Saturday, December 31, 2016

Here's to You!

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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 (WCC) has become a national leader in wolf education, advocacy, and the protection of wolf populations in the wild.

So as we close 2016, 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, 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.

As a pack, we will make a difference.
See you in 2017!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Happy Birthday Endangered Species Act

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Four years ago today, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was signed into law. Sadly, despite its success and public support, the ESA is under attack like never before.

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

With extinction there is no turning back, no second chance. Thankfully, the ESA has given thousands of at-risk species like the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf (pictured) a second chance. For over four decades the ESA has worked successfully to prevent the extinction of 99% of the species placed under its protection. A national poll conducted last year found that the ESA is supported by 90% of American voters.

Despite this, some members of congress continue their attempts to chip away at the ESA bill by bill. Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, chair of the House Resources Committee, goes as far to say he’d rather "scrap the Endangered Species Act altogether."

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Joy to the World!


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Howlidays from the Wolf Conservation Center

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

May the magic and the wonder of the holiday season stay with you throughout the coming year. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Happy Winter Solstice!

Hello, winter, my old friend.
You've come to howl with me again.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

It Only Takes One Howl...

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. Please consider taking action via the Wolf Conservation Center’s active campaigns HERE. Thank you!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump Now Said to Pick Rep Ryan Zinke for Interior

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In an unexpected turn of events, President-elect Donald Trump is now said to have picked Montana Representative Ryan Zinke, a Republican who gets low marks from environmental groups but has bucked his party to protect public land, as his nominee for Interior secretary, according to two sources familiar with the transition planning.

Zinke’s repeated support for logging, drilling and mining on cherished public lands is out of step with most Americans, however.

The League of Conservation Voters gave Zinke a 3 percent score in the group’s 100-point National Environmental Scorecard, based on lawmakers’ votes on the organization’s top issues, including energy, climate change, public health, wildlife conservation and spending for environmental programs. The average score in the group’s ratings for all House members in 2015 was 41 percent.


During Zinke's brief time in office, the freshman congressman has not been a friend to endangered species or the Endangered Species Act. In 2016 Zinke led efforts to strip federal protections for critically endangered Mexican gray wolves even though a mere 97 remain in the wild.

As leader of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Secretary of Interior is charged to use sound science to manage and sustain America’s lands, water, wildlife, and energy resources. As keeper of our nation’s legacy, the Secretary manages the resources in his/her care to benefit Americans now and in the future.

Zinke's lack of support for Endangered Species Act clearly stands in opposition to the Wolf Conservation Center's core beliefs and mission.

The Wolf Conservation Center is carefully reviewing Zinke's record, stay tuned for updates.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Wolf Conservation Center Opposes Nomination of Cathy McMorris Rodgers As Interior Secretary

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The Wolf Conservation Center opposes the nomination of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior. Her lack of support for Endangered Species Act — or at least how it's been used – clearly stands in opposition to our core beliefs and mission

As of Friday, December 9, 2016, it seems evident that President-elect Donald Trump is expected to tap Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a sixth-term Republican from Washington State, for Secretary of Interior.

As leader of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Secretary of Interior is charged to use sound science to manage and sustain America’s lands, water, wildlife, and energy resources. As keeper of our nation’s legacy, the Secretary manages the resources in his/her care to benefit Americans now and in the future.

As a member of the federal Species Survival Program for both the Mexican gray wolf and Red wolf, the Wolf Conservation Center works cooperatively with other conservation organizations and federal agencies to maintain healthy, genetically diverse and demographically stable populations of these critically imperiled species for their long-term future. Their importance to balanced and resilient ecosystems is undeniable, and wolf recovery efforts should be a matter of pride and priority for our nation.

Thus, as a pre-eminent facility in the Eastern United States for the captive breeding and pre-release of these endangered canid species, we oppose the nomination of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior. Her lack of support for Endangered Species Act — or at least how it's been used – clearly stands in opposition to our core beliefs and mission.

In a 2008 press release on Endangered Species Day McMorris Rodgers argued that the Endangered Species Act had been a failure in need of reform, saying it had "become a source of conflict between federal regulators and communities and local landowners:"

"Now is the time to move away from burdensome regulations, lawsuits and punitive settlements to a more balanced and collaborative approach to land use," McMorris Rodgers wrote. It's a theme she's returned to repeatedly, proposing a bill that would inform customers of just how costly conforming with the Endangered Species Act would be.”

In June, 2013, McMorris Rodgers also praised the decision to delist the gray wolf as an endangered species with the following statement:

"I applaud the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to delist the gray wolf as an endangered species. It is long overdue. We need to ensure wolf management is done in a realistic manner, taking into account the needs of Eastern Washington, which has nine known wolf packs. I am confident that champions like Senator John Smith and Representatives Joel Kretz and Shelly Short will continue to oversee proper management at the State level. I am committed to a solution that makes sense for Eastern Washington and protects our livestock and farming communities."
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Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ Record
As of Friday, December 9, 2016, it seems evident that President-elect Donald Trump is expected to tap Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Washington State) to lead the U.S. Interior Department. Rodgers, is a six-term Republican congresswoman who would bring a conservative Northwesterner’s perspective into President-elect Trump’s cabinet. While a supporter of hydropower, which is popular in her home state, she has also repeatedly cast doubt on the existence of human-induced climate change. She has also regularly voted to open federal public lands to more extractive natural resource: from increased logging to mining to natural gas and oil drilling. While Rodgers has supported renewable energy and the responsible siting of wind and solar energy projects on public land, many of her House votes have been bad for the environment. The congresswoman has voted to open the Atlantic Ocean to drilling, to prohibit the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, opposed methods such as cap and trade to reduce carbon emissions, has fought efforts to regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on federal land, voted to make it easier to drill in Native American lands and opposed federal efforts to address climate change like the EPA's Clean Power Plan, the first federal rules to limit emissions from existing power plants.

Rodgers has earned a score of 4 percent from the League of Conservation Voters since being elected in 2004, a group generally regarded as a more centrist environmental advocacy organization. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she would lead the President-elect’s efforts to open up federal lands and waters to fossil-fuel development and reverse environmental policies and protections that the Obama administration has pursued over the past eight years.


Background
The Department of the Interior (DOI) protects and manages our nation's natural resources and cultural heritage. It stewards approximately 500 million acres of public lands and 700 million subsurface acres including magnificent vistas, unique ecosystems, treasured natural, cultural, and heritage assets, including our national parks, national wildlife refuges, and federal public lands. It also manages resources that supply our nation’s energy, the water in the 17 Western States and supplies 17 percent of the nation’s hydropower energy. It upholds Federal trust responsibilities to 566 federally recognized Indian tribes and Alaska Natives, as well.

The DOI is also responsible for migratory bird and wildlife conservation, historic preservation, endangered species conservation, surface-mined lands protection and restoration, mapping, geological, hydrological, and biological science for our nation. Thus , effective management of the DOI requires dynamic and modern strategies to confront major trends including the likelihood of continued and increasingly constrained funding resources, the changing demographics of the population that is becoming more urban, diverse, and technologically advanced, and a changing climate that will continue to have impacts on land, water, wildlife, and tribal communities.

As a bureau within the DOI, the USFWS guides the conservation, development, and management of our nation's fish and wildlife resources. The Service works with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. As the principal federal partner responsible for administering the Endangered Species Act (ESA), it takes the lead in recovering and conserving our nation's imperiled species by developing and implementing recovery plans that provide detailed site-specific management actions for private, Federal, and State cooperation in conserving federally listed species and their ecosystems.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Wolf Species Have 'Howling Dialects'


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.

Howling isn’t the only vocalization employed by wolves. They also bark, huff, whine, whimper, yelp, growl, and snarl.

Also interesting, findings from a recent study suggest 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. More via PHYS.ORG.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Beauty. Not Beast. Vital. Not Villainous.


Beyond being beautiful, wolves are critical keystone species. By regulating prey populations, wolves enable many other species of plants and animals to flourish. Without predators, such as wolves, an ecosystem fails to support a natural level of biodiversity, and may cease to exist altogether.

The recovery of the gray wolf after its eradication from Yellowstone National Park, nearly a century ago, serves as a demonstration of how critical keystone species are to the long-term sustainability of the ecosystems they inhabit. In the 70-year absence of wolves in the Park, elk had become accustomed to grazing tender, native willows along stream banks without much predation risk. The consequences of an elk population without a top predator included a decline of the deciduous trees elk eat, a decline of beavers due to the decline of willow and aspen, and a decline in songbirds. These consequences indicate that changes in the wolf population have trickle-down effects on other populations, a phenomenon known as a “trophic cascade.”

With the support of the American public two decades ago, the federal government gave the green light to return wolves to portions of their native range in the West in 1995 and 1996 - including Yellowstone. The wildlife conservation event opened a new chapter in Yellowstone's history, with a homecoming that changed the Park.

After wolf reintroduction, scientists documented the return of willows and other vegetation. And where the willow returned, the researchers noted more diverse wildlife. Beaver dams and dried up wetlands returned, and wetland birds, waterfowl and other wildlife thrived again where they had been suppressed for decades. Over-grazed grasses flourished anew on upland prairies.

As Mother Nature's wildlife managers, wolves initiate trickle down effects that improve ecosystem function and resilience.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Petition Filed With USFWS Seeking Updated Recovery Plan for Red Wolf


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With Only 45 Remaining in North Carolina, New Plan Would Save Wild Population
WASHINGTON— The Wolf Conservation Center joined six other animal protection and conservation organizations to file a petition today with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking an updated recovery plan for the rapidly dwindling population of wild red wolves. The recovery plan for the red wolf has not been updated since 1990. Since that time red wolves have expanded their range in the wild, faced additional threats from increased poaching and hybridization with coyotes and seen changes in their management. With all of these changes, an updated, science-based recovery plan is needed now more than ever.

"The red wolf is one of the few large carnivore species endemic to the United States. Their importance to a balanced and resilient ecosystem is undeniable," said Maggie Howell, Executive Director of the Wolf Conservation Center. "Red wolf recovery should be a matter of pride and priority for our nation."

“Experts in red wolf ecology, genetics and biology have published significant scientific research since the plan was created over a quarter-century ago,” said Tara Zuardo, an AWI wildlife attorney. “An amended recovery plan based on the best available science is vital to ensure that red wolves survive in the wild.”

The petition includes information about threats to the red wolf and provides strategies to address those threats, including reducing lethal and nonlethal removal of wolves from the wild; resuming the use of the “placeholder program,” which involved releasing sterilized coyotes to hold territories until red wolves can replace them; resuming the use of the cross-pup fostering program as a way to increase the genetic diversity of the species; identification of additional reintroduction sites; and increasing outreach and education to garner support for wolves and stop poaching.

“The red wolf is teetering on the brink of extinction, but it can be saved by putting in place an aggressive recovery plan,” said Collette Adkins, a biologist and senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “A new recovery plan would serve as a road map, outlining all the necessary steps to ensure that future generations have a chance to see these beautiful wolves in the wild.”


In September the Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to confine red wolf recovery to just federal lands in Dare County, while also identifying new sites for wolf introductions and doubling the number of captive-breeding pairs. The agency’s controversial proposal to restrict the recovery area in North Carolina has been met with stark criticism. Last week 30 prominent experts in wolf conservation sent a letter expressing their concerns. And on Wednesday Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and eight key Democratic leaders sent a letter urging Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to revive the red wolf recovery program.

Petitioners request a prompt response to their petition confirming that the Service has begun work on an updated plan for the red wolf, a timeline for completing the recovery planning process, and implementation of recovery strategies necessary for the species.

The petitioners include the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Endangered Species Coalition, South Florida Wildlands Association, WildEarth Guardians and the Wolf Conservation Center.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

For this Mexican Wolf Pup, Happiness is Finding the Perfect Stick in a Pile of Leaves

Beyond being cute, 7-month-old Mexican gray wolf f1505 (a.k.a. Trumpet) represents the Wolf Conservation Center's active participation to save a species from the brink of extinction. Learn more about critically endangered lobos and our efforts to save them here.

Friday, December 2, 2016

New Endangered Red Wolf Joins Wolf Conservation Center Family

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Meet red wolf F1568, a.k.a. “Argo!”

The beautiful female arrived at the Wolf Conservation Center last month from Mill Mountain Zoo in Roanoke, VA. Beyond being beautiful, F1568 represents the WCC's active participation in an effort to save a species from extinction. The WCC is one of 45 facilities in the U.S. participating in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (RWSSP) – a national initiative whose primary purpose is to support the reestablishment of red wolves in the wild through captive breeding, public education, and research.


Soon F1568 will join red wolf M1803 (“Moose”) and be given the opportunity to breed during the 2016-2017 season. The RWSSP management group 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 F1568 and M1803 are a great match on paper with an extremely low inbreeding coefficient. Hopefully the pair are a good match in real life too!

F1568, born on April 3, 2007, is the third red wolf from her litter to call the WCC home. Her brothers, M1565 and M1566, have since opened new chapters to their lives at other facilities participating in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan. Although we miss these boys, the WCC family is already head over heels over their darling sister.

Urgent: Please tell Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell that USFWS, the very agency charged by federal law with protecting endangered species, needs to recommit to red wolf recovery in the wild >> take action.