Wolves are naturally fearful of people, and a number of our Mexican gray wolves are candidates for release. Maintaining their timidity around people is essential if we want them to have a good chance of survival if released into the wild. The WCC’s Endangered Species Facility houses five vast enclosures which provide a natural environment where these most elusive creatures can reside with minimal human contact. Most of these enclosures are equipped with wireless surveillance cameras to allow WCC staff to observe food and water intake and monitor the physical well-being of each wolf without the animals’ knowledge.

Because these webcams are available for the public, F1145 was able to enter our homes and hearts via webcam, opening the door to understanding the importance of her endangered kin and our efforts to recover them.

WCC Curator Rebecca Bose noticed on Sunday that F1145’s muzzle was a little swollen. Normally this wouldn’t be alarming, however, fast-growing nasal tumors are prevalent among Mexican wolves. Since 1995 more than 25 cases of nasal tumors have been documented in the captive populations of Mexican wolves in both Mexico and the U.S.A. Although cancer represents only 3.3% of the causes of death in the registered Mexican wolf populations; 44.4% of these neoplasms are nasal tumors. In its great majority these tumors are locally aggressive but rarely metastasize. A genetic component is currently being investigated.

Bose noted via eyewitness account and webcam that F1145’s muzzle and face was becoming increasingly misshaped at an alarming rate. Early this morning, WCC staff brought F1145 to our lead veterinarian Dr Charlie Duffy VMD of Norwalk Veterinary Hospital where her cancer was confirmed. F1145’s tumor was very aggressive and in just days began to erode her skull. She is no longer in pain now. We put the sweet wolf to sleep.

Our hearts go out to her 16-year-old mother F613, her sister F1143, her brothers M1140, M1141, M1139, and those of you she had unknowingly touched.

R.I.P., Sweet loba

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Wild Interpretation of Rock Music

California Welcomes First Wolf Family In Over 80 Years

California Department of Fish and Wildlife released photos today of California's first wolf pack - the Shasta pack - since the state's gray wolf population went extinct in 1924. State and federal authorities announced Thursday that a remote camera captured photos earlier this month of two adults and five pups in southeastern Siskiyou County.

Read more via California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Will New York one day celebrate a similar homecoming? We hope so.

Recognizing the need to explore the need for this apex predator and the potential for its recovery in the Northeast USA, the Northeast Wolf Coalition was established in March, 2014 as an alliance of conservation organizations in New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut and beyond. The Coalition’s work is guided by some of our nation’s best and brightest conservation scientists to ensure the foundation of its work is based on the application of the best available and most current scientific principles. The Coalition believes the return of the wolf will reflect a more fully functional and wild Northeast, with wolves fulfilling dynamic and evolving ecological functions in the changing environments that comprise our region.

As conservationists in the 21st century, we are faced with the challenge of helping nature continue to heal and flourish for future generations. Thus, the need to explore the critical factors that affect the wolf’s return and its potentially positive impact to the natural biological diversity of the Northeast has never been more important.

The Northeast Wolf Coalition envisions an ecologically effective wolf populations in healthy, diverse ecosystems managed as a public trust across North America. Wildlife conservationists must be equipped with a foundation of knowledge and the necessary tools to proceed with due diligence when promoting wolf recovery in the region. Thus, it’s the a priority of the Northeast Wolf Coalition to first and foremost encourage effective trans-boundary cooperative relationships with federal, state, and provincial agencies, organizations, and the general public that lead to responsible best practices that promote wolf recovery in the region.

Learn more about the Northeast Wolf Coalition here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Federal and State Wildlife Authorities Should Educate Public About South Dakota Wolf

With what looks to be a gray wolf roaming the Black Hills of South Dakota, it's key to let hunters there know that wolves are protected by Federal law and killing one is a crime.

It's a MUST that federal and state wildlife authorities tell the public NOW about this federally protected wolf's presence so it can't be mistaken for an unprotected coyote.

Nationwide there have been several accounts where protected gray wolves are mistaken for coyotes and killed. And due to the U.S. Justice Department's "McKittrick policy," a detrimental "loophole" that prohibits prosecuting individuals who kill endangered wildlife unless it can be PROVED that they knew they were targeting a protected animal, these crimes go unpunished. Learn more.

Do you think it's incumbent on federal and state wildlife authorities to educate the public about this protected wolf's presence ASAP?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Wild Wolf Sighting in South Dakota?

Wolf Sighting in South Dakota?
New video captures what appears to be a gray wolf in the Black Hills of South Dakota! Read more.

Currently, wolves have returned to less than 10% of their historic range in the lower 48 states. But wolves do wander and if given a chance, they can establish themselves in area with suitable habitat and availability of prey.

In recent years, there have been reports of wolves from Canada crossing the frozen St. Lawrence Seaway into Maine, wolves traveling miles south into the southern Rocky Mountain states of Utah and Colorado, a pioneer and media sensation (wolf OR-7) who made the Golden State home, and a homecoming on the northern rim of the Grand Canyon where "Echo" broke new ground.

Run free and be safe. ‪

Sunday, August 16, 2015

New Mexico Game Commission Pushing Endangered Mexican Wolf Closer to Extinction

It is the mission of the New Mexico Game Commission “To conserve, regulate, propagate and protect the wildlife and fish within the state of New Mexico using a flexible management system that ensures sustainable use for public food supply, recreation and safety; and to provide for off-highway motor vehicle recreation that recognizes cultural, historic, and resource values while ensuring public safety.”

Yet in the last five years, the seven-member Commission appointed by New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has made decisions that are pushing the critically endangered Mexican Gray Wolf closer to extinction and has put a bull’s-eye on bears and cougars like never before. Read more via the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Should the Governor have the power to trump the science of saving a species? What say you? 

For those in New Mexico, please consider standing for wolves with our friends from at a rally during the next Commission meeting on August 27th. Lobos need our voices during this crucial time for Mexican gray wolf recovery. More information here.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Opinion: Cecil the Lion and Compassionate Conservation


Ultimately, how we relate to wolves, bears, lions, and other carnivores is determined by the social values and mores of the culture we inhabit. Increasingly, we are realizing our treatment of large predators is a test of how likely we are to achieve co-existence with the natural elements that sustain us.

Isn't it time we strive to live peacefully with other animals with whom we share space, and into whose homes we’ve moved? What say you?

Chris Genovali is executive director for Raincoast Conservation Foundation. Dr. Paul Paquet is Raincoast’s senior scientist.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What Species Would Survive a Mass Extinction Event?

What species would survive a mass extinction event? That's a good question. Now, scientists have announced that widespread species are at just as high a risk of being wiped out as rare ones after global mass extinction events. The ‘rules’ of survival at times of mass extinctions are very different from those at ‘normal’ times: nothing is ever really safe...

Read more via Science World Report.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Don't Sink the Ark - Protect the Endangered Species Act

WCC's Rebecca Bose and Maggie Howell with President Clinton

"I brought wolves back to Yellowstone." ~ President Bill Clinton

Yellowstone: The "little space" wolves were given in 1995 and 1996 when the federal government gave the green light to return wolves to portions of their native range in the West.  The reintroduction of gray wolves to our first national park has been described as a near-miracle, having occurred at one of those rare moments when stars align in the political sky.  A wildlife conservation effort with such positive environmental impact (and ongoing controversy) will likely go unmatched for a long time. But with the support of the American public and the critical protection for wolves afforded by the Endangered Species Act (ESA),  a new chapter in Yellowstone's history began with a homecoming that changed the Park.

Sadly what we are witnessing in Congress today is a full-fledged attack on our nation's most important environmental law despite the sentiment of the American public. According to a new national poll, 90% of American registered voters support the ESA, and 71% of voters believe ESA listing decisions should be made by scientists, not by politicians. And yet today's Congress is bent on challenging the integrity and weakening the effectiveness of this cornerstone of environmental law. 

Please ask your members of Congress to fight back against legislation that would weaken the ESA and push more imperiled animals to the brink of extinction!

Find Your Senators & Representatives here.

Please consider signing/sharing  Earthjustice's​ campaign to save the ESA here.

Download the Save the ESA Flyer here.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Red Wolf PupDate - Pups Get A Checkup

On May 2, 2015, red wolf F1563 (a.k.a. Salty) gave birth to a litter of pups. All of them adorable and each a valuable contribution to the recovery of his and her rare and at-risk species. Under Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) protocols, captive born pups must be checked during certain milestones in their development. We checked the pups at one day old to determine the size of the litter and take stock of their health, and then again at ten days, two months and again last week at their three month mark.

The Wolf Conservation Center staff and volunteers gathered early on Thursday morning to locate, capture, and “process” the pups. Our goal is to record heart rates and weights and administer wormer and the second of a series of three Distemper/Parvo vaccinations. As newborns, each pup could fit in the palm of one's hand. Now at three months old, the rapidly growing kiddos are all ears, legs and paws and thus much better equipped to elude the WCC team.


Based on observations of the pups' behavior via webcam, we were fairly positive that some of the pups would remain well stashed their favorite hiding place - a cavernous tunnel engineered by the pups themselves within the family’s deep den. And the pups proved us correct… We were able to wrangle only one of the five boys but confirmed after a bit of excavation that the other four fellows had hunkered down out of reach.

So out came the shovels and other tools to dismantle the den they customized so well. After two hours of digging, we the last pup finally fled the construction zone. Although we felt a bit guilty about dismantling the pups' creation, the tiny engineers were on the brink of outgrowing their underground labyrinth so the renovations are probably for the best.

Once all the pups were captured, Dr Charlie Duffy VMD, our veterinarian who donates his time and expertise to the WCC, thoroughly examined the kiddos and they all looked robust, healthy, and terribly to cute! All the pups also received a microchip linking each to his alphanumeric name. Wild wolves and wolves associated with a recovery program are often given an identification number recorded in an official studbook that tracks their history.  Letters (M = Male, F = Female) preceding the number indicate the sex of the animal and are capitalized for adult animals 24 months or older.  Lower case letters (m = male, f = female) indicate wolves younger than 24 months or pups.

  Here’s the breakdown from the exam:
• Male Pup – 18.8 lbs
• Male Pup – 18.8 lbs
• Male Pup - 16.6 lbs
• Male Pup - 15 lbs
• Male Pup - 14.8lbs

.Also on the day's agenda was to check on one-year-old F2074, affectionately called "Gracie" by her adoring fans in the WCC's webcam community, and an unusual growth she had on her hip. Last month the WCC team did a preliminary examination and determined that surgery was in order at the Doctor's next visit. So after catching the beautiful yearling, we kenneled her, brought her to the Norwalk Veterinary Hospital, sedated her, and Dr Duffy began the procedure.  The mass was determined to likely be a muscle herniation from bite wound to her hip. Very unusual.  The good news is it will no longer be a bother and Gracie is feeling fine and back with her family.

The pups’ next checkup will be next month but you can check in anytime! Follow the pups’ progress via webcam and let us know what you see!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Earthjustice: From Cecil to Echo, Slaughter of Endangered Animals Stampedes On

From Cecil to Echo, Slaughter of Endangered Animals Stampedes On

By Heather Kathryn Ross | Wednesday, August 05, 2015
Full article posted on the Earthjustice Blog

A hunter shoots down a rare, protected apex predator sporting a radio collar for study. Claiming his actions are legal, the hunter sparks a firestorm of criticism and renewed debate about protections for imperiled species. The animal we're talking about is Cecil the lion, lured out of the protected habitat in Zimbabwe where he was killed by Minnesota dentist for sport.

But we're also talking about Echo, a gray wolf who made headlines in 2014 as the first wolf spotted in the Grand Canyon area in 70 years.

Now the Endangered Species Act itself is in danger too. Ask your members of Congress to fight back against legislation that would weaken the ESA and put more imperiled animals in sport hunters’ sites.
Please Take Action Today

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Idaho Not Resuming Wolf-Killing In the Frank Church Wilderness This Winter

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural condition...” ~ The Wilderness Act of 1964's definition of "wilderness"

The Forest Service has notified us that Idaho will not resume wolf-killing in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness during the 2015-2016 winter. See this letter from the Forest Service with the formal announcement. 

This comes in response to a lawsuit Earthjustice brought on behalf of long-time Idaho wilderness advocate Ralph Maughan along with four conservation groups — Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project, Wilderness Watch, and the Center for Biological Diversity. 

Read more from Earthjustice here.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

New Species of Wolf Discovered in Africa?

Photo: Current Bilogy
New research reveals that although it looks remarkably similar to the Eurasian golden jackal, the African golden jackal isn’t a jackal at all!

The golden jackal of Africa (Canis aureus) has long been considered a conspecific of jackals distributed throughout Eurasia, with the nearest source populations in the Middle East. However, two recent reports found that mitochondrial haplotypes of some African golden jackals aligned more closely to gray wolves (Canis lupus) which is surprising given the absence of gray wolves in Africa and the phenotypic divergence between the two species. To test the distinct-species hypothesis and understand the evolutionary history that would account for this puzzling result, researchers analyzed extensive genomic data and results suggest that populations of golden jackals from Africa and Eurasia represent distinct monophyletic lineages separated for more than one million years!

They named the newly recognized species the African golden wolf, bringing the overall biodiversity of the Canidae family from 35 living species to 36.

 Learn more: Genome-wide Evidence Reveals that African and Eurasian Golden Jackals Are Distinct Species