Friday, March 31, 2017

Court Upholds ESA Protections for Intrastate Species

In a sweeping victory for our nation’s endangered species, the federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld federal Endangered Species Act protections for the Utah prairie dog this week – a win for the prairie dog, all other endangered intrastate species (like the red wolf), and the ESA itself.


The decision overturns an unprecedented 2014 lower-court ruling, which found that the ESA did not have the authority to mandate protections for species that are only present within one state, like the Utah prairie dog. This 2014 ruling was a severe blow to the ESA. By providing state governors with the power to ignore ESA regulations, the ruling allowed political interests to decide the fate of intrastate endangered species instead of science as mandated by federal law.

This week’s ruling marks the sixth time a federal appeals court has considered and rejected similar challenges to the ESA – one case pertaining to the critically endangered red wolf in North Carolina.

This being said, it will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court, but the 10th Circuit's decision may make it less likely that the high court takes up the issue.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mexican Gray Wolf's Song of the Wild

Listen to wild Mexican gray wolf m1455 sing - what a mysterious and wonderful sound! If you listen very carefully you might hear a very distant wolf respond.

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.

Mexican wolf m1455, run free, howl often, and stay safe!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wild Anniversary for the Critically Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf

The Mexican Wolf (2013) from Lincoln Athas on Vimeo.

Nineteen years ago today, 11 captive-reared Mexican gray wolves (a.k.a. lobos) 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 rarest and most unique subspecies of gray wolf was once again greeted by the mountains of the southwest.

We hope you enjoy the Wolf Conservation Center's story of the Mexican Wolf as we carry out the work of their recovery.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Lobos Are Howlin' and the Wild is Callin'!

These critically endangered Mexican gray wolves represent one of the two potential lobo pairs chosen for release by USFWS! Later this summer, Mexican wolves F1362, M1196, yearling f1494, and pups of the year should be released in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico. No more fence-lines, just the vast wilderness to explore and bring to balance.

But someone is poised to block their freedom, and she's not a scientist...

Under Governor Susana Martinez, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in May and obtained an injunction barring the federal agency from releasing wolves into the wild in the state. The federal government and conservation organizations have appealed that injunction, but while the appeal is being decided the Mexican wolf’s genetic plight is worsening.

The Service has a responsibility under federal law to facilitate recovery of the critically endangered species and releases are a central part of that effort. Here's hoping the federal appeals court agrees.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

It's #LoboWeek - Celebrating A Milestone in Mexican Wolf Recovery

It's safe to come out, lobos... #LoboWeek begins today!

On March 29, 1998, 11 captive-reared Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) 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 rarest and most unique subspecies of gray wolf was once again greeted by the mountains of the southwest. This March marks the 19th anniversary of this historic event, a significant milestone for the lobo and wildlife conservation.

In recognition of the anniversary, the Wolf Conservation Center is among the rapidly growing group of partners participating #LoboWeek, an international movement to educate people about the Mexican wolf or "lobo" and our efforts to successfully restore this critically endangered wolf to its ancestral home in the wild.

All week long, the WCC will be celebrating the wild anniversary with interesting lobo facts, ways to take action, special events, "Lobo Loot" giveaways and more!

Learn how you can take part in the celebration and download free #LoboWeek photos!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Inhumane Wildlife Management Practices Upheld on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska

Moments ago, the Senate passed S.J. RES. 18 by a vote of 51 to 47 to allow the killing of denning wolves and pups, hibernating bears, and other predators on national refuges land in Alaska

Alaska’s unethical predator hunting has been a flash point in a growing battle between state and federal officials over who has authority over federal lands. On August 3, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took a big positive step and joined its sister-agency, the National Park Service, in finalizing regulations for national wildlife refuges in Alaska that effectively overruled an Alaska state law that encouraged the extreme and excessive killing of bears, wolves and coyotes to promote game animals.

In passing S.J. RES. 18, the Senate joined the House and voted to nullify this important rule and allow cruel and inhumane wildlife management practices on Alaska's wildlife refuges.

These lands are OUR lands, not Alaska's. As long as our collective tax dollars help to support them, we, through our representatives, have every right to speak on behalf of science-based management.

We will not give up.

The greatest danger to the future of wolves and all wildlife is apathy. As always, we appreciate your help and active support. Thank you.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring Calls For a Wardrobe Change for Wolves


Today is the first day of spring! 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 are telling us that spring has sprung – they’ve begun to shed their winter coats.

A sample of the insulating undercoat
In the coming weeks, their insulating undercoats will begin to fall 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:
  • Development of the mammary gland for expectant wolf mothers 
  • Maintenance of lactation – helps milk production in wolf mothers 
  • Promotion of parental behavior in both males and females and thus enhances pup survival 
  • 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.

Arctic Wolf Atka Comments on First Day of Spring

Happy Vernal Equi-NOT! Only 275 days until winter!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A March for Science is a March for Wolves

The Wolf Conservation Center will be marching for science in New York City on Earth Day.

Will you?

As citizens of the 21st century, our nation and world are at a crossroads when it comes to ensuring the future sustainability of our air, water, wild lands and wildlife for future generations. Our nation’s future relies on a well-educated public to be wise stewards of the very environment that sustains us – now and for future generations. The recent efforts to constrain and muzzle scientific research and shroud well-established scientific ideas in “uncertainty,” signals a dark turning point that is sure to touch us all.

The war on science is shaping the political policies governing our daily life. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the health of our oceans, streams, wild lands and wildlife.

At its heart, the current attack on science aims to de-regulate industry, weaken, and even repeal environmental laws - including one of most successful bipartisan pieces of legislation our country has ever adopted, the Endangered Species Act. The ESA is the world’s "gold standard” for conservation and protection of animals and plants. It has given thousands of at-risk species a second chance for over four decades and has worked successfully to prevent the extinction of 99% of the species placed under its protection. According to a national poll conducted in 2015, 90% of American voters support the Act.

Despite its success and public support, anti-environment interests in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate are currently crafting some of the most serious threats ever posed to the cornerstone of our nation’s conservation law.

Science has concluded that we have entered an unprecedented period of climate change and human-caused Sixth Mass Extinction. Earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past 40 years. With species vanishing at this alarming rate, it is critical that our environmental policies be motivated by science.

This Earth Day on April 22nd, we will march on behalf of wolves, wildlife, wild lands and water. We will march for the Endangered Species Act. We will march for our children.

Tomorrow’s leaders need to be equipped for tomorrow's challenges. If we allow science to be silenced, we fail ourselves - now and for future generations.

If you're interested in joining the Wolf Conservation Center at the March for Science NYC, let us know by emailing!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Thursday, March 16, 2017

National Wildlife Refuge System at Risk

Just two days after the USFWS National Wildlife Refuge System celebrated its 114th birthday, we learned President Trump's Fiscal Year 2018 Budget is filled with dramatic and damaging cuts to conservation programs. Instead of a birthday gift that would alleviate the current budget crisis in the Refuge System, the budget proposal would close refuges, stop much needed conservation initiatives and bar the public from enjoying nature's last vestiges of wild.

Do you cherish America's wilderness?

Without a natural legacy, we leave nothing to future generations. Please consider taking action - call your federal reps and ask them to oppose slashing the National Wildlife Refuge System budget.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Arctic Wolf Attitude

It's a good day to be an Arctic wolf.  Have fun, Atka!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

For wolves, playtime isn’t only fun, it strengthens family bonds.

 This is what family looks like.

Not only do wolves use body language to convey the rules of the family (a.k.a. pack) and communicate intentions, they also use it to initiate fun! When seeking to play, wolves will dance and bow playfully. Playtime can also include a game of chase, jaw sparring, and varied vocalizations. For wolves, playtime isn’t only fun, it strengthens family bonds. Can you identify the dominant brother?

Learn more.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Remembering Apache


Today we remember an old friend.
Seven 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.

Apache touched all who were lucky enough to hear his howl.

R.I.P. Apache. We miss you.
(May 5, 1997 - March 10, 2010)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Never Underestimate the Power of an Alpha Female

In celebration of International Women's Day, we honor 11 female conservation leaders who helped drive the 20th century conservation movement.

Read about them here!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Lobo Love Bodes Well For Mexican Wolf Recovery

Big News!

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 (Belle) and M1133 (Rhett) engage in a copulatory tie via webcam!

Mexican wolf F1226 with her pups born May 2016
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.
Proud Papa, Mexican gray wolf M1133
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 parenthood (the couple had three pups in May of 2016) and saving a species look like a whole lot of fun!

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

Join the couple via webcam.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

To look into the eyes of a wolf is to see your own soul

To look into the eyes of a wolf is to see your own soul - I hope you like what you see. ~Aldo Leopold.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

When it comes to wolves, it's all about family.

This is what family looks like.
For wolves, bath-time isn't only fun, it helps strengthen family bonds. When Ambassador wolf Zephyr licks and nibbles his younger brother Nikai, not only is big brother keeping Nikai's fur clean and free of debris, his grooming efforts are gestures of intimacy that reaffirm the unique emotional bonds that shape the foundation of the family. Because when it comes to wolves, it's all about family.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Federal Court Puts Wyoming Wolves Back in the Crosshairs, Decision Poised to Impact Wolves Beyond the State

trophy_18 (2)
A federal appeals court today upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2012 decision to remove gray wolves in Wyoming from the endangered species list to allow trophy/predator hunting to resume immediately.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that USFWS reasonably found that Wyoming had adequate plans to ensure a healthy population.

The decision reverses a lower-court ruling that restored federal protections for the wolves in 2014, and is poised to impact wolves far beyond Wyoming's borders.



Just over four years ago in 2012, the USFWS officially stripped federal protections from Wyoming's wolves and handed management over to the state, a controversial decision, and contradiction of the agency's stance in the past. Although USFWS had previously criticized Wyoming's state wolf plan on the grounds that unregulated shooting in most of the state would reduce the state’s wolf population below federally required levels, the agency took a significantly altered position, announcing that these wolves no longer warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The following day, management was handed over to the state and Wyoming's inaugural wolf hunt commenced.

A few weeks later, a coalition of conservation groups represented by Earthjustice officially filed suit in federal district court in the District of Columbia asking "the court to declare this rule illegal, and put wolves back on the endangered species list until Wyoming adopts a responsible management plan that ensures the continued survival and recovery of wolves in the region."
Wyoming wolves receive a reprieve in 2014

On September 23, 2014, Judge Amy Berman Jackson invalidated USFWS' s 2012 statewide delisting. The ruling reinstated federal protections and ended management of wolves by Wyoming, a state with a kill-on-sight approach to wolf management. In its 2012 management plan Wyoming promised to maintain more than the required 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside the national parks. The judge took issue with an addendum in the plan assuring that it would maintain a buffer of wolves above the required number because it did not specify how many wolves or make the buffer binding by law. Because the addendum was legally unenforceable, the judge found the buffer to be a violation of the ESA.

Broader Implications of Today's Decision - Nationwide Delisting

The decision, which reverses a lower-court ruling that restored federal protections for the wolves in 2014, and is poised to impact wolves far beyond Wyoming's borders. The decision to return wolf management to Wyoming paves the way for USFWS to issue their national wolf delisting rule -- meaning all wolves in the lower 48 (except Mexican wolves and red wolves) can lose protection at a time when they have claimed less than 10% of their historic range.

Moreover, Wyoming’s wolf management policies can influence expectations about wildlife management in other states.

"USFWS caved to Wyoming’s insistence on keeping the predator zone," said Wolf Conservation Center's Maggie Howell. "With the service on the cusp of delisting wolves across the United States, any concessions that are allowed in Wyoming by the federal government could set a precedent for other states to bargain with. It's both wrong and dangerous to allow a state with a history of hostile and extreme anti-wolf policies to set an example for other states to follow. Today's ruling to uphold the USFWS's 2012 decision is bad news for wolves beyond the state's borders."

Stay tuned for updates.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf Left Her Mark

Mexican wolf F613 (a.k.a. Mama Gray), was a legendary loba, a powerful mother, and tireless leader. She experienced tremendous accomplishments and longevity in her life despite the political challenges that come with being a Mexican wolf.

A year ago we said goodbye, but her compelling story and tenacious spirit continues to empower us to press on in fight to safeguard the wild legacy she left behind.

Her story.