Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Strength of the Wolf is the Pack

Here's to You!

Every voice raised in support of wildlife and wild places can make a difference. And when we all work together we can make big things happen! It is because our pack, supporters and champions like YOU, that the Wolf Conservation Center has become a national leader in wolf education, advocacy and the protection of wolf populations in the wild.

So as we close 2015, we thank you for your support and rededicate ourselves to our mission. Because many challenges remain...

 \Wolves continue to be subjected to aggressive hunting and trapping in states where their federal protections have been lifted. Wild Mexican wolves and red wolves face serious recovery challenges that will affect their future success. Finally, if USFWS’ proposed national delisting rule is passed, it will threaten the recovery of recolonizing wolves that are just beginning to make a comeback in parts of their historic range.

But we won’t give up. The WCC sees a world where vibrant populations of wolves roam wild landscapes across the continent; where no species of wolf cowers on the edge of extinction; and where every child learns of, and respects, these essential creatures.

As a pack, we're making a difference. 

See you in 2016!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Celebrating The Endangered Species Act - 42 Years Strong

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed 42 years ago today 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.

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.

Although the ESA is often considered the most successful piece of environmental legislation ever passed, it remains contested and controversial, particularly on the question of balancing economic and environmental health. Sadly, many of the industries and special interests responsible for the original habitat destruction which inspired the ESA have been fighting for years to destroy the Act itself, and have seized upon the wolf and other politicized species in need as the excuse to finally exterminate it.

In recognition of this milestone, join us in honoring the values Congress embraced four decades ago and rededicating ourselves to preserve the spirit and integrity of this robust and effective federal law. 

Thank you, Endangered Species Act.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Wolf Conservation Center Mourns Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf F749

Dear Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I share sad news about a special wolf. Mexican gray wolf F749, nicknamed “Mama” and "Bella," passed away today. Although the F749 was rarely visible to Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) guests (she resided off-exhibit for most of her years) 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. She was strong and spirited until earlier this month when her health began to decline. Yesterday, she was unable to get up for food. We had to euthanize her early this morning.

Her necropsy (autopsy for animals) revealed that her decline was the result of intussusception. Intussusception is basically the small intestine telescoping on itself causing a blockage. Kidney failure was the secondary cause.

F749 joined the WCC family in 2009. She was flown from her home at a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Pre-Release Facility in New Mexico's Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge to our center in New York on a cold December evening.

Because the entire existing Mexican wolf population descended from just seven founders rescued from extinction, genetic health is the primary consideration governing all breeding wolf pairings. During her time at the WCC, F749 was deemed one of the most genetically valuable Mexican gray wolves in the country. Thus she was chosen to breed annually despite her poor record for raising healthy litters. Her most recent pups born in 2013 were among the very few to survive, a likely result of being hand-raised and then placed with captive Mexican gray wolf foster parents. Today her sons remain potential parents themselves. Mexican wolf M1298 (a.k.a. Mack) is getting the opportunity to breed this season at the Endangered Wolf Center. In February 2015, F749 was spayed and her remaining viable eggs are currently being conserved for future use in the Mexican wolf in vitro fertilization program.

Our hearts go out to her companion M1198 (a.k.a. Alleno), her sons M1133 (Rhett) and M1059 (a.k.a. Diego), and those of you who she had unknowingly touched.

R.I.P. sweet loba.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Arctic Wolf Treat Under the Tree

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Howlidays from the Wolf Conservation Center

'Tis the night before Christmas
And Santa is prowling
We know that he's close
'Cause the wolves are all howling!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Happy Winter Solstice

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Wild Predators: The New Normal of City Life

Predators are turning up in cities everywhere, and living among us mostly without incident. It's the new normal of urban living. They're living among people partly because they have fewer alternatives. And they're adapting to urban life quickly. But are humans equally capable of adapting to their wild neighbors?

We hope so.

"So we should hardly be surprised that predators and people wind up living side by side in cities. Cities have always been the salvation of the homeless, the unwanted, the wretched and the despised. The difference now is that these refugees come to us not just on two legs, but on four."

Read more from: Bright Lights, Big Predators - via The New York Times

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Wolves Howl Most To Those They're Most Bonded

Did you know that wolves howl more frequently to members of their family with whom they spend more time? This suggests that there is a link between relationship quality and howling frequency!

Learn more.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wolf Riders Dropped From Omnibus Bill

We asked for your help and you heard our howls!

Congressional leaders unveiled a $1.15 trillion fiscal 2016 spending bill overnight and the bill is largely devoid of policy riders targeting wildlife including proposals to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for gray wolves in Wyoming or the Great Lakes!

Every voice raised in support of wildlife and wild places can make a difference. And when we all work together we can make big things happen! None of this would have been possible without your support.

So as we close 2015, we thank you for this success and rededicate ourselves to our mission. Because many challenges remain...

But today... LET'S CELEBRATE!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Family: For Wolves it's Not An Important Thing, It’s Everything.

When it comes to wolves, it’s not about numbers. It’s about family. A wolf is a wolf when it’s part of an intact, unexploited family group capable of astonishingly beautiful and complex cooperative behaviors and unique traditions. If a family group is left unexploited (that is, not trapped, shot, poisoned or otherwise killed by humans) it will develop extraordinary traditions for hunting, pup-rearing, and social behaviors that are finely tuned to its precise environment and that are unique to that particular long-lived family group.

Read more of Gordon Haber’s Insights into Alaska’s Most Misunderstood Animal.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Study Concludes that Coyote Sterilization Program Successfully Safeguarding Red Wolf Genetics

A new study finds that using the “placeholder” concept to reduce genetic introgression of red wolves is working!

 A main threat to the last remaining wild red wolf population comes from coyotes, which mate with the wolves to produce fertile hybrids. A new study has concluded, however, that there is a solution! Biologists have successfully prevented coyotes from interbreeding with red wolves by sterilizing coyotes and allowing them to act as “placeholders” to occupy territory until they displaced by a wolf. 

Learn more: Efforts to prevent ‘coywolf’ hybrids is working, study finds via Science.

The question now is whether the 15-year placeholder plan will continue... The finding of this program's success comes as state and federal officials mull whether to terminate the red wolf recovery program in North Carolina and thus render the red

Monday, December 7, 2015

Critically Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf Born in Westchester, NY Released in the Wild

The Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) is celebrating a small victory this month on behalf of the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf!

The combined and ongoing efforts to support and grow the wild population Mexican gray wolves resulted in the release of six wolves (parents and four pups born this spring) into the wild in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental! The adult male in the family, Mexican gray wolf “M1141,” was born at the WCC with the goal of wild release. “With this release, we are attempting to augment the breeding wolf population in Mexico and also expand its genetic diversity,” explained WCC director Maggie Howell. “The importance of a keystone predator such as the Mexican wolf to a balanced and resilient ecosystem is undeniable and we’re honored to be a part of the effort to preserve North America’s wild heritage.”

The seven-year-old is one of six Mexican wolves born at the WCC in 2008, and although an average of 10,000 guests visit the Center annually, visitors have never seen him. M1141 is among the fluctuating population of rare wolves who have lived off-exhibit within the WCC's 16-acre Endangered Species Facility - a natural environment where these incredibly elusive creatures can reside with minimal human contact. This setting and a strict diet of whole carcass road killed deer safeguards their natural behavior and best prepares the endangered wolves for a wild future.

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 largest holding facilities for Mexican gray wolves and three wolves from the Center have been given the extraordinary opportunity to resume their rightful place on the wild landscape.

The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) or “lobo” is the most genetically distinct subspecies of gray 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 of Arizona as part of a federal reintroduction program under the Endangered Species Act. A second reintroduction project was initiated in the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico in October of 2011 and in the spring of 2014, the first pups in over 30 years were born in the wild of Mexico as a result of this new reestablishment effort. Today in the U.S., there remains a single wild population comprising only 109 individuals. Unfortunately artificial boundaries, state politics, and illegal killings continue to put recovery in a choke-hold.

The Wolf Conservation Center a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit environmental education organization located in South Salem, NY. The WCC is 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.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Simulated Archaeological Site Research at the Wolf Conservation Center: The Bones that Got Away

Chew on this!

Archaeologists dig up other peoples’ trash to try to say something interesting about them. But often other creatures came between the people who discarded the trash in the past, and the archaeologists who dig the trash up today. These creatures were often carnivores, who found tasty tidbits in the food debris that people left behind.


At the Wolf Conservation Center, Prof. Tom Plummer from Queens College, City University of New York and students laid out deer bones to simulate the residues from an archaeological site. Meat was cut off the limb bones, vertebral segments, ribs, and girdle bones, and additionally the limb bones were broken open to remove fat-rich marrow. This mimicked the butchery practices of humans and human ancestors known from archaeological sites around the world. The fragments from these processed bones were laid out in a grid in the enclosures of the ambassador wolves, who were then given leave to eat what they wanted for several days. Once the wolves lost interest in the bones, they were collected by Plummer and his team. By comparing the bones that were laid out with the ones that were recovered after wolf snacking, Plummer will be able to assess how wolf activity altered the simulated archaeological site bone assemblage. This in turn will help Plummer infer how carnivore activity may have altered bone assemblages from prehistoric sites.

 Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Play Like a Wolf

Although the most famous form of wolf communication is howling, wolves "talk" to one another in several ways. Wolves use body language to convey the rules of the pack, communicate intentions, and also initiate fun! When seeking to play, wolves will dance and bow playfully. Playtime can also include a game of chase, jaw sparring, and varied vocalizations. For wolves, playtime isn’t only fun, it strengthens family bonds.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

You Heard Our Howls! Thank You!

You did it! Yesterday the Wolf Conservation Center invited you to be a part of Giving Tuesday and you heard our howls! Over 400 supporters helped the WCC raise $45,356 and meet our matching grant of $20,000! We are humbled by your support and incredibly grateful for the generous matching grant provided by the Toscano family that gave your gifts an even bigger impact.

Thanks again for your encouragement and your commitment to wolves, ecosystem education, species preservation, and environmental advocacy!

Ambassador Wolf Atka howls his gratitude too!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

70 Scientists Recommend Continuing Federal Protection for Wolves Under the ESA

Via an open letter, seventy scientists and scholars have recommended continuing federal protection for wolves under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the Great Lakes region and beyond.

In the letter the authors state, “wolves in Great Lakes region should remain protected under the ESA at this time and until the legal requirements for delisting are met. Delisting is possible, if and when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uses the best available science that justifies delisting. Currently it does not.”

Read the letter HERE.

For further information please contact any of the following authors:
  • Adrian Treves, PhD, (, 608-890-1450 or 608-770-6873), Associate Professor, Nelson Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI 53705, Carnivore Coexistence Researcher, knowledgeable about all aspects of the letter
  • Jeremy T Bruskotter, PhD, (, 614-595-7036), Associate Professor of Environmental Sociology, The Ohio State University, knowledgeable about all aspects of the letter
  • William Lynn, PhD, (, 508-395-7764), Research Scientist in the Marsh Institute at Clark University, Senior Fellow for Ethics and Public Policy at Loyola Marymount University, ethicist and social scientist, knowledgeable about ethics and public policy regarding wolf recovery.
  • Michael Paul Nelson, PhD, (, 541-737-9221), Ruth H. Spaniol Chair of Renewable Resources and Professor of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy at Oregon State University, environmental ethicist, lead Principle Investigator of the HJ Andrews Long-Term Ecological Research program, knowledgeable about all aspects of the letter.
  • John Vucetich, PhD, (, 906-370-3282), Professor of Wildlife Ecology, Wolf Biologist, Leader of Isle Royale wolf-moose research, knowledgeable about all aspects of the letter

Donations to the Wolf Conservation Center Have Double the Impact On Giving Tuesday

Give Greater Today!

Why is Ambassador wolf Alawa smiling? Because it's Giving Tuesday! TODAY ONLY your donation to the Wolf Conservation Center will have double the impact thanks to a generous matching grant of $20,000 from the Toscano family!


Your Support is Critical.
Wolves continue to be subjected to aggressive hunting and trapping in states where protections have been lifted. Wild Mexican wolves and red wolves face serious recovery challenges that will affect their future success. Finally, the very law that is meant to protect endangered species - the Endangered Species Act - is under fire like never before.

But we won’t give up.
The WCC sees a world where vibrant populations of wolves roam wild landscapes across the continent; where no species of wolf cowers on the edge of extinction; and where every child learns of, and respects, these essential creatures.

So we need your help. Your critical support will help the WCC continue its commitment to ecosystem education, species preservation, and environmental advocacy!