Saturday, April 30, 2016

Mexican Gray Wolf F1226 Turns 5 Years Old!

F1226_logo_2_smIn October of 2015, Mexican Gray Wolf F1226 (affectionately nicknamed “Belle” by the Wolf Conservation Center’s webcam watchers) joined the WCC family in order to meet a handsome “husband” - Mexican gray wolf M1133.

 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.

Sometimes saving a species isn’t very romantic, but it turns out that F1226 and M1133 are a vibrant, loving, and playful pair that make it look like a whole lot of fun! 

The unusually plump (er… big-boned) loba, is really quite stunning. And M1133 is a looker himself! And the attractive twosome bonded effortlessly. The day the wolves were officially introduced, a global audience of webcam watchers witnessed the lovely lobos meet with a kiss!



Their wild chemistry has continued to thrive, so much so that we’re hopeful the pair will make a valuable contribution to the recovery of their rare species by having pups this season. Here’s hoping F1226 celebrates her 5th birthday by making a priceless contribution to the recovery of her rare species by becoming a mother!

Happy birthday, Mexican wolf F1226!

More Wolves, Less Politics

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At least once a week I am privileged enough to hear one of the most rare and raw sounds: the howl of a Mexican gray wolf. The hauntingly beautiful sound pierces the sky and reminds all who listen of the wildness that surrounds us. Sadly, as evidenced by New Mexico’s decision to sue the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to prevent the release of Mexican gray wolves into their state, that wildness is rapidly fading.

My privilege only extends so far, for the howls I rarely hear are not the howls of wild lobos reveling in freedom. They are the howls of captive lobos that reside at the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY as part of the Mexican gray wolf species survival plan (MWSSP). These six lobos, each uniquely wild save the fences that enclose them, represent the future of their imperiled species. Each day they live and survive and unknowingly strive for a world with no boundaries, a world with only the open forest before them. For New Mexico to seek to prevent the release of a Mexican gray wolf pack is not only a disservice to the tireless efforts of all members of the MWSSP program but to all captive lobos as well.

New Mexico Game and Fish asserts they cannot stand idle and allow the USFWS to ignore the laws and regulations of New Mexico, but we cannot stand idle and allow New Mexico to ignore the laws of the wild. These lobos are meant to roam free on the site of their ancestors and if New Mexico refuses to grant them the freedom they deserve, it is only a matter of time before these primal creatures once again vanish from the wild landscape.

If the release of Mexican gray wolves into New Mexico is halted, the privilege I marvel at and remember fondly will become just that: a memory. Please stand with USFWS and strengthen the howls of all Mexican gray wolves so that their elusive voices may be heard by all, not just the privileged few.

Regan Downey, Youth Program Coordinator
Wolf Conservation Center

Friday, April 29, 2016

Spring Calls For a Wardrobe Change for Wolves

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Flowers are blooming, the trees are green, the peepers are peeping - signs all pointing to the arrival of a new season! Although the official start to spring can be found on the calendar, subtle cues from Mother Nature are indicators too! Ambassador wolves Atka, Alawa, Nikai and Zephyr have have been letting us know that spring has sprung - they've begun to shed their winter coats.

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A sample of the insulating undercoat
For weeks now their insulating undercoats have been falling from their bodies like sheets of soft wool to allow them to live comfortably during the dog days of summer. What triggers the shedding process? This time of year both male and female wolves have rising levels of a hormone called prolactin. Prolactin levels increase with the onset of long days, and during the short days of winter the hormone levels decrease. It is believed that prolactin has many key roles.


 High levels of the hormone contribute to the following:

1) Development of the mammary gland for expectant wolf mothers
2) Maintenance of lactation – helps milk production in wolf mothers
3) Promotion of parental behavior in both males and females and thus enhances pup survival
4) Shedding of the undercoat! So longer days alter the chemical makeup of wolves and help ensure that they spend the spring and summer months in comfort with their happy healthy packs.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hunting Wolves Near National Parks Leads to Fewer Wolf Sightings

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It seems obvious, but now there's hard science that confirms when wolves are allowed to be hunted near a national park, visitors tend to be treated to fewer wolf sightings. Furthermore, researchers say the study's conclusions can be applied to not just wolves but any large carnivore than moves in and out of protected park land.

National Parks Service estimates that wolf watchers bring $35M tourism dollars to the greater Yellowstone area annually. Based on this one would think the wolf's economic value coupled with its ecological importance would demonstrate good reason not kill wolves for sport surrounding the Park's boundary (or anywhere else for that matter).

Read the paper in full here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Court Settlement Provides Hope for Mexican Gray Wolves

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NEWS RELEASE: April 25, 2016 Contacts: Rebecca Bowe, Earthjustice, 415-217-2093, rbowe@earthjustice.org Steve Parker, Endangered Wolf Center, 636-938-5900, sparker@endangeredwolfcenter.org Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, (575) 313-7017, michaelr@biologicaldiversity.org Maggie Howell, Wolf Conservation Center, 914-763-2373, Maggie@nywolf.org Catalina Tresky, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0253, ctresky@defenders.org Preguntas de prensa en Español: Betsy Lopez-Wagner, (415) 217-2159, blopez-wagner@earthjustice.org

Court Settlement Provides Hope for Mexican Gray Wolves

Forty years after Endangered Species Act protection, government required to prepare recovery plan

Tucson, Ariz. — A coalition of wolf conservation groups, environmental organizations and a retired federal wolf biologist today announced a court settlement [link] requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) to prepare a long-delayed recovery plan for Mexican gray wolves by November 2017.

With only 97 individuals existing in the wild at the end of 2015, and fewer than 25 in Mexico, the Mexican gray wolf is one of the most endangered mammals in North America and faces a serious risk of extinction. Thanks to the courts, the Service is finally required to meet its legal obligation of completing a legally-sufficient recovery plan, with the ultimate goal of a healthy, sustainable population of Mexican gray wolves in the wild.

“The settlement announced today provides hope that the lobo can be a living, breathing part of the southwestern landscape instead of just a long-lost frontier legend,” said Tim Preso, Earthjustice attorney. “But to realize that hope, federal officials must take up the challenge of developing a legitimate, science-based recovery plan for the Mexican wolf rather than yielding to political pressure.”

Earthjustice filed a lawsuit in November 2014 to challenge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s multi-decade delay in completing a recovery plan for the Mexican wolf. Earthjustice represents Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, retired Fish and Wildlife Service Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator David R. Parsons, the Endangered Wolf Center and the Wolf Conservation Center in the case. Today’s announcement of a settlement agreement follows a September 2015 ruling by a federal judge in Tucson that rejected the government’s effort to dismiss the case.

“Wolves love to follow paths,” said former Mexican wolf recovery leader David Parsons. “Now, finally, the path to recovery for the critically endangered lobos of the southwest will be blazed.”

“After four decades of delay, a scientific roadmap for recovery of the Mexican gray wolf will finally be reality,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The recovery plan should trigger new releases of captive-bred wolves into the wild and establish new Mexican wolf populations in the Grand Canyon and southern Rocky Mountain ecosystems.”

The Service developed a document it labeled a “recovery plan” for the Mexican wolf in 1982—but the Service itself admits that this document was incomplete, intended for only short-term application, and “did not contain objective and measurable recovery criteria for delisting as required by [the Endangered Species Act].” Most importantly, the 34-year-old document did not provide the necessary science-based guidance to move the Mexican gray wolf toward recovery. Without a recovery plan in place, the Service’s Mexican gray wolf conservation efforts have been hobbled by insufficient releases of captive wolves into the wild population, excessive removals of wolves from the wild, and arbitrary geographic restrictions on wolf occupancy of promising recovery habitat. The Service in 2010 admitted that the wild Mexican gray wolf population “is not thriving” and remains “at risk of failure,” and further admitted that “failure to develop an up-to-date recovery plan results in inadequate guidance for the reintroduction and recovery effort.”

“We are racing extinction on the Mexican gray wolf,” said Eva Sargent, senior Southwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife. “The best available science, not political pressure, should lead the recovery planning for the Mexican gray wolf. We need more wolves and less politics.”

The plaintiffs joining today’s settlement agreement include two environmental education organizations that operate captive-breeding facilities that have supported recovery efforts by providing Mexican gray wolves for release into the wild. Despite their efforts, Mexican gray wolf survival continues to be threatened by the lack of a recovery plan to ensure that wolf releases are sufficient to establish a viable population.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail,” said Maggie Howell, executive director of the Wolf Conservation Center in New York. “And for these iconic and imperiled wolves, failure means extinction. This settlement represents a necessary and long overdue step toward recovering America’s most endangered gray wolf and preventing an irrevocable loss from happening on our watch.”


“Education is a key component to the recovery of a species, especially for an animal that has been historically misunderstood and misrepresented. Equally important is an active, up-to-date recovery plan for the species in the wild,” said Virginia Busch, executive director of the Endangered Wolf Center in St. Louis, Mo. “The genetic variability that organizations like the Endangered Wolf Center hold with the Mexican wolf population is hugely valuable for releases and cross-fostering opportunities in the wild. We are pleased to hear that the Service will be taking an active role in developing a recovery plan in a timely manner.”

REPORTER RESOURCES:
Background on Mexican gray wolves and photos for media use: Earthjustice.org/lobo 
Read the settlement document:http://earthjustice.org/documents/legal-document/settlement-court-settlement-provides-hope-for-mexican-gray-wolves-0
Read the release online: http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2016/court-settlement-provides-hope-for-mexican-gray-wolves 
Versión en línea: http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2016/dictamen-judicial-brinda-esperanzas-para-los-lobos-grises-mexicanos 

BACKGROUND: The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)—the “lobo” of southwestern lore—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 the wolves were reintroduced into the wild as part of a federal reintroduction program under the Endangered Species Act. Today in the U.S., there is a single wild population in the Blue Range area of Arizona and New Mexico comprising only 97 individuals, all descendants of just seven wild founders of a captive breeding program. These wolves are threatened by illegal killings, legal removals due to conflicts with livestock, and a lack of genetic diversity. Within the past year alone, escalating mortalities and illegal killing, along with reduced pup survival, reduced the wild population from 110 to 97 individuals.

The Service has never written or implemented a legally sufficient Mexican gray wolf recovery plan. Its most recent recovery team has done extensive, rigorous work to determine what needs to be done to save the Mexican gray wolf. Recovery team scientists agreed that, in order to survive, lobos require the establishment of at least three linked populations. Habitat capable of supporting the two additional populations exists in the Grand Canyon ecoregion and in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. The recovery team drafted a plan in 2012 that called for establishing three interconnected Mexican gray wolf populations totaling at least 750 animals in these areas, but the plan has never been finalized.

The settlement today requires the Service to complete a valid recovery plan by November 2017 and requires peer review of the recovery plan to ensure its scientific integrity. The settlement has been presented to the federal judge overseeing the case, who must approve it before the settlement becomes binding on the parties.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Color the World with Love on Earth Day

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TODAY is Earth Day, the 46th annual international event meant to raise awareness about the efforts to protect the planet and secure a sustainable future. This day underscores the ripple effect of each individual’s actions that benefit the environment to ensure a viable planet for generations to come. 

How will you celebrate?

The Wolf Conservation Center is joining an awareness-raising campaign created by young WCC supporter named Bria. The nine year old kiddo wants to color the world with love on Earth Day and hopes you can join! Color your sidewalks with chalk and then share the images on social media with ‪#chalkthewalkearthday. Let's show Bria how beautiful the world can be!

Learn more about Bria's ‪#‎chalkthewalkearthday‬ campaign here.

  bria

B'Earth Days Abound!

Happy Birthday to Mexican Gray Wolves F1143 and M1059


Mexican Wolf pups 7 days old
Eight years ago, the Wolf Conservation Center family grew. During the early morning hours on April 22, 2008, Mexican gray wolf F613 (affectionately nicknamed “Mama Gray”), quietly had six pups in her den and created a new holiday - "B'Earth Day!"

puppy capture 049 (3)The six newborn pups (three girls and three boys) were not only adorable, they were (and still remain) an essential contribution to the recovery of their rare species. As the siblings matured, opportunities came knocking. As a part of ongoing efforts to reintroduce critically endangered Mexican gray wolves into a portion of their ancestral home in the United States southwest and northern Mexico, U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) selected one of the siblings to be released into the wild! In 2015 Mexican gray wolf M1141 was paired with a mate and released in the wild of northern Mexico!

M1059 (2)
M1059
A new chapter opened for Mexican gray wolf F1143 too. She met a birthday buddy! Last fall she was introduced to Mexican gray wolf M1059 who was born on April 22 of 2007.

This is the first year M1059 (affectionately nicknamed “Diego”) is celebrating his birthday at the Wolf Conservation Center – the lobo joined the WCC family in November of 2015 from the Seneca Park Zoo. It’s also the first time he’s been able to share his big day with a lady!  


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 during last year’s meeting it was determined that M1059 and F1143 are a great match (on paper) with an extremely low inbreeding coefficient.

Mexican gray wolf F1143
Mexican gray wolf F1143


Sadly, just months after F1143’s new life with M1059 began, another chapter closed when her mother, F613 (affectionately nicknamed “Mama Gray”), passed away at 16 years old. But as life would have it, on the very day of her mother’s passing (March 2nd), F1143 and M1059 engaged in a copulatory tie – a necessary step to allow her mother’s legacy to thrive. The gestation period (length of pregnancy) for wolves is 63 days so we won’t know the outcome of their union until early May.

 So today we wish the dashing duo wild and wonderful birthdays and we’ll keep our paws crossed that the pair will soon have reason to celebrate with potential pups of their own.

Happy birthday, Mexican wolf F1143 and M1059!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Step Aside New Mexico, It’s Time to Release More Wolves

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Although New Mexico denied the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) application to release Mexican wolves into the wild in 2015, the federal agency announced on Monday its plan to release a single family of captive-bred wolves in the state and implant captive-born pups into wild packs via cross-foster events. USFWS opted to forge ahead despite the state’s objections explaining that it has a responsibility under federal law to facilitate recovery of the critically endangered species and that releases are a part of that effort.

Now New Mexico plans to sue. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish confirmed Wednesday that its lawyers have filed a notice of intent to sue USFWS over the agency’s proposed releases for 2016 citing the plan as “aggressive.”

Aggressive? The fed’s plan is anything but.

Only 97 wolves remain on the wild landscape (47 in NM), a significant drop from the previous year’s count of 110. Mexican wolves in the wild face not only illegal shootings, but also inbreeding from too few animals with few choices of mates. Inbreeding results in smaller litter sizes and fewer pups surviving to adulthood, all of which heightens the odds for extinction.

Science says that Mexican wolf recovery requires releasing more family groups into the wild. And the best remaining unoccupied habitat exists in New Mexico. Thus releasing wolves there is critical to boosting numbers and improving the genetic health of the wild population.

The unremitting slaughter by humans already drove Mexican wolves to extinction in the past. No species should have to face extinction at the hands of humanity, much less twice.

The lobos are ready and the wild is calling. It’s time to release more wolves.

Background

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 the wolves were reintroduced into the wild as part of a federal reintroduction program under the Endangered Species Act. Today in the U.S., there is a single wild population comprising only 97 individuals.


The Wolf Conservation Center participates in the federal Species Survival Plan for the Mexican gray wolf. Since 2003 the WCC has played a critical role in preserving and protecting the imperiled species through carefully managed breeding and reintroduction. To date,three Mexiacn wolves from the Center have been given the extraordinary opportunity to resume their rightful place on the wild landscape.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Ambassador Wolf Milestone: Happy Birthday Alawa and Zephyr!

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Throw back your head and let out a long celebratory birthday howl for Alawa and Zephyr! It’s hard to believe our rambunctious pups are entering their fabulous fives! An inspiration from their adorable start, the stunning siblings continue to thrive in their "Ambassador" roles. They open the door to understanding the importance and plight of their wild kin and remind us of our personal responsibility for improved human stewardship of our World. trio_family_logo

Two years ago the duo became a threesome when their younger brother Nikai joined the pack. As a pup Nikai was all over Zephyr. His big brother had become his favorite chew toy! Alawa wanted no part - babysitting is clearly not her thing. But Zephyr showed boundless patience from the get-go. He tolerated every nibble, pounce attack, and tail-tug his brother delivered. Zephyr is a nurturer.

Alawa is a survivor. She’s mastered the art of avoiding conflict and securing what she needs to satisfy her needs.

Although Zephyr is the self-appointed leader of the family expressing his status with erect posture and tail carried high. It’s possible that Alawa holds the same position in the family, albeit covertly. Most of the time Nikai exhibits his lower position through submissive/puppy-like behavior. With lowered tail and posture, he acknowledges his role and rank in the family hierarchy. He is often pawing, tucking his tail, and licking the muzzles of his siblings - some of the natural submissive gestures expressed by less dominant wolves. However, during the 2015-2016 winter season, Nikai tested Zephyr. He incessantly egged on his older brother until the two had it out while Alawa wisely and unsurprisingly steered clear of the mayhem. Thankfully it took only a few bumps and scratches for the boys to check their egos and have peace and order restored with Zephyr taking to the helm once again. And while the brothers licked their wounds, Alawa quietly thrived. Her fitness and position remained unscathed. Like a quiet queen.

So a new chapter has opens for our Ambassador trio. And what comes next only time will tell. But in the meantime, it will remain an honor to watch the family continue to develop into such powerful players in the fight to preserve wolves’ rightful place in the environment.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Legislation Poised To Allow Hunting and Trapping of Wolves to Resume

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Despite its success and public support, Congress just unveiled its 100th legislative attack on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in just 16 months. Nearly half of these attacks are attempts to delist or block a listing for specific imperiled species.

Since the start of 2016 there have been TWO new efforts to legislate wolves back off the endangered species list: 1) S. 659, the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act, 2) S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act.

If either is enacted and signed into law, it would strip federal protections for the wolves in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Wyoming and thus allow hunting and trapping of those wolves to immediately resume. To add insult to injury, the language in both amendments include a “no judicial review” clause thus prohibiting any legal challenge.

The amendments direct the Secretary of the Interior to reissue wolf delisting rules that federal courts found illegal under the ESA. Thus, these amendments pose not only to undermine wolf recovery, but also the ESA itself.

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

TAKE ACTION

Friday, April 15, 2016

Mexican Gray Wolf Father to be Trapped by Feds

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Inside sources indicate that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to trap an endangered Mexican gray wolf living in the wild in New Mexico and put him in a pen, likely forever, as soon as his mate gives birth to their first litter of pups together. She could whelp any day now, and trapping would immediately be underway.

Those pups may only know their father for a few days or weeks before he disappears. Notwithstanding human efforts to support the wolf mom and keep the pups alive, they will have a lower chance of survival without their dad.

The Fish and Wildlife Service refuses to release its written decision, citing “public safety.”

With Mexican wolf numbers in decline, the Fish and Wildlife Service should be releasing captive wolves into the wild as recommended by scientists, not taking them out contrary to scientific guidelines.

Please call the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Secretary of the Interior and insist that the wolf-removal order be rescinded and that the father of this wolf family be allowed to stay in the wild. (The wolf’s official identity is M1396.)
  • Sherry Barrett, Fish and Wildlife Service Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator: 505-761-4748
  • Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior: 202- 208-7351
  • If you are in New Mexico, please also call your two U.S. Senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and request that they intervene with the Interior Department to stop this wolf trapping operation: 202-224-3121 (Capitol switchboard).

Background Information:

The wolf pair is living in the Gila National Forest. The targeted male wolf, given the name “Guardian” in a children’s pup-naming contest after his birth two years ago, comes from the Fox Mountain Pack – a wolf family that has endured repeated government persecution. Last year, Guardian’s brother was trapped by the government, and two years before their birth, the alpha female of the pack was trapped too; she never saw her family again and died in captivity after years of forlorn pacing of the fence that kept her from freedom.

Guardian is to be removed for killing cattle. But, while livestock owners are compensated for livestock lost to wolves, and offered financial and logistical assistance with depredation avoidance measures, there is no corresponding requirement for livestock owners to take measures to protect their cattle from depredations, or to remove livestock carcasses on public lands that can be scavenged by wolves, which is known to habituate wolves to prey on stock. This may have happened in this case, as the carcasses of two cows that died from calving complications were found in this area in February.

Last year, Mexican wolf numbers in Arizona and New Mexico decreased by 12% from 110 to 97 animals. There were only six breeding pairs. Three wolves have already died this year, including two accidentally killed by government managers in the course of trapping.

Fish and Wildlife Service routinely announces that it intends to release wolves from the captive breeding population but in deference to livestock industry opposition, rarely actually does so. Only four captive-bred wolves have been released during the entire Obama presidency; three are dead, including one killed by the government, and the fourth was trapped and placed back in captivity.

For more information, email info@mexicanwolves.org

Milestone for Critically Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf M1133

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Birthdays abound! Wolves are mono-estrus, breeding only once a year during the winter months. So springtime is birthday season! Today we celebrate Mexican gray wolf M1133!

In October of 2015, Mexican Gray Wolf M1133 (affectionately nicknamed “Rhett” by the Wolf Conservation Center’s community of webcam watchers) met a voluptuous loba – Mexican gray wolf F1226.



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.

Sometimes saving a species isn’t very romantic, but it turns out that M1133 and F1226 are a vibrant, loving, and playful pair that make it look like a whole lot of fun!

The terrific twosome bonded effortlessly. The day the wolves were officially introduced, a global audience witnessed (via webcam) the lovely lobos meet with a kiss! Their wild chemistry has continued to thrive, so much so that we’re hopeful the pair will make a valuable contribution to the recovery of their rare species by having pups this season.

Here’s hoping M1133 celebrates his 8th birthday by making a priceless contribution to the recovery of his rare species by becoming a dad!

Happy birthday, Mexican wolf M1133!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ambassador Wolf Nikai Turns Two Years Old!

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Throw back your head and let out a long celebratory birthday howl for Nikai! Welcome to the terrific twos, kiddo! The Wolf Conservation Center‘s youngest Ambassador has been an inspiration from his adorable start. Within a month of joining the WCC family the little beast huffed, puffed, and hiccuped his way into the hearts and minds of a global audience. His viral video “Wolf Pup Hiccups” almost broke the internet!



Today the stunning ambassador continues to awe and help open the door to understanding wolves by forging a connection between the public and his wild kin. Although he remains a “ladies man,” having yet to completely outgrow his uneasiness around men, his trepidation is natural and his behavior offers WCC guests a glimpse of how elusive wolves naturally are.

Physically Nikai is no longer the baby of the family; he has become equal in stature to older siblings Alawa and Zephyr. He does, however, remain the “child” within the family hierarchy. Zephyr is the self-appointed leader of the family - expressing his status with erect posture and tail carried high. Most of the time Nikai exhibits his lower position through submissive/puppy-like behavior. With lowered tail and posture, he acknowledges his role and rank in the family order. He is often pawing, tucking his tail, and licking the muzzles of his siblings - some of the natural submissive gestures expressed by less dominant wolves. However, during the winter months Nikai did test Zephyr. He incessantly egged on his older brother until the two had it out while Alawa wisely steered clear of the mayhem. Thankfully it took only a few bumps and scratches to return peace and order to the pack with Zephyr at the helm once again.

So a new chapter opens for our Ambassador trio. And what an honor to watch the family transition into such powerful players in the fight to preserve wolves’ rightful place in the environment.

Help support the Wolf Conservation Center's efforts to protect and preserve wolf populations in North America by adopting the birthday boy! We offer several adoption levels. No matter what the level, each adoption kit includes an 8x10 wolf photo, wolf biography, adoption certificate and a subscription to our newsletter. Learn more.

Happy Birthday, Nikai!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Why the Surplus Killing at a Wyoming Feedground Isn't the Big Story We Should Be Talking About

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Predictions re: wolves wiping out elk have been around for 20 years in Wyoming, but wolves are obviously no threat. Elk numbers keep growing.

In all the concern re: elk, one doomsday scenario is real -- the relentless spread of ALWAYS lethal chronic wasting disease (CWD). The Wyoming state government has found itself politically incapable of taking action to halt CWD’s advance, the disease has crept to just nine miles from Yellowstone Park. Science tells us that winter feedgrounds are hotbeds for disease transmission. Thus the most important thing that should be done to save elk is to shut the ill-conceived and outdated feedground system down.

The biggest irony is that when wolves killed 19 elk at an elk feedground last month, not only did the media miss the bigger story, they pegged the very agents who can help save elk the villains. Wolves and their proclivity to kill sick elk, are the only thing in Wyoming holding back CWD, the very thing threatening to doom the prey species.

More via Wolves kill 19 sick elk in Wyoming, an opinion piece by Dr. Ralph Maughan for the Idaho State Journal.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Captive Born Lobo Leaves Wild Legacy

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Mexican wolves M805 (front), littermate of M806, and F837, littermate of F838, at the WCC

On July 6, 2012, Arizona Game and Fish Department found the body of Mexican Gray Wolf M806, aka "Laredo," near Big Lake in the Apache and Sitgreaves National Forests. He body was discovered exactly six years after the captive lobo was released in the wild with his then mate, F838, from the Wolf Conservation Center. Tragedy struck their family early. F838 was illegally killed just months after their release. But a new chapter opened for the lobo when he joined the Bluestem pack and became the alpha male. In this role M806 proved fruitful for many years and prospered in spite of the natural and unnatural challenges he'd encountered in the wild. RIP M806.

You left your mark. Listen to the lobo's howl here.

 A Special Tribute By Jean Ossorio

Adjusting to life in the wild can be a daunting task for a Mexican gray wolf born in captivity. There is much to learn: how to kill wild prey, how to avoid vehicles on the highway, how to stay away from potentially dangerous humans, how to find water and suitable den sites. Mexican wolf M806 mastered all the necessary skills and managed to survive in the wild from his release on July 6, 2006, until his death on July 6, 2012. Few captive born lobos have been more successful.

M806, or Laredo, as he was known at the Wild Canid Center (now the Endangered Wolf Center) in Missouri, was one of eight tiny puppies in a litter born on April 25, 2003, to Anna (F685) and Prietito (M536). According to former Wild Canid executive director Susan Lindsey, growing up a large litter taught Laredo how to “negotiate” in order to get along in a pack—a talent that would serve him well as he made his way in the wild.

Mexican wolf project personnel placed the family of four in a temporary mesh pen near Middle Mountain in the Arizona portion of the recovery area on July 6. The wolves, called the Meridian pack, chewed their way to freedom that same day.

Tragedy struck the pack almost immediately, when on July 14 the male pup was found dead of unknown causes. Then, in late September, AF838 was found shot to death by a bow hunter. Laredo and his remaining female pup began wandering, sometimes together, and sometimes separately. 

During his wanderings, Laredo was involved in one of the funnier incidents in the history of the reintroduction, when he was implicated in a case of possible petty larceny. According to the project monthly update for November, 2006:

On November 30, the IFT received a report that a wolf observed in the area the day before may have carried off a hunter’s elk antlers that were stored next to his vehicle at camp. The hunter did not see a radio collar on the wolf. The following day, the IFT located AM806 of the Meridian pack in the area and searched for the antlers, but could not locate them.

I’ve always suspected that somewhere in the Apache National Forest, there’s a wolf den decorated with a nice rack of elk antlers on the wall.

By December 2006, Laredo had managed to make his way into the large, formidable Bluestem pack, whose alpha female, Estrella (AF521) had lost her original mate in June. Only a few weeks before Laredo joined the pack, the Bluestems had apparently caused the death of a yearling member of the San Mateo pack in an attack that took place in the San Mateo pack’s own home territory. The negotiating skills acquired in his large captive family may have helped M806 join the Bluestem pack without incident.

Laredo became Alpha Male 806 when he and Estrella became a mated pair, producing three surviving pups in 2007. They remained together in 2008, although they produced no more pups. In 2009 the aging Estrella left the pack. Laredo and one of Estrella’s daughters, F1042, mated, producing one living pup, mp1183. The pair remained together until Laredo’s death. They produced no pups in 2010, but in 2011, they raised two pups until the end of the year, despite the fact that the Wallow Fire burned through the area where they had denned. This year the field team has again confirmed the presence of pups with the Bluestem pack.

After a rocky start, Laredo found his place in the wild. He spent six of his nine years as a free, wild creature. His lone offspring from 2009, M1183, has established a pack of his own, the Maverick pack, on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. One of Laredo’s pups from 2011 remains with AF1042, raising hopes that some of this year’s pups will survive. Laredo died too soon, but his legacy lives on in the mountains and meadows of eastern Arizona.

In honor of #LoboWeek, Kayla tells his story.

 

Learn more about #LoboWeek here.

Learn more about the Mexican gray wolf here.

Red Wolf M1566 Turns 9 Years Old

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This is the second year red wolf M1566 (affectionately nicknamed “Colt” and “Smokey”) has celebrated a birthday at the Wolf Conservation Center, he’s a relatively new member of the WCC family arriving in December of 2014. He resides on exhibit with his companion of two years, red wolf F1397 (a.k.a. “Witchhazel”).

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 F1397 and M1566 are a great match on paper.

Sometimes saving a species isn’t very romantic, but it turns out that the duo make a great match off paper as well. The scrappy, tough, and elusive beauties are a perfect match, both with personalities much larger than their frames. They proved their compatibility last month when a global audience of webcam watchers caught the couple engage in a copulatory tie! The gestation period (length of pregnancy) for wolves is 63 days so we won’t know the outcome of their union until May.

So join us in sending congratulatory howls to M1566 for finding his soul mate. And who knows… perhaps he’ll celebrate his 9th birthday with a new litter of scrappy, tough, and elusive pups!

Happy birthday, M1566!


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Henry Shares the Story of Mexican Wolf F613 on #LoboWeek

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Although Mexican gray wolf F613, affectionately nicknamed “Mama Gray,” 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 on March 2, 2016, her spirit too.

In honor if #LoboWeek, Henry of the WCC P.A.C.K. Fellowship shares the story of Mexican gray wolf F613.


Learn more about #LoboWeek here.

Learn more about the Mexican gray wolf here.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Conservation-Minded Middle Schooler Shares the Story of Mexican Wolf F628

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 Mexican gray wolf F628 (a.k.a. Mrs. T) called the Wolf Conservation Center home for ten years until the beautiful loba passed away in 2015 at the age of 16. She was the most elusive wolf residing at the Center, it was a near miracle that our curator was able to capture her image (above). Elusive, swift, resilient - all tokens of her wild past.

Her Story

F628 was born in the wild on May 15, 1999 to the original Pipestem family group. In 2002, U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) captured her in New Mexico's Gila National Forest after a private landowner complained that the wolves were killing livestock. The couple was the last established pair of Mexican wolves from New Mexico.

F628's removal from the wild prompted organizations like the Center for Biological Diversity to denounce the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management for their failures to address the problem of poor livestock husbandry. Cattle carcasses that remain untreated or left on the wild landscape can lead wolves to seek cattle as food. Fourteen years later, this remains a serious issue as federal agencies still don’t require livestock owners using public lands to take basic steps to prevent conflict.

In honor if #LoboWeek, Lizzy of the WCC P.A.C.K. Fellowship shares the story of Mexican gray wolf F628.