Monday, July 31, 2017

Watch Endangered Mexican Wolf Pups Live Via Wolf Conservation Center's New High-def Webcam

Our new high-def Mexican Gray Wolf Pup webcam is up and running! Join the critically endangered kiddos right now HERE.

Beyond being cute, the 10 week old pups represent the Wolf Conservation Center's active participation to save a species from extinction.

Learn more about the three little girls.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Nobody Does Night Better than Wolves

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Wolf "Management" on America's Public Lands

Earlier this week the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) lethally removed a state endangered wolf to protect cows grazing on public lands.

The wolf was a member of the "Smackout" family group.

The department did not release any details about the kill, including the age or gender of the wolf, or how, when, or where it was killed. In its update, WDFW stated that "removal operations are ongoing, and the department will provide another update in one week."

Although Washington stands apart from other states by requiring the utilization of nonlethal practices, such as employing range riders to separate wolves from cattle, the debate surrounding WDFW's wolf management plan remains contentious. Wolves evoke intense emotions so it's not surprising that the discussion can turn vitriolic.

But beyond the wide range of human emotions inspired by this politicized species, a key issue remains at the center of the debate.

The public lands of the United States harbor some of the greatest resources of our nation and are owned by all Americans. Should Washington be allowed to kill wolves (state endangered no less) on America's public lands to benefit the profit margins of a private business?

Friday, July 28, 2017

A Wolf's Eyes Have the Power to Speak a Great Language

A wolf's eyes have the power to speak a great language. Did you know that wolves possess certain ocular characteristics that allow them to communicate with other members of their species using their eyes alone? One can guess that this gives a new meaning to the common phrase "puppy-dog eyes!"

More via WIRED.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Why Are Wolves Important?

Wolves are a critical keystone species in a healthy ecosystem. A keystone species is often, but not always, a predator - like the wolf. Outnumbered greatly by their prey, predators can control the distribution, population, and behavior of large numbers of prey species.

By altering prey movements, browsing patterns, and foraging behavior (predation risk effects), wolves have an indirect effect on plant and tree regeneration. In this regard, wolves have a trickle-down effect on animals and plants, a phenomenon known as a “trophic cascade.” When present in an ecosystem, wolves have been noted to indirectly impact trees, rivers, songbirds, beaver, fish, and even butterflies.

Without predators, such as wolves, the system fails to support a natural level of biodiversity, and may cease to exist altogether. The preservation of keystone species is essential for maintaining the historic structure and function of the ecosystems they inhabit. #VitalNotVicious #iamessental

Learn more.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Senate Committee Advances Bill S. 1514 - Grows Threats to Wolves and ESA

The Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee voted minutes ago to advance the new Senate Sportsmen’s bill (S.1514) with its "War on Wolves" rider - an amendment proposing to permanently remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Wyoming, to allow trophy hunting of wolves to resume. To add insult to injury, the language on the rider prohibits judicial review thus preventing any legal challenge.

If the War on Wolves legislation is passed into law, wolves will die at the hands of trophy hunters.

Next the bill will be referred to the full Senate for a vote.

Take Action

Please call your senators TODAY and urge them to oppose S. 1514! Take action here.

Find your Senator’s contact info here.


The Endangered Species Act (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 as they now attempt to undermine one of most successful bipartisan pieces of legislation our country has ever adopted.

The ESA requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to follow the best available science, not politics, in recovery planning and implementation for an endangered species. The War on Wolves Rider blatantly ignores this federal mandate, and thus undermines the integrity of our nation’s most significant environmental law.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Appreciate Wildlife. Respect Its Right to Exist.

There is one fundamentally important point that must be widely understood and accepted if the world's wildlife is to be preserved. In addition to the cold, practical reasons for preserving species, we must learn to appreciate wildlife for its intrinsic value, to respect its right to exist, and to have humane concern for the survival of entire species.

In North America, the historic importance of wild animals has been sustained by laws rooted in the premise that wildlife cannot be owned by people but instead is held in trust by government for the benefit of all citizens and future generations.

For the Public Trust Doctrine to be an effective wildlife conservation tool, the public must understand that wild animals, regardless of whose property they are on, belong to everyone. Furthermore, the government, as trustee, must be legally accountable for preserving wildlife for the benefit of present and future essence, preventing its endangerment.

In future decades, will governments preserve biodiversity for future generations? Will wildlife remain wild? The answers to these questions will depend significantly upon people’s awareness of their shared responsibility to be a voice for it.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Deadline is Today to Submit Comment In Support of Red Wolves

Federal wildlife officials want to hear from you about the fate of the endangered red wolf. The USFWS is crafting a revised recovery plan for the red wolf, a process that has been complicated by opposition from some landowners, court cases to stop those landowners from killing the wolves, support from scientists, and conflicting messages from federal officials themselves.

TODAY is the last day that the agency is accepting public input. As of June 13th, the US Fish & Wildlife Service has received more than 2,100 comments. Red wolves need many more voices to save them from the brink of extinction. Please follow this link to see how you can add your voice.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Is it ethical to kill one species to promote the hunting of another on national park and refuge land?

The Interior Dept. ordered a review of federal rules that prevent hunters from killing bears and wolves using techniques many people consider extreme: killing bear cubs and sows with cubs, baiting grizzlies with rotting meat, trapping and snaring bears, and killing wolves while they are raising pups among other controversial methods in Alaska's national parks and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

Why? Alaska wants to kill predators to increase moose and caribou populations for the benefit of hunters. More...

“Alaska's national parks and wildlife refuges are required by federal law to be managed not as private game reserves but to protect natural diversity, including natural predator-prey dynamics,” said Rick Steiner, a retired University of Alaska professor and PEER board member, pointing out that lethal control on park boundaries are devastating in-park wolf populations. “The State of Alaska’s unethical predator control practices have no place in modern society, and certainly not on Alaska’s magnificent national parks and refuges.”

The Interior is pressing forward despite a recent study by scientists for the state game department showing that predator control has little effect on the growth or decline of herds on which they prey. “We detected no convincing support for decreased wolf predation during control,” the study said. “We also detected no support for increased caribou survival during nonlethal or lethal wolf control.” [Read the study here]

What say you? Is it ethical to kill one species to promote the hunting of another on national park and refuge land?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Washington State Plans to Kill Wolves on Public Lands

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Plans to Take Lethal Action to Change Wolf Pack's Behavior

State wildlife managers plan to remove members of the Smackout Pack after repeated depredations on livestock in Stevens County since 2015. Lethal action is consistent with Washington's Wolf Management Plan of 2011 and with the department's policy that allows for the removal of wolves if they prey on livestock three times in a 30-day period or four times in a 10-month period.

An injured calf was found with bite marks consistent with a wolf attack on July 18th in a leased federal grazing area. The public lands of the United States harbor some of the greatest resources of our nation. Federally managed lands, like this remote, rugged, and relatively road-less area of public forest in the northeast corner of Washington state, are owned by ALL Americans.

Should we allow the killing of this nation's wildlife on OUR public lands to benefit the profit margins of a private business?

Read more.

Mexican Gray Wolf Pups Featured on Scientific American

Thank you Scientific American for joining the first wolf pup checkup for the three critically endangered Mexican gray wolf pups born on May

Beyond being adorable, these pups represent the Wolf Conservation 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

Under Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) protocols, captive born pups must be checked during certain milestones in their development. WCC staff checked in when the pups were about 10 days old to determine the size of the litter and take stock of the pups’ health, and again today at their two-month mark to record their heart rate and weight, and administer wormer and the first of a series of Distemper/Parvo vaccinations.

To learn more about the importance and plight of Mexican gray wolves here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Congress Demands Genetic Tests to Delist Endangered Mexican Wolves

Biologists processing a wolf pup, including drawing blood for DNA analysis and affixing a tracking collar. (Photo: Arizona Game and Fish Department)

In an Effort to Strip the Critically Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf of Protections, Congress Now Wants Genetic Tests

Proposed spending plan for the U.S. Interior Department calls for a study to determine whether Mexican gray wolves are a genetically distinct subspecies despite multiple studies that have confirmed the lobo as a valid subspecies.

Extensive, independent DNA testing – including recent studies using a more accurate genetic analysis – shows conclusively that both captive and wild Mexican wolves are a pure wolf subspecies and substantially different from northern gray wolves, dogs and coyotes. Biologists from the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team pull blood from every new wolf they collar or handle and submit it for DNA analysis to continually monitor the purity of wild Mexican wolves.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

From Wolf to Wiener Dog? When Did it All Begin?


The long-debated question of where dogs first appeared has always been complex. Wolves are the ancestors of dogs, but for years researchers have been unable to agree on when the canines were first domesticated. In a new study, a palaeogeneticist finds your dog’s ancestor came from wolves 40,000 yrs ago.

In the paper, titled “Ancient European dog genomes reveal continuity since the Early Neolithic,” in the journal Nature Communications, Stony Brook University's Krishna R. Veeramah, PhD and colleagues write that the most plausible explanation was a single instance of domestication as far as 40,000 years ago, contrary to the results of a previous analysis in 2016 that suggested dogs were domesticated twice.

However, Veeramah did not make any claims as to where dogs split from wolves, he noted.

More from Stony Brook University's SBU Happenings.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Mexican Wolf Pups Get Clean Bill Of Health at First Vet Visit

On May 22, Mexican gray wolf F1226 (affectionately nicknamed Belle) made a priceless contribution to the recovery of her rare and at-risk species, she gave birth to three pups!

The Wolf Conservation Center is one of 55 facilities in the U.S. and Mexico participating in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan(SSP)– 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.

Under Mexican Wolf SSP protocols, captive born pups must be checked during certain milestones in their development. WCC staff checked in when the pups were about 10 days old to determine the size of the litter and take stock of the pups’ health. Today, near the pups’ two-month mark, WCC volunteer veterinarian Paul Maus, DVM from North Westchester Veterinary Office, joined Wolf Conservation Center staff and volunteers to record each pup’s heart rate and weight, and administer wormer and the first of a series of Distemper/Parvo vaccinations.

All three little girls are look robust and healthy weighing between 7-8 pounds.

In an effort to raise awareness for Mexican gray wolves and our active participation in endangered species recovery, we invited a global audience to join the wellness check in real-time via Facebook’s live streaming application. The video reached nearly two million viewers by end of day! Unbeknownst to the critically endangered kiddos, they're already making a big difference.


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.

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.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Closer Look Reveals States Don’t Support Recovery of the Mexican Gray Wolf


For Immediate Release, July 16th 2017
Contacts: Maggie Howell, (914) 763-2373,
Dave Parsons, (505) 908-0468,

Closer Look Reveals States Don’t Support Recovery of the Mexican Gray Wolf 
Despite Their Central Role in the Recovery Planning Process

Albuquerque, NM – On June 29th the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) released its draft recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf. The critically endangered species is in the midst of a genetic crisis brought on by indiscriminate removals, a very small founder population, and the unwillingness of the Service to release enough wolves into the wild. The recovery plan has not been updated since 1982, a full sixteen years before Mexican gray wolves were first released. The newest recovery plan was created by collaborating exclusively with four southwestern states that have shown hostility towards the program, resulting in a plan that may doom the wolves. Representatives of these states have replaced the expert independent wolf biologists and related experts who were a central part of the last attempt at recovery planning which began in 2011. And all non-governmental stakeholders were cut out of the continued recovery planning process. The resulting draft plan hands total power over releases, wolf genetics, and the success of the program to the states.

Despite strong public support for wolf recovery in the southwestern states of Arizonaand New Mexico,where the wolves live now, and Utah and Colorado, where they will need to expand in the future, state game agencies have been actively sabotaging the wolves’ chances to recover. “They have been spending tax payer money on anti-wolf lobbyists,supporting increased killing of wolves,denying permits, and suing the federal government to stop needed wolf releases,” said Maggie Howell of the Wolf Conservation Center.

The law says recovery plans must be based on the best available science, but the states have instead told the Service what they will accept – too few wolves to ever be safe from extinction, and where they will accept them – mostly in Mexico, where neither the states nor the US government has any authority. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scrapped a science-based, multi-stakeholder recovery planning process and willfully invited the states who have demonstrated their hostility to Mexican wolves to rewrite the recovery plan,” said Dave Parsons of Project Coyote. “The last time the Fish and Wildlife service allowed the states to manage Mexican wolf recovery, the population declined by 24% over a six year period.” The paper Four States’ Efforts to Derail Wolf Recovery was released to the public today. It details the various ways the four states have tried to block or frustrate recovery of the Mexican gray wolf.

Without immediate attention to releasing more wolves in more places, this rare little wolf of the southwest United States and northern Mexico will disappear forever. Unfortunately, the draft recovery plan completely turns over the control of releases in the U.S. to the states of Arizona and New Mexico. Given their previous unwillingness to release enough wolves in their states, and their blocking of all releases of adults, the future of our iconic southwestern lobos looks grim.

The Wolf Conservation Center is an environmental education organization committed to conserving wolf populations in North America through science-based education programming and participation in the federal Species Survival Plans for the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf and red wolf. Through wolves the WCC teaches the broader message of conservation, ecological balance, and personal responsibility for improved human stewardship of our World. For more information, visit

Project Coyote is a national nonprofit organization and a North American coalition of wildlife educators, scientists, ranchers, and community leaders promoting coexistence between people and wildlife, and compassionate conservation through education, science, and advocacy. For more information, visit

Saturday, July 15, 2017

For Wolves, Playtime Strengthens Family Bonds

This is what brotherhood 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?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Letter Urges Release of Endangered Mexican Gray Wolves Into Wild


Thirty-one conservation and wolf-protection organizations, including the Wolf Conservation Center, sent a letter today urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expeditiously release endangered Mexican gray wolves to the wild.

Adding new wolves from captivity to the struggling wild population is vital to diversifying the gene pool of the 113 closely related wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico, the letter noted.

“Inbreeding could push the Mexican wolf over the cliff toward extinction if the Fish and Wildlife Service doesn’t release captive wolves soon,” said Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The trail forward for successful recovery gets steeper and narrower every day that wolf families are kept behind wire mesh, when they could be helping fix the genetic crisis in the wild.”

Two specific packs should be freed this month, according to recommendations from a federal and state interagency Mexican wolf team. The team advised that releases occur in June or July after elk calves are born “to facilitate natural hunting behavior.” Conservationists want to ensure those wolves are not sequestered indefinitely in pens, as wolf families have been in previous years after release plans were shelved. Today’s letter recommends specific animals and release locations in southern New Mexico.

The conservationists requested that other wolves also be released, including a single female from Mexico, christened “Sonora” by schoolchildren in a naming contest, who was captured after crossing the border into Arizona in March. Freeing her in the United States to breed with wolves here would follow guidelines in the new draft Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan that calls for “translocations” of wolves between U.S. and Mexico populations to enhance both populations’ genetics.

Read more via Center for Biological Diversity.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The lobos are ready and the wild is calling!

These critically endangered Mexican gray wolves represent one of the two potential lobo families chosen for release into the Gila National Forest as per the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2017 Initial Release and Translocation Plan, p. 3.

Here's hoping we receive an update from USFWS re: when these lobos will receive the call of the wild.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Study Finds Red Wolves Have Lost 99% of Natural Range


New research published today in Royal Society Open Science quantifies range contractions of 25 large carnivore species.

The analysis reveals that the carnivores that have experienced the greatest range contractions include the red wolf (greater than 99%), Ethiopian wolf (99%), tiger (95%) and lion (94%).

Large carnivores are among the world's most threatened species. They face a wide variety of anthropogenic threats including persecution by humans, particularly over livestock-related conflicts, hunting and trapping, and loss of prey base.

Although changes in species' ranges are ongoing, with newer threats like anthropogenic climate change, it is critical to continue to monitor large carnivore ranges to ensure the future of these species. The authors of the study hope their analysis serves as a starting point for this by providing an accurate measure of the historic and current status of the world's largest carnivores.

Read the study HERE.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

New Legislative Attack on America's Gray Wolves


Today members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies released a new funding bill that includes riders which would:

1) Make wolves fair game for trophy hunting and trapping again in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. In addition to permanently removing federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for gray wolves in the above mentioned states, the rider includes language that prohibits its judicial review, thus preventing any legal challenge.

2) Block funding for Endangered Species Act protections for ALL gray wolves in the lower 48 states - including the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf. Currently, there is a single wild population of this critically endangered gray wolf subspecies comprising only 113 individuals.

Beyond being anti-wolf, these toxic riders undermine the integrity of the Endangered Species Act - the world’s "gold standard” for conservation and protection of animals.

Stay tuned for updates.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Throw Amazon Prime Day to the WOLVES!

July 10 (9PM) - The next 30 hours will be one of the busiest times of the year on Amazon because it's Amazon Prime Day - an online-deals event that promises big discounts. If you plan on taking part, consider turning your shopping spree into a fundraiser for wolves! AmazonSmile, which lets you select a nonprofit organization, such as the Wolf Conservation Center Inc., to receive a percentage of your purchase price!

It's easy to sign up and use, try it HERE.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Last Chance to Speak Up to Save Our Monuments


That's the deadline to speak up and #SaveOurMonuments. With the end of this comment period, the Trump Administration is completing the first step of an unprecedented campaign to erode the fundamentals of America's public lands tradition. If you don't want to allow special interests like fossil fuel and mining companies call the shots on lands that are supposed to be protected for all of us, please take action now.

The Wilderness Society makes it easy for us to defend our public lands.

Submit your comment HERE.

Now or never.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Mexican Wolf Mom: Protector and Pillow

As a critical keystone species, Mexican gray wolves are essential. As a warm snuggly pillow, moms are essential too.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Doubling Down On Efforts to Kill Wolves, Idaho Considers Bait

WOLF_BAITING_LOGO_SMAlthough no other state allows the use of bait to hunt wolves for trophy, in its ongoing effort to kill wolves, Idaho is considering a new rule that would allow wolf baiting. Since protections were lifted for wolves in Idaho 2011, the state has made clear its intentions to "manage" wolves with a heavy hand. Not only does the Gem State sanction robust trophy wolf hunting/trapping seasons, it also established a state "Wolf Depredation Control Board" on which Idaho budgets $400,000 annually to exterminate wolves, often by aerial gunning, and even in wilderness areas.


Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) is giving the public a chance to weigh in by accepting comments on the proposed rule until July 26. Please consider taking a few seconds to fill out IDFG's survey to tell Idaho that under NO circumstances should baiting be allowed.

(Check "no" to question 1-3, and "yes" to question 4)

Complete the survey HERE.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Alaska's Largest Lethal Wolf Control Program To End


Alaska is scheduled to end it's largest lethal wolf control program! The Upper Yukon Tanana area program, which has targeted wolves in an area of the eastern interior since 2004, is scheduled to cease after the 2017-2018 season.

Since 2004, over 1000 wolves have been killed via aerial gunning under the program, costing tax payers millions of dollars and the National Park Service (NPS) several years of irreplaceable research. Yukon Charley Rivers National Preserve Superintendent Greg Dudgeon said some of the wolves lost were part of a long running NPS study, which was halted due to the state wolf kill.

“We did lose several years in what had been a 22-year-long for wolves with home ranges within Yukon Charley River’s natural preserve,” Dudgeon said. “We won’t get that back.”

The State’s long running Upper Yukon Tanana lethal wolf control effort has been aim aimed at increasing caribou numbers for hunters by reducing the number of wolves, but Alaska Department of Fish and Game regional supervisor Darren Bruning said research indicates wolves are not the limiting factor.

More via Alaska Public Media.

Take Action for Mexican Gray Wolves

In November 2014, the Wolf Conservation Center was among 5 conservation groups who sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for its failure to develop a valid recovery plan for the imperiled Mexican gray wolf, one of the most endangered mammals in North America.

As part of the court settlement reached last year, USFWS is required to complete a plan by Nov. 30, 2017 containing objective and measurable criteria for recovery as required by the Endangered Species Act. Last week the agency released its draft.

USFWS did not deliver.

In lieu of drafting a legitimate, science-based recovery blueprint that will ensure the survival of these iconic and imperiled wolves, USFWS yielded to political pressure to create a scheme that grants the very state agencies which have repeatedly attempted to obstruct recovery, ultimate authority on when, where, and how wolves are released into the wild.

Efforts to recover endangered species, including Mexican gray wolves, must be based on the best available science, not politics. More

Submit Comments/Attend a Public Meeting

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s plan is available for public comment until August 29.

There will be four public meetings this summer in New Mexico and Arizona:

  • July 18, 6-9 p.m. Northern Arizona University, Prochnow Auditorium, South Knowles Drive, Flagstaff, AZ
  • July 19, 6-9 p.m.. Hon-Dah Resort, Casino Banquet Hall, 777 AZ–260, Pinetop, AZ
  • July 20, 6-9 p.m. Ralph Edwards Auditorium, Civic Center, 400 West Fourth, Truth or Consequences, NM
  • July 22, 2-5 p.m. Crowne Plaza Albuquerque, 1901 University Boulevard NE,
  • Albuquerque, NM
To review and comment on the draft revised recovery plan and related documents, visit and enter the docket number FWS–R2–ES–2017–0036 in the search bar.

View the Draft Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Independence Day

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Please Be Mindful of Wildlife on Independence Day

Celebrating Independence Day is, and should be, a lot of fun. But please remember that those bright colors and thunderous explosions can have a real impact to wildlife. Please be mindful. Here are some tips for watching out for wildlife!

TIPS FOR WATCHING OUT FOR WILDLIFE from U.S. Fish and Wildlife. This post originally appeared in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Open Spaces blog

Celebrating Independence Day is, and should be, a lot of fun. Barbecues, beaches, parades and fireworks can be great ways to celebrate our country’s tremendous journey since the Continental Congress made that declaration July 4, 1776: “We hold these truths to be self-evident... “ But please remember that those bright colors and thunderous explosions can have a real impact to wildlife. Here are a few ways you can help mitigate the harm to wildlife and their habitats while you celebrate the Fourth of July.

Be alert: The shock of fireworks can cause wildlife and pets to flee, ending up in unexpected areas or roadways, flying into buildings and other obstacles, and even abandoning nests, leaving young vulnerable to predators. If you’re out driving, please be on the lookout for animals.

Help prevent fires: The threat to wildlife doesn’t stop at startling lights and sounds, fireworks also have the potential to start wildfires, directly affecting wildlife and destroying essential habitat.

Keep it clean: Litter from firecrackers, bottle rockets and other explosives can be choking hazards for wildlife and may even be toxic if ingested.

If you’re on the beach, watch out for nesting birds: Fireworks are very disruptive to piping plovers as well as many other nesting birds so be on the lookout for signs. We can work together to protect nesting shorebirds.

Cut back on using plastic or disposable utensils: During holiday celebrations we tend to break out the plastic utensils, plates and cups. Avoiding plasticware can easily reduce the amount of waste we create and inevitably help wildlife and their habitat, especially given the growing concern of plastic waste.

Properly dispose of fishing gear: Anglers can reduce the injuries or deaths to wildlife simply by properly discarding fishing line and hooks. Retrieve broken lines, lures and hooks and deposit them in trash containers or take them with you.

Follow laws and use caution: Federal law requires professional shows to be at least three-quarters of a mile from protected habitat. As you celebrate, choose fireworks shows that keep a respectable distance from wildlife habitat. If you plan to set off your own fireworks, make sure it is legal, use caution and you pick up any resulting debris. Stay away from wildlife habitat and avoid dry areas. Keep in mind that fireworks can’t be brought onto federal lands. Violations can come with stiff penalties, including fines costing thousands of dollars to jail time. Law enforcement officers are on the lookout for possession of illegal fireworks and use of fireworks in prohibited areas.

Alternatives to Fireworks:If you are looking to celebrate without using fireworks, there are a number of alternatives. Here are a few ideas, but we’d love to hear other ideas.

Laser light shows
Gathering around a firepit
Participate in a parade or block party
Bubbles (for kids afraid of loud noises)
Noisemakers and more

Stay safe this Fourth of July and thanks for keeping wildlife in mind as you celebrate!