Monday, May 29, 2017

Wild Salute

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wolf Conservation Center Welcomes Critically Endangered Wolf Pups


A critically endangered Mexican gray wolf living at the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) made a priceless contribution to the recovery of her rare and at-risk species on Monday – she had pups! On May 22, Mexican gray wolf F1226 (affectionately nicknamed Belle by supporters) gave birth to a litter of three pups – each no larger than a Russet potato. This is the second litter born to mom (age six), and dad, (age nine).

Although F1226 is currently keeping her newborn pups out of sight, WCC staff anticipates the pups will begin to emerge in a few weeks and be visible to a global audience via live webcams.

Recognizing the distinct peeps squeaks and mews of newborn wolves, WCC staff followed the pup “chatter” yesterday morning to confirm the pups had arrived!       

"It will be an exciting season," said Rebecca Bose, WCC Curator and member of the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan Management Team. “With parents, newborns, and the pair’s three yearlings born in 2016, we have an opportunity to study the complex social structure of a multigenerational pack. Unbeknown to the wolves, our webcams allow us to observe their behavior 24/7, so it’s easier for us to make the best recommendations with respect to which wolves are most suitable for release.”

Accessible via the WCC website, webcams allow an unlimited number of viewers to enter the private lives of wolves.

“Over 300,000 people tuned in to the webcam last year to watch F1226 in labor,” said Maggie Howell, WCC Executive Director. “These Mexican wolves are really popular on webcam and have been exceptionally effective in demonstrating the importance of family. This is what makes wolves and humans so similar. As the pups and yearlings mature this year, the public will have an opportunity to witness the gestures of intimacy and enthusiasm that form the unique emotional bonds and shape the foundation of the pack.”

Raising pups is a family affair; it is natural for all the wolves to pitch in. The yearlings will assist their parents in rearing their younger siblings by regurgitating food for them, playing with them and even baby-sitting. Moreover, the parents will demonstrate critical parenting strategies and techniques for the yearlings to employ when they have pups of their own.

Passing down knowledge from one generation to the next also allows the family to maintain traditions unique to that pack.

“Hopefully some of these younger wolves will one day be able to apply what they learn today to raise pups of their own in the wild in the future,” said Bose. “So far three of our Mexican wolves have been released – two in Arizona and one in northern Mexico.”

Beyond being adorable, the wolf pups represent the Center’s active participation in an effort to save a species on the brink of extinction. The Mexican gray wolf 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.

Because the entire existing Mexican wolf population descended from just seven founders rescued from extinction, genetic health is the primary consideration governing most recovery efforts.

“Addressing the Mexican wolf’s genetic imperilment requires an active program of releasing more genetically diverse wolves into the wild. Currently, the captive population is more diverse than the wild population; we need to capitalize on this with more captive-to-wild release efforts as soon as possible. Mexican wolf recovery cannot exist in captivity alone,” said Bose.

The WCC is one of 55 facilities in the U.S. and Mexico participating in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan – a bi-national initiative whose primary purpose is to support the reestablishment of Mexican wolves in the wild through captive breeding, public education, and research.

Currently 13 Mexican wolves call the WCC home. In the U.S., there is a single wild population comprising only 113 individuals - an increase from the 97 counted at the end of 2015.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Feds Propose Changing Protections for World's Last Wild Red Wolves

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is considering changes to the existing protections for the world's last population of wild red wolves. Fewer than 35 remain.

Published this morning, the federal agency's proposed rule intends to revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of red wolves in North Carolina under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act to allow significant changes in the size, scope and management of the current red wolf recovery program.

The rule includes the Service's plan to allow pulling the last wild red wolves from most of their range in North Carolina to put them in captivity. Ironically, the federal agency claimed its decision was "based on the best and latest scientific information" from the red wolf Population Viability Analysis (PVA).

But the very scientists who drafted the PVA charge that USFWS based its plan on “many alarming misinterpretations” of their scientific analysis and warn that USFWS's plan “will no doubt result in the extinction of red wolves in the wild.” In a letter they ask the agency to "edit or append" its decision.

The WCC is is currently reviewing the proposed rule and will be participating during the public comment period. Stay tuned...

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Ambassador Wolf Atka Receives 1000 Emails

Well wishers at yesterday's birthday bash check out Atka's meat-filled piñata moments before the Atka tore it to shreds!
Well wishers at yesterday's birthday bash check out Atka's meat-filled piñata moments before the Atka tore it to shreds!
We wanted to make sure Atka's 15th birthday was special, so after the long, requisite talk about safety, etiquette, and responsibility, we gave him his very own email account at! In a matter of hours, emails with photos, artwork, and wonderful well wishes started arriving at an alarming rate. Nearly 1000 emails filled Atka's inbox - with messages from every continent with the exception of Antarctica! Enormous thanks to all of Atka's wonderful supporters for joining us in celebrating a special wolf. We love you, Atka!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What Draws Tourists to Yellowstone? Wolves!

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What draws tourists to Yellowstone? A new scientific visitor survey shows the number one draw is wildlife - specifically wolves and grizzly bears! Beyond their value as a critical keystone species, by drawing an abundance of tourists to the park wolves benefit the greater Yellowstone economy too!

National Parks Service (NPS) estimates that wolf watchers bring $35M tourism dollars to the greater Yellowstone area annually. Moreover, a 2013 NPS report shows that 3,188,030 visitors to Yellowstone National Park that year spent almost $382 million in the surrounding communities. That spending supported 5,300 jobs in the area.

Despite the popularity of wolves, many of the park's neighboring communities are avidly anti-wolf and sometimes the more popular the wolf, the bigger target they become. Last month, the 12-year-old matriarch of Yellowstone’s Canyon Pack, was shot by poachers and left to die.

Poachers are not the only threats Yellowstone wolves face. Although hunting is not permitted within the park, wolf trophy hunts are authorized by every state bordering Yellowstone.

Communities surrounding Yellowstone in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho should give greater consideration the economics of wildlife watching. Only then would they would understand that wolves are more valuable alive than dead, and their current policies are indeed killing the "golden goose."

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

It's Ambassador Wolf Atka's 15th Birthday


Happy Birthday, Atka!

Today Ambassador Wolf Atka turns 15 years old! The confident and charismatic ambassador has opened the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of people in his lifetime. He’s a powerful presence in the fight to preserve wolves’ rightful place in the environment, and for the Wolf Conservation Center staff and volunteers, the best boss we’ll ever have. We love you, Atka!

Wish Atka a Happy Birthday - send him an email!

In a world flooded with online communication, at 15 years old Atka decided he should build his digital identity. So, after a the long, requisite discussions about safety, etiquette, and responsibility, WCC staff gave Atka his very own email account! Get in touch with Atka at!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Yellowstone: A Wild Homecoming

The last wolves in Yellowstone Nation Park were killed nearly a century ago. But with the support of the American public in 1995 and 1996, a new chapter in Yellowstone's history began, with a homecoming that changed the Park.

The reintroduction of gray wolves to our first national park has been described as a near-miracle, having occurred at one of those rare moments when stars align in the political sky. A wildlife conservation effort with such positive environmental impact (and ongoing controversy) will likely go unmatched for a long time.

The following video gives an account of the remarkable effect of wolf reintroduction on Yellowstone's wild landscape.

Learn more about the "wolf effect" in Yellowstone and the ongoing scientific debate inspired by the video.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

Wishing Mexican gray wolf F1226 (a.k.a. Belle)and all the mothers out there a wonderful Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Necropsy Results Reveal Beloved Yellowstone Wolf Was Shot


May 11, 2017 - A month ago today, hikers discovered a severely injured wolf inside Yellowstone National Park. Today, we learn from the National Park Service that the white matriarch of the Canyon Pack was shot by poachers and left to die.
On April 11, hikers discovered the wounded wolf inside the park near Gardiner, Montana. Park staff investigated the situation and concluded the wolf was dying from her injuries. She was euthanized. She was 12 years old. She was protected.

A reward of up to $5,000.00 is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for this criminal act.

More via the National Park Service.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Celebrate Ambassador Wolf Atka


Atka's birthday is one week from today! Celebrate Atka and support the Wolf Conservation Center's efforts to protect his wild kin with your purchase of a limited "Ambassador" T-shirt!


Additional colors available in adult and child sizes. Beautiful artwork by Jane Lee McCracken

Monday, May 8, 2017

Senate Hearing on the Endangered Species Act


Despite its success and public support, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday to examine ways to overhaul the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo), chairman of the committee, says his focus is "eliminating a lot of the red tape and the bureaucratic burdens that have been impacting our ability to create jobs."

It's important to note that beyond being a co-sponsor of the "War on Wolves Act" (legislation aimed to allow trophy hunting of wolves to resume in 4 states while taking away citizens’ ability to challenge that decision), Sen. Barrasso has voted against the ESA and endangered species protections at every opportunity since 2011.

Science has concluded that we have entered an unprecedented period of climate change and human-caused Sixth Mass extinction. As conservationists in the 21st century, we face the growing challenge of helping imperiled species heal and flourish and supporting biodiversity for future generations, not dismantling the cornerstone of our nation’s conservation law.

While Congressional leaders and lobbyists have spoken for major corporations and special interests, your individual voice as a voting American counts just as much.

Please urge your Congressional representatives to oppose any legislation that takes aim at the ESA and imperiled wildlife!


Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Words We Use Matter


In a recent paper in Biological Conservation, scientists argue that the widespread use of euphemisms by conservation biologists, conservation journals, and conservation biology course materials undermines efforts to evoke caring in others for life on Earth and even to care for ourselves.

Euphemisms like "harvest," "cull," and "bycatch" are used as a means to mask the indefensible. They help candy coat reality by describing activities (like killing) in acceptable words that audiences would otherwise find objectionable.

But the words we use matter. Euphemisms don't only disconnect the scientific community from the consequences of their actions, they diminish or preclude emotion. And it is emotion that connects us to each other, to other creatures, to the wider world that made us.

Is it time for all of us to be bolder?


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Mexican Gray Wolf "Trumpet" Turns One!


A year ago today, Mexican gray wolf 1143 (“Rosa”) gave birth to a single pup, f1505, a robust little girl nicknamed “Trumpet” for her loud squeals. Today a new chapter begins the critically endangered kiddo, it’s her time to transition from puppy-hood to adulthood. So throw back your head and let out a long celebratory birthday howl for Trumpet! Welcome to yearling-hood!

Unbeknownst to the birthday girl, Trumpet has been creeping into the hearts and homes of a global audience thanks to the Wolf Conservation Center's remote webcams. At just a few weeks old, Trumpet even became a TV star on ABC News - raising awareness for her critically endangered kin and our efforts to save her species from extinction.

ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

Thank you, Trumpet, for unknowingly becoming such a powerhouse in the fight to restore Mexican gray wolves to their ancestral homes in the wild!

Help support the Wolf Conservation Center’s efforts to protect and preserve wolf populations in North America by adopting a birthday wolf! We offer several adoption levels. No matter what the level, each adoption kit includes an 8×10 wolf photo, wolf biography, adoption certificate and a subscription to our newsletter. Learn more.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Why do wolves' eyes glow in the dark?

Eyes that glow in the pitch-black night make for many a scary tale. But why do wolves' eyes glow in the dark?

Wolves have a special light-reflecting surface right behind their retinas called the tapetum lucidum that helps animals see better in the dark. When light enters the eye, it's supposed to hit a photoreceptor that transmits the information to the brain. But sometimes the light doesn't hit the photoreceptor, so the tapetum lucidum acts as a mirror to bounce it back for a second chance. Cool!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Red Wolf Fab Five Turn Two!

Two years ago today on May 2, 2015, five critically endangered red wolves were born – all of them beautiful and each one a valuable contribution to the recovery of his and her rare and at-risk species.

Today a new chapter begins for fab five, M2116, M2117, M2118, M2119 and F2121, turn two! Happy birthday, kiddos! And thank you for unknowingly becoming such powerful players in the fight to preserve red wolves’ rightful place in the wild!

Help support the Wolf Conservation Center's efforts to protect and preserve wolf populations in North America by adopting a birthday wolf! We offer several adoption levels. No matter what the level, each adoption kit includes a 8×10 wolf photo, wolf biography, adoption certificate and a subscription to our newsletter. Learn more.

Monday, May 1, 2017

New Threat to Yellowstone Wolves


Protected from hunting and trapping, wolves in Yellowstone National Park are better able to express their natural social behavior. This benefits the wider ecosystem, long-running wolf research, ecotourism (wolf watching in Yellowstone alone is estimated to generate $35 million annually for the regional economy), as well as the wolves themselves.
When a family group of wolves is left unexploited (that is, not trapped, shot, poisoned or otherwise killed by humans), it will develop extraordinary traditions for hunting, pup-rearing, and social behaviors that are finely tuned to its precise environment and that are unique to that particular long-lived family group. Younger wolves are able to learn sophisticated hunting strategies from their elders. Better equipped to successfully hunt large prey, protected wolves can take their place as the keystone species that is so critical within the ecosystem. When it comes to wolves, it's all about family.

But all this may change, researchers say, as more hunting is allowed beyond the park’s boundaries.

More via The New York Times.