Thursday, March 31, 2016

Wolf Advocate Ashley Shares the Stories of Fallen Wolf Sisters

F838_loboweek_sm
In July of 2006, Wolf Conservation Center Mexican gray wolf F838 was released in the wilds of Arizona. For the first time in her life, there were no fence-lines, no gates, just the vast wilderness to explore and bring back to balance.

Tragically, just a few months after her adventure had begun, we received dreadful news. F838 was dead - illegally killed. Two years later her sister, F836, was granted a life in the wild only to suffer the same fate as her littermate. Each wolf had only a few months to enjoy their rightful place in the wild. 

As we celebrate #LoboWeek and 18 years of wolves on the wild landscape of the southwest, we also mourn. We honor those lobos who died at the hands of heartless criminals. We honor the lobos who lost their lives and opportunity to contribute to the recovery of their rare species.

#LoboWeek is also a time to replenish. A time to strengthen our resolve to restore these essential creatures to their ancestral home in the wild and renew our commitment to the recovery of America's most endangered gray wolf.

Ashley, an 8th grader and member of the WCC P.A.C.K. Fellowship, shares the stories of Mexican gray wolf sisters F838 and F836.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Children Honoring Endangered Mexican Wolves on LoboWeek

M1133_loboweek_sm

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 Mexican wolf was once again greeted by the mountains of the southwest. This week, #LoboWeek, marks the 18th anniversary of this historic event, a significant milestone for the lobo and wildlife conservation!

In honor of this wild anniversary, dedicated youth advocates who founded Wolf Conservation Center P.A.C.K. Fellowship are putting the spotlight on individual Mexican gray wolves. They’re sharing their stories to help educate people about the remarkable contributions and sacrifice these lobos have made on behalf of the recovery of their rare species.

Calvin Shares the Story of Mexican Wolf M1133


Learn more about #LoboWeek here.

Learn more about the Mexican gray wolf here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Think Like A Mountain To Save The Lobo

green fire3_loboweek_sm 

In July of 2013, my then barely 6-year-old daughter and I participated in the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project's Paseo Del Lobo Big Lake Howliday Campout Weekend within Arizona's Apache National Forest in the Mexican Wolf recovery area.

On our final day of the fun and awareness-raising event, I brought my kiddo to the site that inspired some of Aldo Leopold's most powerful words from his essay "Thinking Like a Mountain."  As we stood on the very spot where this most influential conservation thinker of the twentieth century "reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes," it was difficult to fend off emotions of sadness, gratitude, and understanding. Is it possible that Leopold had realized the far-reaching impact his words would have?  As we sat where he long ago came to realize the importance of the lobo, I felt as if he had then imagined us walking in his footsteps to behold the inspiration of his revelation.  I explained to my daughter why the view was more than breathtaking, and without many words, she seemed to grasp its significance.

"Without wolves, the mountain is sick," she explained. "The mountain needs wolves." She got it.

Wolves are a critical keystone species in a healthy ecosystem. By regulating prey populations, wolves enable many other species of plants and animals to flourish. In this regard, wolves "touch" songbirds, beaver, fish, and butterflies.  Without predators, such as wolves, the system fails to support a natural level of biodiversity.  The mountain gets sick.

“I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer. And perhaps with better cause, for while a buck pulled down by wolves can be replaced in two or three years, a range pulled down by too many deer may fail of replacement in as many decades.”

This week marks the 18 year anniversary of the first releases of Mexican wolves back into the wild. It's been almost 20 years and there remains just single wild population comprising only 97 wolves. My hope is that one day my daughter will return to the Apache National Forest with her family to be greeted by the howls that these mountains will forever understand. But this won't be possible if we let history repeat itself.

The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) or “lobo” is the most genetically distinct lineage 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 the wolves were reintroduced into the wild as part of a federal reintroduction program under the Endangered Species Act. Today's single wild population of 97 individuals is a significant decrease from the 110 counted at the end of 2014.

The future of Mexican wolves is on shaky ground. 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. We need to hear the valid concerns shared by the scientific community and not let economic and political considerations govern lobo recovery.

For the sake of wolves, the environment, and future generations to come, it's key that we take the necessary management actions urgently required for the long term survival of Mexican gray wolves. Please consider signing the petition HERE.    

Conservation-Minded KiddosHonoring Endangered Mexican Wolves on #LoboWeek

M1141_loboweek

Eighteen years ago today 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 Mexican wolf was once again greeted by the mountains of the southwest. This week, #LoboWeek, marks the 18th anniversary of this historic event, a significant milestone for the lobo and wildlife conservation!

In honor of this wild anniversary, dedicated youth advocates who founded Wolf Conservation Center P.A.C.K. Fellowship are putting the spotlight on individual Mexican gray wolves. They’re sharing their stories to help educate people about the remarkable contributions and sacrifice these lobos have made on behalf of the recovery of their rare species.


Claudia Shares the Story of Mexican Wolf M1141.  


LEARN MORE ABOUT #LOBOWEEK HERE.

LEARN MORE ABOUT the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf HERE.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Wolves do not kill for sport. That is a fact.

Doug Smith, National Park Service's (NPS) director of the Yellowstone Wolf Recovery Project, leads efforts to monitor wolves in Yellowstone and has been with the program since wolf reintroduction in the mid-1990s. In this Q&A series posted by the NPS, Smith answers a range of questions on wolves including "Do wolves kill for sport." (10:15 - 13:30)


Doug Smith Sets the Record Straight

Do wolves kill for sport, or kill more than they can eat?

"Wolves do not kill for sport. That is a fact.

Why? The average wolf weight if we threw all the wolves together (males, females, sub-adults, adults, pups) is about 100 pounds. The average cow elk is 500 pounds, the average bull elk is 750. They (wolves) risk injury or death. When you attack something five to seven times as large as you, that ain't a fair fight. So they risk tremendous injury or death trying to taking something out bigger than them. So they (wolves) prey on things in risk averse fashion. They only kill what they need to exist, and we've got great data on this. Will they kill more than they can eat? If the risk equation balances out in their favor, they will. What does that mean. Late winter, belly-deep snow, elk are weak, they will kill more than they can immediately eat. But underline the word "immediately." We had a situation in March 1996 where one pack of wolves killed five elk in one day. And they cycled back and ate everything on those five elk in over a two week period. Now they were competing with ravens, and coyotes, and magpies, and eagles, because they were trying to consume it too because, as everybody knows, the bounty of nature is shared and competed for. So they (wolves) went back and tried to eat it all. But that is common predatory behavior. When you can get an edge, when you can get more food, humans do this too - when oil is cheap we burn more oil. When wolves can kill more elk they kill more elk because why? That equals more pups, But they only do it when they can. So on average wolves do not kill healthy elk. It;s too hard. Is all you can eat are healthy elk, the wolf population goes down. Wolves make their living on vulnerable elk. And so their population waxes and wanes based on vulnerabilities. And a hard winter is a vulnerability. But so are things like age, and health status, and condition, bone marrow... All these different things affect elf vulnerability and that's what's important to wolves and that what they're shooting to take advantage of. Remember they is no creature in nature that doesn't look for advantages. So no, they (wolves) do not kill for fun, but yes, they will kill for more than what they can immediately eat, but if left alone by humans (this is very important I get sent emails all the time showing an elk killed by wolves and not eaten - but there's tire tracks, there's human tracks, there's horse tracks... the wolves were bumped off the kill. People found the kill to take a picture of it. Left alone, as we've demonstrated here in Yellowstone, and we've seen it more, killing a couple of elk is sometimes fairly common. If they're not disturbed, they'll eat everything. They won;t do it immediately because they have a capacity on their stomach. So very, very important point - killing for fun or bloodthirsty reasons is not true."

Youth Advocates Honoring Endangered Mexican Wolves on #LoboWeek

CATE (2)

The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) or “lobo” is the most genetically distinct lineage 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, a new chapter in the Mexican wolf’s history began, with a homecoming that changed the landscape.

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 Mexican wolf was once again greeted by the mountains of the southwest. This week, #LoboWeek, marks the 18th anniversary of this historic event, a significant milestone for the lobo and wildlife conservation! 

In honor of this wild anniversary, dedicated youth advocates who founded Wolf Conservation Center P.A.C.K. Fellowship are putting the spotlight on individual Mexican gray wolves. They're sharing their stories to help educate people about the remarkable contributions and sacrifice these lobos have made on behalf of the recovery of their rare species.

Cate Shares the Story of Mexican Wolf F749.


Learn more about #LoboWeek HERE.

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

LoboWeek Returns

The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) or “lobo” is the most genetically distinct lineage 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, a new chapter in the Mexican wolf’s history began, with a homecoming that changed the landscape.

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 Mexican wolf was once again greeted by the mountains of the southwest. This week marks the 18th anniversary of this historic event, a significant milestone for the lobo and wildlife conservation!

In recognition of the anniversary, the Wolf Conservation Center joins #LoboWeek, an international week of action dedicated to educating people about the importance and plight of the Mexican wolf and the efforts to restore this critically endangered predator to its ancestral home in the wild.

“#LoboWeek is a wild holiday offering an opportunity to harness the power of social media to create a robust educational movement about the “Sentry of the Southwest,” explained WCC’s Maggie Howell. “Mexican gray wolves remain critically endangered due to both natural and political challenges. 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 almost 3 million followers on Facebook alone, our #LoboWeek howls are sure to be heard!” 

Please visit the WCC #LoboWeek Page to learn more about joining the movement and to download the FREE #LoboWeek badge and photos.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

When Wolves Meet the Easter Bunny

Happy_easter_sm

Ambassador wolves Alawa and Zephyr received some Easter enrichment with a little assist from our Kai the Easter Dog (A member of the Wolf Conservation Center's "staff pack"). Providing "enrichment" stimuli is vital in making our wolves' lives as interesting as possible.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Red Wolf F1563 Turns 9 Years Old!

F1563_Logo blog    

Red Wolf F1563 (affectionately nicknamed “Salty”) was born on March 26, 2007 and as of late she has been a very busy lady! It’s been non-stop parenting for F1563. It began with her her first litter of three pups in 2014, she turned it up a notch in 2015 with her second and more robust litter, and the maternal grind continued into the new year as she juggled the rapidly-growing members of her brood single-handedly.

The Species Survival Plan (SSP) management group for the red 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 red wolves descended from just 14 founders rescued from extinction. Genetic diversity is the primary consideration in the selection of red wolf breeding pairs and because their genes are well represented in the captive population due to prior breeding success, F1563 and her mate M1803 (a.k.a. Moose) were not selected to proliferate during the 2016. Finally, a well-earned break for a hard-working mama. Well… kind of.

To prevent breeding from occurring the red wolf parents have been separated since the winter months - M1803 and his yearling son on one side of their vast enclosure and F1563 stuck with all the rowdy kiddos on the other!



Thankfully, the F1563 is a pro. She skillfully keeps both order and peace among all of her “pups” even though each likely outweighs her diminutive build. F1563 is tiny in size, but full of might. Even her voice demands compliance, her husky howl is a proper token of her formidable spirit.

So here’s hoping F1563 celebrates her 9th birthday by taking a well-earned day to relax.

Happy birthday, red wolf F1563! Learn more about the importance and plight of the critically endangered red wolf and the Wolf Conservation Center's participation in recovery of the rare species.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Red Wolf Failure. An Irrevocable Loss Happening on Our Watch.

stare_peanut_red_logob  

"What a country chooses to save is what a country chooses to say about itself."

~ Mollie Beattie, Director, USFWS 1993-1996
The red wolf (Canis rufus) 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. In 1980, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) declared red wolves extinct in the wild. A few survived only in captivity, their wildness caged.

Over the last three decades, however, there have been efforts to right this wrong: to restore these keystone predators to their rightful places in our landscapes, in our hearts, and in our culture.

As a participant in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan, the Wolf Conservation Center has been a part of this effort for the past 12 years in giving the rare species a second chance by preventing extinction through captive breeding and supporting the North Carolina Alligator River reintroduction project by producing the wolves for reintroduction. The red wolf reintroduction was among the first instances of a species, considered extinct in the wild, being re-established therein from a captive population. In many ways the red wolf program was the pilot program, serving as a model for subsequent canid reintroductions, particularly those of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) to the American Southwest and to the Yellowstone region. Wolves are an American icon, and make our country’s wild lands whole and healthy. And the red wolf’s “homecoming” remains a significant milestone not only for the rare species, but for endangered wildlife conservation.

But history is repeating itself. Today we face an irrevocable loss and it's happening on our watch.

In September 2014, the USFWS announced that it would be conducting a review of the red wolf recovery program in eastern North Carolina, per request of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), to determine if USFWS should continue, modify, or terminate the program that manages the last remaining wild red wolves on our planet and thus again render the species “Extinct in the Wild.”

While USFWS continues to review the program (a decision is slated for summer of 2016), it has halted all captive-to-wild releases. Also remaining on hold is a key management activity—the release of sterilized coyotes to prevent hybridization. Although the Service reconvened a multi-faceted Red Wolf Recovery Implementation Team (RIT) last fall to address current and future needs to restore red wolves in the wild, the team was recently charged as having no intent of achieving its purported goals. 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 in decades.  Only 45 wild red wolves remain.

The value and importance of conserving species and ensuring biodiversity is an accepted axiom of the 21st century. The importance of a keystone predator such as the red wolf to a balanced and resilient ecosystem is undeniable. That our policies should be motivated by these basic scientific principles is a must.

Continued support of the Recovery Program in eastern North Carolina is vital to the long-term prospects of the species. USFWS Director Ashe’s has stated that the agency is committed to use scarce resources for species facing the greatest risk of extinction. Thus, is it not USFWS's obligation to adhere to the Endangered Species Act by strengthening its efforts to mitigate threats to red wolves in the recovery area (including human intolerance), and supporting the red wolf recovery program in the state?

There is a perceived notion that red wolves are a local or regional issue and that only the residents of North Carolina are impacted by the results of this review. Endangered species recovery, however, is a matter of pride and concern for all U.S. citizens. This is not an isolated issue for North Carolina. If USFWS abandons the program, it would establish a dangerous precedent - effectively allowing a state to refuse recovery efforts for endangered species if they don't feel like complying.

USFWS is charged by federal law with protecting the endangered species.

USFWS, do your job.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Lobo Love Bodes Well For Mexican Wolf Recovery

M1133_F1226_logo

It’s an exciting time for wolves and the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) — it’s the season of romance! Hormones are racing and earlier this afternoon we witnessed Mexican gray wolves F1226 and M1133 engage in a copulatory tie via webcam!

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. Genetic diversity is the primary consideration in the selection of Mexican wolf breeding pairs and M1133 and F1226 are a great match on paper with an extremely low inbreeding coefficient.
M1133_F1226_tie
The pair engaged in a copulatory tie (photo via webcam) 
Sometimes saving a species isn’t very romantic, but it turns out that F1226 and M1133 are also a perfect pair "off paper!" They're a vibrant, loving, and playful pair that make saving a species look like a whole lot of fun!

We won’t know the outcome of this union until  May. So until then keep your paws crossed that F1226 and M1133 will be making priceless (and adorable) contributions to the recovery of their rare species later this spring!

Join the couple via webcam.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Happy Vernal Equi-NOT!

Only 275 days until winter!

Happy_spring_2b_sm

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Arctic Wolf Atka has the Blues

What happened to winter? On this last day of winter, Atka's got the blues...


Friday, March 18, 2016

Kai the Wolf Pup Nanny Turns 10 Years Old

Kai_nikai_logoThe self-appointed Sheriff of the Wolf Conservation Center's "Staff Pack" turned 10 years old on March 15th! The 90lb German Shepherd is more than a pretty face, as a wolf pup nanny Kai held a critical role in socializing WCC

Ambassador wolves Alawa, Zephyr, and Nikai (pictured) during their puppy-hood. As Ambassadors, they help open the door to understanding wolves by forging a connection between the public and their wild kin. So developing a basic comfort level around people is vital to their becoming educational ambassadors and leading happy and healthy lives at the WCC. By providing canine companionship, Kai bridged the gap between the human and canine world, and helped the the wolves become the powerful players we know and love in the fight to preserve wolves’ rightful place in the environment.  Happy Birthday, Kai!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Ambassador Wolf Atka Goes Green?

Kiss_me_arctic 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The World's Laziest Wolf Howls


Alawa (the lazy howler) is a captive-born Canadian/Rocky Mountain gray wolf at the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) and one of the four 'ambassador wolves' at the WCC that help teach the public about wolves and their vital role in the environment.

She's also super lazy on an unseasonably warm day in March.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Spring Ahead...

...right back into bed!


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Nobody Does Sunset Better than Wolves


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Remembering Ambassador Wolf Apache

Apache tribute 2016 sm   Today we remember an old friend.

Six years ago today Ambassador Wolf Apache passed away at the age of 12. Although his powerful essence was hard to define, people understood it when they saw him. Apache was a head turner. When he howled, everyone listened. When he led, everyone followed. When he left, everything changed. 

The charismatic leader of the Wolf Conservation Center's first Ambassador pack had such a far-reaching impact on so many. He touched all who were lucky enough to hear his howl.

R.I.P. Apache. We miss you

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Critically Endangered Red Wolves Make Valuable Contribution to Genetic Health of the Species

M1803_logo (2)

The Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and Recovery Plan for two critically endangered wolf species, the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) and the red wolf (Canis rufus). The Mexican gray wolf and the red wolf are among the rarest mammals in North America; both species at one time were completely extinct in the wild. An SSP is a breeding and management program designed to ensure the long-term sustainability of captive-based animal populations. The primary goal for the Mexican gray wolf SSP and red wolf SSP is to breed wolves for maximum genetic integrity for reintroduction into the wild. Organizations participating in the SSP are tasked with housing and caring for the wolves, collaborating in the captive breeding program, sharing observations and recommendations for release, and engaging in the sometimes unusual measures to save the species.

Because the entire existing populations of Mexican wolves and red wolves are derived from such a limited founding populations (just 7 individuals for the Mexican wolf and 14 for the red wolf), genetic health is the primary consideration governing decisions re: reproductive pairings and captive-to-wild release events. It's also the reason that the SSP programs for both wolf species pursue an extraordinary conservation measure to save these species - gamete cryopreservation.

So last Friday WCC staff and volunteers set out to collect semen from 3 red wolves for potential future use. This is an important option when trying to maintain diversity with a species that was once extinct in the wild.

semen collage

Our first task was to capture the 3 wolves. In order to do this, the WCC team herds the wolves through their spacious enclosures and into capture boxes - wooden doghouse-like structures with removable roofs. Once a wolf is contained in the box, we transfer the animal into a kennel in which we transport the wolves to the Center’s Freund Family Veterinary Facility.

Thankfully for the wolves, they won't remember much beyond the capture. Semen collection from wolves requires anesthesia first, and then electro-ejaculation. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s Reproductive Biology Specialist, Ashley D. Franklin, Ph.D., led the procedure with the help of the WCC's amazing volunteer veterinarian, North Westchester Veterinary Office's Paul Maus, DVM.

Ashley was able to determine how productive each wolf was by examining each deposit under the microscope to determine the number of sperm, the proportion of sperm moving and the quality of their movement, as well as the percentage of sperm with normal shape and an evaluation of the abnormal shapes present. Ashley then stored the samples in "pellets" to prepare for cryogenic preservation at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.



So here's a breakdown of what the wolves produced:
  • Red Wolf M1566: Weight – 49.2 lbs. Sperm present but many broken heads and tails.
  • Red Wolf M1803: Weight – 74.8 lbs. Very productive collection - approximately 8.5 BILLION sperm. This was the most of the WCC males and possibly the biggest output from a wolf in Ashley’s career.
  • Red Wolf M2075: Weight – 69lbs. Successful collection
Samples were frozen in pellet form in dry ice and then preserved in liquid nitrogen.

Enormous thanks to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Ashley Franklin, North Westchester Veterinary staff, Paul Maus, DVM, our family of awesome volunteers! But most of all, we owe our thanks to red wolves M1566, M1803, and M2075 for making a very personal and valuable contribution to the genetic health of their rare species!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Red Wolf Panel at an Impasse

red_pup_no_quote_2 (2)

A panel organized by USFWS to help chart the future of the planet's only wild population of red wolves is at an impasse prompting one member to resign. The 13-member team is having trouble agreeing on whether the recovery program should be continued or abandoned. Termination of this recovery effort in North Carolina would inevitably result in the loss of the last wild population of red wolves, rendering the species “extinct in the wild.”

More.

As a participant in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP), the Wolf Conservation Center has played a critical role over the past 13 years in giving the rare species a second chance by preventing extinction through captive breeding and supporting the Alligator River reintroduction project by producing the wolves for reintroduction. The red wolf reintroduction was among the first instances of a species, considered extinct in the wild, being re-established therein from a captive population. In many ways the red wolf program was the pilot program, serving as a model for subsequent canid reintroductions, particularly the Mexican gray wolf to the American Southwest and the gray wolf to the Yellowstone region. The red wolf’s return could not have happened without the cooperation for the red wolf SSP, and its “homecoming” remains a significant milestone not only for the rare species, but for endangered wildlife conservation.

Do you think USFWS should save the program that is charged with recovering this critical endangered species?

Wolf Conservation Center Mourns Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf F613

RIP_F613 (2)

Dear Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I share sad news about a special wolf. Mexican gray wolf F613, affectionately nicknamed “Mama Gray,” passed away today. She was 16 years old. Although F613 was never visible to Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) visitors (she resided off-exhibit during her nine years at the WCC) 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.

Born on May 8, 1999 at the Rio Grande Zoo, F613 was the oldest wolf at the WCC and also one of a few wolves in our charge to experience life in the wild. In 2005, she was released into the wilds of Arizona. Sadly, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the young loba back in captivity after the documentation of non-aggressive interactions with dogs along with her production of a hybrid litter.

A new chapter opened for her in 2007 when F613 gave birth to a robust litter of ten at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and then joined the WCC family with her pack before the year’s end. The following months, however, proved bitter sweet for her family. F613 brought six more pups into the world on Earth Day of 2008, but she suffered further heartbreak a few months later when her mate and companion, Mexican wolf M566, passed away due to kidney failure, leaving her alone to raise her multi-generational brood of sixteen.

Needless to say, F613 was a strong mother and a powerful presence in her pack. For nearly a decade she kept her spirited children in check and until late last year held the honor of getting first claim of the family’s weekly feast of whole-carcass road-killed deer. But at almost seventeen years of age, her physical strength waned. And this morning her spirit too. It was her time. We euthanized F613 this morning. 

F613 lived a long life and I believe a comfortable one with her family over the past nine years at the WCC. We'll continue to shed some tears and some of you might too. But as we mourn, let us celebrate her vibrant and tenacious spirit, her compelling story, and the wild legacy she leaves behind. Our hearts go out to her children, grandchildren, and the many who F613 had unknowingly touched. RIP, sweet loba.

Thank you for your support,

 Maggie Howell, Wolf Conservation Center Director

Mexican Wolf Romance Bodes Well for the Species

M1059_1143_logo

It’s an exciting time for wolves and the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) -- it’s the season of romance! Hormones are racing and at least one courtship has already begun. Yesterday afternoon we witnessed via webcam Mexican gray wolves F1143 and M1059 engage in a copulatory tie!

The Species Survival Plan (SSP) management groups for both the Mexican gray wolf and the red wolf determine which wolves should be bred each year by using software developed for the population management of endangered species. Today’s Mexican wolf population descended from just 7 founders, and the red wolf only 14. Thus, genetic health is the primary consideration in pairing.
We won’t know the outcome of any of these unions until “pup season” in April or May. So until then we'll be keeping our eye on all three breeding pairs - one red wolf pair (F1367 & M1566) and two Mexican wolf pairs (F1143 & M1059 and F1226 & M1133) - in hope that we’ll see more promising behavior soon. Join us by tuning in to our live webcams to watch the elusive lovebirds!

Tune in!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Wolf 101: All the News That's Fit To Howl

Wolves are highly social animals that live in well-organized family units called packs. Cooperative living gives wolf families a number of benefits. It facilitates successful hunting, pup-rearing, defending pack territory, and more. Communication is key to successful group living and wolves communicate effectively in a number of ways.



Although wolves use varied vocalizations to express themselves, if you ask anyone about wolf sounds, it's likely the howl that comes to mind. Howling helps keep family members (or pack-mates) together. Because a pack territory range over vast areas, it’s not unusual for members of the pack to become separated from one another. Wolves can call to one another over great distances by howling. A howl’s low pitch and long duration is well suited for transmission on the wild landscape – a wolf’s howl can be heard up to 10 miles away in open terrain! Wolves can howl to locate other wolves, advertise the size of their pack or territory, to warn other family members of danger using a bark howl, and more. Just like us, each wolf has a unique voice so distinctive features of each individual's howl allow wolves to identify each other. And when every member of the pack joins the chorus, the singular howls and their harmonies give the listener the impression that pack is larger than it actually is. Also interesting, researchers have now found that wolves howl more frequently to members of their pack with whom they spend more time thus suggesting a link between relationship quality and howling frequency. Howling isn’t the only vocalization employed by wolves. They also bark, huff, whine, whimper, yelp, growl, and snarl.

New Study Suggests That Wolf Species Have 'Howling Dialects'

Researchers used computer algorithms for the first time to analyse howling, distilling over 2,000 different howls into 21 howl types based on pitch and fluctuation, and then matching up patterns of howling. They found that the frequency with which types of howls are used – from flat to highly modulated – corresponded to the species of canid, whether dog or coyote, as well as to the subspecies of wolf.

Read more via PHYS.ORG.