Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Howl-o-ween!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mexican Wolves Meet with a Kiss

Two weeks ago the Wolf Conservation Center welcomed an new member to the family - Mexican gray wolf F1226!

Since her arrival, the 4-year-old is beauty has been settling in adjacent to Mexican wolf M1133 (aka Rhett) to allow the pair to get to know one another through the enclosure's dividing fence. Well yesterday the pair were officially introduced to one another and it appears they have good chemistry! This is a good thing as we hope they will make a valuable contribution to the recovery of their rare species by having pups next spring.


Our webcams were trained on the couple during their very first moments together. Big thanks to one of the a dedicated members of the WCC webcam community for sharing capturing these moments.

Genetic diversity is the primary consideration in the selection of Mexican wolf breeding pairs. The Species Survival Plan (SSP) management group for the Mexican gray wolf determines which wolves should be bred each year by using software developed for the population management of endangered species. This is necessary because all Mexican wolves descended from just 7 founders rescued from extinction.

We won’t know the outcome of their union until “pup season” in April or May. But in the meantime, tune in to their LIVE webcam and let us know if you see anything interesting!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Protect the Endangered Species Act



Controversial efforts are being made to reform the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Congressional lawmakers and Western governors want to legislatively overhaul the law as it relates to habitat and species recovery. Critical habitat must be preserved for species survival and recovery, and the suggested modifications can potentially lead to the piecemeal destruction of essential landscapes to benefit big industry.

For a comprehensive review, please click here.

The ESA was passed in 1973 because Americans believed that protecting our wildlife was an obligation to future generations, our nation’s environmental health, our fellow creatures, and the heart of the American way of life. It included wildlife ranges and habitats irrespective of political boundaries because these habitats, which are vital to species survival, cross arbitrary lines. Today, many politicians have forgotten the values Congress embraced four decades ago, and they now attempt to undermine one of most successful bipartisan pieces of legislation our country has ever adopted.

With extinction there is no turning back, no second chance.  Thankfully, the ESA has given thousands of at-risk species a second chance for over four decades and has worked successfully to prevent the extinction of 99% of the species placed under its protection.  A national poll conducted this year found that the Endangered Species Act is supported by 90% of American voters.

Despite its success and public support, the ESA is under attack like never before.  Some members of Congress have introduced dozens of legislative proposals that seek to gut the ESA, block its protections for wolves, other imperiled species and habitat, and obstruct our ability to enforce this federal law.

Please urge your congressional representative and senators to preserve the spirit and integrity of this robust federal law and to oppose any legislation that takes aim at imperiled wildlife!

TAKE ACTION

This action is open to U.S. residents only.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Critically Endangered Wolves Get A Clean Bill of Health



Autumn is here, the season for pumpkin spice and annual medical exams for the Wolf Conservation Center’s critically endangered wolves. People often ask us how we monitor the health of our wolves. Needless to say, the well-being of our wolves is a top priority, so we constantly take stock of their health, monitoring the shy animals as much as we possible in person and also via webcam. We also conduct periodic veterinary checks for hands-on assessments, vaccinations, and blood-work. Under Species Survival Plan protocols, our Mexican Gray Wolves and Red wolves must be checked by a veterinarian on an annual basis.

In order to examine each wolf, we herd the wolves through their spacious enclosure and into capture boxes - wooden doghouse-like structures with removable roofs. Once a wolf is captured in the box, our volunteer veterinarian proceeds with the exam. We administer vaccinations, take blood samples, and record their heart rate, temperate and weight.


Friday was the second of three health examination days and we're happy to report that all 4 wolves we examined (Mexican gray wolves F986, M804, F749 and M1198) appear to be in good health! 


Mexican wolves F986 and M804 have an exciting season ahead. Next month the pair will be transferred to a new home – Arizona’s Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center where the couple will be given a chance to breed. Although WCC staff and volunteers will be sad to see them go, we’re elated that the wolves will be given the opportunity to make a priceless contribution to the recovery of their rare species.

Big thanks to our great team of volunteers who came out for the task, to WCC's generous veterinarian, Kim Khodakhah, DVM from Miller-Clark Animal Hospital, and Mexican gray wolves who are unknowingly contributing to the recovery of their at-risk species.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Red Wolf vs. Night Intruder


A family of critically endangered red wolves living at the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) attempts to defend their turf from a trespassing camera and tripod. By nature wolves are very territorial animals and will defend the area in which the family lives, hunts and raises its offspring from other wolves.

The red wolf is one of the world’s most endangered wild canids. Once common throughout the southeastern United States, red wolf populations were decimated by the 1960s due to intensive predator control programs and loss of habitat. A remnant population of red wolves was found along the Gulf coast of Texas and Louisiana. After being declared an endangered species in 1973, efforts were initiated to locate and capture as many wild red wolves as possible. Of the 17 remaining wolves captured by biologists, 14 became the founders of a successful captive breeding program. Consequently, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service declared red wolves extinct in the wild in 1980.

By 1987, enough red wolves were bred in captivity to begin a restoration program on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern North Carolina.

The current estimate puts the only wild population of red wolves at their lowest level (50 – 75) since the late 1990s.

North Carolina remains the only place on the planet where wild red wolf populations are viable and secure.  But the state’s Wildlife Resources Commission has asked U.S. Fish & 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.

While USFWS, the very agency charged by federal law with protecting the endangered species, continues to review the program, it has halted all captive-to-wild releases and management activity critical to the success of this recovery program.

Please sign the petition to urge USFWS to restore the Red Wolf Recovery Program.

Sign here.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Wolf Conservation Center Welcomes New Mexican Wolf to the Pack!



The Wolf Conservation Center family just got a little bigger! Yesterday Mexican gray wolf F1226 arrived safe and sound after a seamless day of travel.

The 4-year-old is currently settling in adjacent to Mexican wolf M1133 (aka Rhett) to allow the pair to get to know one another through the enclosure's dividing fence. They'll be officially introduced to one another later this season in hope that they will make a valuable contribution to the recovery of their rare species by having pups this spring.

Genetic diversity is the primary consideration in the selection of Mexican wolf breeding pairs. The Species Survival Plan (SSP) management group for the Mexican gray wolf determines which wolves should be bred each year by using software developed for the population management of endangered species. This is necessary because all Mexican wolves descended from just 7 founders rescued from extinction.

We won’t know the outcome of their union until “pup season” in April or May. But in the meantime, throw back your head and let out a long welcoming howl for the newest member of the WCC family!

Mexican Wolves To Receive the Call of the Wild



Some GOOD news! In a direct snub to state officials, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday that it will release about 10 Mexican gray wolves into the wilds of southwestern New Mexico, even though state game officials have refused to issue a permit for the action.

Although the NM Game Commission has repeatedly sought to obstruct Mexican gray wolf recovery, it is the USFWS's obligation under the law to recover this species, and reintroductions into the wild from the more genetically diverse captive population are an essential part of that recovery process.

USFWS's decision comes after pressure from 43 groups including the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) along with scientists to call on Interior Secretary Jewell to hasten the release of endangered Mexican gray wolves in New Mexico. In a letter, we emphasized the urgency of the issue, pointing out that federal biologists and independent scientists have repeatedly made clear that without such releases, wolf inbreeding will worsen — crippling chances of recovery.

The WCC participates in the federal SSP recovery programs for the Mexican gray wolf and the red wolf, two of the rarest mammals in North America. Both species at one time were completely extinct in the wild.

Since 2003 the WCC has played a critical role in preserving and protecting these imperiled species through carefully managed breeding and reintroduction. To date, the WCC remains one of the three largest holding facilities for these rare species and four wolves from the Center have been given the extraordinary opportunity to resume their rightful place on the wild landscape.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Raising Awareness for Wolves With Webcams


Year round, visitors to the Wolf Conservation Center enjoy meeting Ambassador wolves Atka, Alawa, Zephyr, and Nikai, but the WCC is actually home to 26 wolves! Most of the WCC’s “other” 22 wolves, both Mexican gray wolves and red wolves, reside off-exhibit, but not necessarily out of view! Unbeknownst to the some of the wolves, live webcams invite an unlimited number of viewers to enter their private lives.

Before breeding season begins this winter, the WCC hopes to install three additional webcams and we need your help.

Webcams offer an opportunity for WCC staff to better care for wolves in their charge, raise awareness for an animal many may never see, and engage a global audience to become interested and active in wolf survival.

If you are able, please consider making a donation to help us in this effort. Every penny helps!

DONATE HERE

(Please add "webcam" in donation comment field) Thank you!

Why Webcams?

Year round, webcams offer a big contribution to our efforts.

The WCC participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and Recovery Plan for the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupis baileyi) and the red wolf (Canis rufus), which are among the rarest mammals in North America. Both species at one time were completely extinct in the wild. Under the aegis of the Endangered Species Act, reintroduction efforts in the past two decades have established small, wild populations of about 50-75 red wolves and 110 Mexican grays.

Organizations participating in the SSP are tasked with housing and caring for the wolves, collaborating in the captive breeding program, and sharing observations and recommendations for release.

Wolves are naturally fearful of people, and a number of the WCC’s SSP wolves are candidates for release. Maintaining their timidity around people is essential if we want them to have a good chance of survival when they are released into the wild. Our SSP facility provides a natural environment where these most elusive creatures can reside with minimal human contact. Although this setting safeguards the natural behavior of these wolves, it also poses a great husbandry challenge for our staff: How to care for animals that we rarely see?

In the spirit of George Orwell’s “1984,” the WCC uses webcams to observe food and water intake and monitor the physical well-being of each wolf without the animals’ knowledge. The cameras allow staff to study family dynamics and thus make the best recommendations with respect to which wolves are most suitable for release.

The cameras also give an unlimited number of viewers an opportunity to learn about these critically endangered species and our efforts to recover them. Thanks to the webcams, the Center’s educational reach far exceeds the boundary of its gates in South Salem, NY! The webcams have been wildly popular among people (and cats?) all around the world!

So sit back, relax, and enter the private lives of these fascinating creatures.

TUNE IN!

Monday, October 12, 2015

It's National Wolf Awareness Week!


National Wolf Awareness Week begins on October 12th! Wolves have long been shrouded by myth and superstition, this week provides an opportunity to opening the door to understanding the importance and plight of the keystone species. It’s a time to recognize wolves as an ESSENTIAL part of our natural landscapes and to engage others to become interested and active in wolf survival. Here's an introduction to the critically endangered Red wolf and Wolf Conservation Center's efforts to recovery them.

 (This video was produced in 2013. The status of the red wolf recovery program current estimated population of wild red wolves has changed. Please see below)

Take Action for Red Wolves

Red wolves remain among the world’s most endangered species. The current estimate puts the only wild population of red wolves at their lowest level (50 – 75) since the late 1990s.

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 & 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.

While USFWS, the very agency charged by federal law with protecting the endangered species, continues to review the program, it has halted all captive-to-wild releases and management activity critical to the success of this recovery program.

Please sign the petition to urge USFWS to restore the Red Wolf Recovery Program.

SIGN HERE

Friday, October 9, 2015

Wildlife Advocates, Scientists Call on Interior Secretary Jewell to Hasten Release of Endangered Mexican Gray Wolves in New Mexico


Genetic Crisis Threatens Unique Southwestern Wolves With Extinction

SILVER CITY, N.M.— Advocates for wild animals, along with scientists and breeders of endangered wolves for conservation, urged Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today to release five or more packs of endangered Mexican gray wolves into the Gila National Forest in New Mexico through the end of this year and into 2016. A letter to Jewell signed by 43 groups and scientists emphasizes the urgency of the issue, pointing out that federal biologists and independent scientists have repeatedly made clear that without such releases, wolf inbreeding will worsen — crippling chances of recovery.

“Federal biologists know they must release more Mexican wolves from captivity, but the Obama administration has permitted the release of just four,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Then the government recaptured one and shot another, and the remaining two also died — which argues not only for stricter protections but also for many more releases to ensure that some wolves actually add to the gene pool.”

Releases of wolves bred in captivity are necessary, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and independent scientists, in order to diversify the gene pool among the wild wolves. Inbreeding among the Mexican wolf’s wild population in the United States is causing fewer pups to be born and fewer to survive to adulthood.

“The longer we delay in introducing new wolves to increase genetic variation in the wild Mexican gray wolf populations, the greater our future challenge will be to ensure that this distinctive wolf survives,” said Joseph Cook of the American Society of Mammalogists. “Small populations with limited genetic variability often suffer from the consequences of inbreeding depression, Small populations with limited genetic variability also are generally less resilient to changing environmental conditions and less resistant to the introduction of novel pathogens.”

According to the latest census number, 110 wolves, including just eight breeding pairs, live in the combined Gila National Forest in New Mexico and Apache National Forest and Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona. Fewer than 15 wolves live in the wild in Mexico.

“When you have only a handful of founders and limited genetics to recover a species, you cannot afford to take your time with recovery efforts,” said Maggie Howell of the Wolf Conservation Center, which houses and breeds Mexican wolves for reintroduction. “The wolves are ready and the wild is calling. It’s time to release some lobos.”

“Mexican wolves are part of the natural heritage of all Americans,” said Mary Katherine Ray of the Sierra Club’s Rio Grande chapter. “The Endangered Species Act, which requires the protection and recovery of imperiled animals, continues to be a very popular national law. Though a vocal minority at the state level is attempting to obstruct the return of wolves to the Southwest, the Fish and Wildlife Service should proceed to release more wolves to safeguard their still fragile population.”

“As the principal agency responsible for ensuring lobo recovery, U.S. the Fish and Wildlife Service cannot sit idly by while one state’s anti-carnivore rhetoric and political scheming attempts to obstruct reintroduction efforts,” said Kelly Nokes, carnivore campaign lead for WildEarth Guardians. “It is past time that Service takes control and carries out its duty to recover lobos in New Mexico, as the Endangered Species Act demands.”

Background The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began reintroducing Mexican wolves in 1998 but only permitted itself to release wolves from captive breeding facilities into a small portion of the Apache National Forest, whose most productive habitats were quickly occupied by wolf families, leaving little room for additional releases.

This past January the Fish and Wildlife Service expanded the area where captive-bred wolves could be released to include the 3.3-million-acre Gila National Forest. The Gila is the fourth-largest national forest in the country and encompasses the world’s first official wilderness area, designated in 1924, that was protected from construction of roads. The Gila also supports thousands of deer, elk and other animals on which wolves prey, thereby overall strengthening such animals’ herds and preventing overgrazing. Yet more than half of this national forest has no wolves.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The American Society of Mammalogists is a non-profit, professional, scientific and educational Society consisting of nearly 3,000 members from all 50 of the United States and 60 other countries worldwide. The American Society of Mammalogists was founded in 1919 and is the world’s oldest and largest organization devoted to the study of mammals.

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. For more information visit www.nywolf.org.

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

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

How Wolves Change Rivers

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 almost two decades ago, a new chapter in Yellowstone's history began, with a homecoming that changed the Park.



Thursday, October 1, 2015

Assessing The Federal Government's State Of Scientific Integrity



Do you feel like scientific work is too politicized? Based on its own employees' assessments, 73% of scientists working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) reported that the agency gives too much weight to political interests.

A new report released today by Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), Progress and Problems: Government Scientists Report on Scientific Integrity at Four Agencies, reveals results of a survey of 7,000 scientists at four federal agencies—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The survey asked scientists about scientific integrity, communications, and agency effectiveness.



A significant number of scientists (46 to 73 percent of respondents across agencies) reported that political interests at their agencies were given too much weight in their agencies.  At 73% ,USFWS is the agency with the biggest problems with scientific integrity.  Many scientists told UCS that scientific decisions were being swayed by politics or that political influence inhibited their ability to carry out agency missions.  One respondent from NOAA said that scientific integrity could best be improved if the agency could “stop giving in to political and industry pressure when making scientific decisions.”

You can also find the report methodology, results, comparison with past UCS surveys, all of the open-ended responses to questions, and the survey instrument all online at www.ucsusa.org/scientistsurvey.

Read more here.

USFWS: The Federal Agency Charged With Conserving Endangered Species

Science has concluded that we have entered an unprecedented period of climate change and human-caused Sixth Mass extinction. Today we are faced with the growing challenge of helping imperiled species heal and flourish and supporting biodiversity for future generations. To succeed, it's essential that science drives Endangered Species Act decisions, not backroom politics.

Despite its success and public support, the ESA is under attack like never before. Some members of Congress have introduced dozens of legislative proposals that seek to gut the ESA, block its protections for wolves, other imperiled species and habitat, and obstruct our ability to enforce this federal law.

Please urge your congressional representative and senators to preserve the spirit and integrity of this robust federal law and to oppose any legislation that takes aim at imperiled wildlife!

Take Action Today