Monday, December 31, 2018

Counting Down to a New Year


Looking back and preparing for what's ahead.

Once again, we’re on the cusp of a new year. As we count down to 2019, we get to reflect on the year’s highlights and hardships and prepare for what’s ahead.

We faced some extraordinary challenges in 2018, none bigger than saying goodbye to Atka after he died peacefully in his sleep on September 22.

Although losing Atka leaves an enormous hole in our hearts, his larger-than-life influence on the world persists. His legacy lives on in an empowered public who will continue the fight to safeguard his wild kin. Atka taught us that each of us can make a difference, and all of us ought to try.

We know that we have our work cut out for us in the months and years to come, but like Atka, we’re not going to shy away from the tough challenges.

So as we close 2018, we thank you for your support and rededicate ourselves to our mission.

Atka worked to create a better world for wolves, and so will we.

See you in 2019!

Friday, December 28, 2018

On Its 45th Anniversary, Feds Wage War Against The Endangered Species Act

Forty-five years ago, on December 28th, 1973, President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) 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.

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 in 2015 found that the ESA is supported by 90% of American voters.

Today, the ESA is more important than ever before. New research suggests we are in the midst of a period of heightened biological extinction, with rates several orders of magnitude higher than background rates estimated from the fossil record. Moreover, a shocking 60% of the earth's mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles have been lost since 1970, according to WWF's 2018 Living Planet Report.

Given that science has concluded that we have entered an unprecedented period of climate change and human-caused Sixth Mass extinction, one would think the government would pull out all the stops to help imperiled species heal and flourish. Instead, it's rolling out a series of regulatory changes that threaten to cripple the ESA.

The Fed's "Extinction Plan" would weaken endangered species protections by:

  • Making it more difficult to extend protections to threatened species, delaying lifesaving action until a species' population is so small it may be challenging or impossible to save
  • Exempting climate change from key parts of the law, making it more difficult to protect the polar bear, the bearded seal, and many other imperiled species that are impacted by the effects of climate change
  • Requiring economic factors to be analyzed when deciding if a species should be saved
  • Making it easier for companies to build roads, pipelines, mines, and other industrial projects in critical habitat areas that are essential to imperiled species' survival

When President Nixon signed the ESA into law he said, "Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed."

Today, it's essential to remember the values that the government embraced four decades ago by withdrawing its regulatory proposals which seek to undermine the most successful bipartisan pieces of legislation our country has ever adopted.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Peace on Earth

Goodwill to all.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Deck the Halls!

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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Giving Endangered Wolves the Gift of Flight

Karen, Tom, and WCC Curator Rebecca Bose

Critically endangered Mexican gray wolves M1506 (Duffy) and F1508 (KB) first received the celebrity treatment when they grew up, unknowingly, in the eyes of thousands of global fans through the Wolf Conservation Center's live webcams, but the siblings were elevated to a new level of stardom this week! Thanks to the generosity of pilot Tom Haas, the pair flew across the country on a private plane - talk about an adventure!

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 Duffy and KB were found to be excellent matches, genetically, with Mexican wolves at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park and Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

With breeding season approaching, we needed to get Duffy and KB from New York to their new homes. But how?

For occasions such as this, we call upon a very special group to help – one with wings!

Enormous thanks to LightHawk, a volunteer-based environmental aviation organization that donates flights for conservation, and pilot Tom Haas for flying the critically endangered lobos to New Mexico and Ohio earlier this week. While we're sad to see the siblings leave, we're excited for the future - perhaps they'll fall in love with their new lobos and have pups!

Learn more about Mexican gray wolves:

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Ready or not, here comes Nikai!

Meet Ambassador wolf Nikai!

He’s a powerful presence in the fight to preserve wolves’ rightful place in the environment.

Learn more!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Juvenile Wolf Killed to Protect Sheep Grazing on Public Lands

In September, federal officials killed a male wolf pup in Idaho to protect a private business - the Flat Top Sheep Company. What's especially disconcerting is that that the private company grazes its sheep on public lands, and protocols that call for minimum measures to prevent conflict were ignored.

Instead, Idaho officials used tax-payer dollars to hire Wildlife Services, the strategically misnamed federal agency within the USDA, to kill the young wolf.

The public lands of the United States harbor some of the greatest resources of our nation and are owned by all Americans, not this private enterprise.

This begs the question, should we allow the killing of wildlife on our public lands to benefit the profit margins of a private business?

George Wuerthner, a former ecologist botanist with the Idaho Bureau of Land Management, discusses in The Wildlife News the ecological costs of grazing on public lands and why killing public wildlife for private profit is wrong.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Wolf Conservation Center Named Among "25 Most Interesting Webcams" of 2018!

Webcam lovers’ favorite tradition returns with the 2018 edition of EarthCam’s 25 Most Interesting Webcams. EarthCam's 2018 list of winning webcams includes everything from breathtaking scenery to scientific experiments and even wolves at the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC)!

The 20th annual list spans 8 countries and features engaging live webcams that entertained millions of people around the world in 2018.

Year round, visitors to the WCC enjoy meeting Ambassador wolves Alawa, Zephyr, and Nikai, but the WCC is actually home to 48 wolves! Most of the WCC’s “other” 45 wolves, both Mexican gray wolves and red wolves, reside off-exhibit, but not necessarily out of view! Unbeknownst to the wolves, live webcams invite an unlimited number of viewers to enter their private lives.

In the spirit of George Orwell’s “1984,” the WCC uses webcams to observe food and water intake and monitor the physical well-being of each wolf without the animals’ knowledge. The cameras also allow staff to study family dynamics and thus make the best recommendations with respect to which wolves are most suitable for release.

The cameras also give a global audience an opportunity to learn about these critically endangered species and our efforts to recover them. Thanks to the webcams, the Center’s educational reach far exceeds the boundary of its gates in South Salem, NY! The webcams have been wildly popular all around the world!

Tune in to our webcams here!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

NPS Reports Six Yellowstone Wolves Killed By Humans in 2017

Last week the National Park Service (NPS) its Yellowstone Wolf Project Annual Report, a detailed report of wolf activity within the park during 2017.

According to the report, four radio-collared wolves died in 2017 (table 2): one was killed by other wolves, one kicked and killed by an ungulate, one died of canine distemper virus (CDV), and one died of unknown natural causes (necropsy was delayed due to remoteness and exact cause of death could not be determined). All ranged from six and a half years to eight years old.

Wolf populations regulate themselves by natural forces such as intra-pack strife, competition with neighboring packs and predators, and ailments like distemper and mange.

Packs continuously emerge and collapse; it’s Nature’s way.

But with authorized wolf hunts in every state that borders the park, Yellowstone wolves face unnatural threats too, and some not lawful.

According to the report, staff recorded six uncollared adult wolf deaths and they were all caused by humans. Five were killed during the wolf hunting season in Montana (one old adult, three adults, and one pup) and one, the 12-year-old white matriarch of the Canyon Pack, was illegally shot inside park boundaries and had to be euthanized by park staff.

Wolves are more valuable alive than dead

Hunting wolves in the greater Yellowstone region conflicts with Yellowstone’s mission to protect the animals for study and for people to view.

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.

A 2017 scientific visitor survey found that the number one draw to Yellowstone is wildlife - specifically wolves and grizzly bears.

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

Friday, December 14, 2018

Wolf Conservation Center Welcomes New Red Wolf to the Pack!

The Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) family just got a little bigger!

Yesterday, red wolf Everest (F2204) arrived at the WCC from the Tallahassee Museum. Once she settles in, the dark beauty will be introduced to red wolf brothers Moose Jr (M2119) and Tyke (M2118) in hope that Everest will fall in love with one of the brothers and make a valuable contribution to the recovery of their rare species by having pups in the spring.

Genetic diversity is the primary consideration in the selection of Mexican wolf breeding pairs. 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.

We won’t know the outcome of a potential union until “pup season” in April or May. But in the meantime, throw back your head and let out a long welcoming howl for the newest member of the WCC family!

Check in on her via live webcam!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Five Endangered Mexican Gray Wolves Found Dead Last Month in New Mexico

Wildlife officials announced in their Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Monthly Update that five critically endangered Mexican gray wolves were found dead in November, bringing the total of documented wolf mortalities so far this year to 17.

The deceased wolves, all located in New Mexico, include AM1447 of the Frieborn Pack, fp1826 of the Prieto Pack, AM1038 of the Hawks Nest Pack, m1680 of the Saffel Pack, and Single M1486.

All of the incidents are currently under investigation by USFWS Law Enforcement.

While their deaths alone are devastating, the implications could be far-ranging. A recent study found that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials who manage the Mexican wolf recovery program are underestimating the rate of poaching by up to 21%.

Between 1998 and 2015, there were 155 deaths and disappearances in New Mexico and Arizona of radio-collared Mexican wolves. Of these wolves, 53 had “unknown fates.” Today, the wild U.S. population hovers around 114 individuals.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Red Wolf Ancestry Re-discovered Along the American Gulf Coast

Rediscovering species once thought to be extinct or on the edge of extinction is rare. Red wolves have been extinct along the American Gulf Coast since 1980, with their last populations found in coastal Louisiana and Texas.

In a paper published yesterday, researchers report the rediscovery of red wolf ghost alleles in a canid population on Galveston Island, Texas.

This could be groundbreaking for the species and broader conservation efforts!

Find more scientific papers re red wolves.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Aldo Leopold's Epic Question

“Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher 'standard of living' is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free.”

~Aldo Leopold, Foreword to A Sand County Almanac (1949)

Do the needs of big industry trump the need to conserve our wilderness and those that inhabit it?

Saturday, December 8, 2018

How many wild wolves remain throughout the United States?

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By the 1960s, government-sponsored extermination had wiped out nearly all wolves in the Lower 48 states.

Only a small population of gray wolves remained in extreme northeastern Minnesota and on Isle Royale.

The last handful of wild red wolves remained in the U.S. southeast.

After passage of the federal Endangered Species Act in 1973 and protection of both wolf species as endangered, federal recovery programs resulted in the rebound of wolf populations in limited parts of the country.

Due to changing state and federal legislation and policies, wolves face continued challenges in the wild.


Friday, December 7, 2018

The Best Sunsets Include Wolves

Thursday, December 6, 2018

High Beaver Numbers in Voyageurs National Park Benefit Fragile Moose Population

The abundance of beaver in Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota may be taking some of the predator pressure off of the park's moose herd. Research has revealed that that many wolves in the park choose to hunt and eat beaver instead of moose and deer. As a result, the park's moose numbers have remained stable while populations of moose are declining across nearly all of Minnesota's moose range.

Learn more about the Voyageurs Wolf Project.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Wolves: Vital. Not Villainous.

Critically endangered Mexican gray wolves can help the bring back the balance in the American Southwest.

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.

Fate of Wolves To Be Decided By Politicians by December 21

Republican and Democratic leaders on Monday agreed to a two-week stopgap spending measure through Dec. 21, a move that pushes Friday's deadline for funding the remaining seven unfinished spending bills (and a possible partial government shutdown) to within a few days of Christmas.

Among the seven bills remaining on the table is the 2019 Interior/EPA appropriations bill, in which damaging anti-wildlife amendments (riders) that undermine the Endangered Species Act (ESA) remain in play. One provision in the House goes as far as to remove protection for gray wolves nationwide, a move which will open trophy hunting of wolves in several states as early as 2019.

In a positive move, the Senate moved its FY2019 Interior-Environment bill (S. 3073) without the addition of anti-wildlife budget riders poised to threaten wolves. Moreover, thirty-two Senators, ninety-seven House Members, and 252 groups all agree: government spending bills are no place for attacks on our nation’s imperiled wildlife.

It's critical that these Endangered Species Act champions on the Hill and remain strong in support of wolves and the ESA. If not, wolves won't have anything to celebrate come Christmas this year.

Monday, December 3, 2018


Conservation Community Supports Penalty for Violating Federal Law 

ALBUQUERQUE, NM-- Last week, the Gila National Forest served rancher Craig Thiessen notice of a decision to cancel the grazing permit for the Canyon del Buey allotment near Reserve, New Mexico. Thiessen had pleaded guilty to intentionally trapping and bludgeoning a Mexican wolf with a shovel on public lands in 2015. Forest Service grazing regulations authorize the agency to revoke the permit of any permittee who is convicted of failing to comply with federal laws relating to the protection of wildlife, including, in this case, the Endangered Species Act.

“The victim here was a 10-month old wolf pup, named ‘Mia Tuk’ by Jaryn Allen of Albuquerque, from the Willow Springs pack, a family that no longer exists in part because of Mr. Thiessen’s actions,” said Greta Anderson, Deputy Director of Western Watersheds Project. “We’re glad that the Forest Service is showing that it takes wolf recovery seriously and won’t let ranchers get away with illegally killing these important predators.”

"I’m happy to hear this news that the US Forest Service took action. I’m still sad that Mia Tuk was killed in such a brutal manner, but it now seems as though his death is bringing about change that could better protect wolves. Many years ago, wolves thrived on this land then people came in and took the land from them. I hope wolves will be able to thrive on this land once again," said Jaryn Allen, 12, Albuquerque.

“There is no justice for Mia Tuk but there is some measure of justice for our public lands when those who act so brutally face consequences,” said Christopher Smith, Southern Rockies Wildlife Advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “Public lands ranching is a privilege. Thiessen abused that privilege violently and so we’re grateful the Forest Service took action to revoke his permit.”

“The Forest Service got it right and upheld the rule of law,” says Madeleine Carey, Greater Gila Guardian for WildEarth Guardians. “Far too often, these heavily subsidized ranchers, like the Bundys or Hammonds, are enabled rather than held accountable. We applaud the Forest Service for exercising its authority to protect the public interest on our public lands.”

“Thirty-three organizations and twenty individuals joined a letter last June calling for the Forest Service to take this very action, and hundreds of wolf supporters expressed outrage to the agency through phone calls and letters,” said Sandy Bahr, chapter director for Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon (Arizona) Chapter. “The Forest Service’s decision to take this action is a powerful affirmation that wolves belong on public lands and violent permittees do not.”


A copy of Mr. Thiessen’s guilty plea is online here. A copy of the conservation community’s June 2018 letter urging the agency to take this action is also online. A copy of the Forest Service email to Congressional representatives is pasted here.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Happy Hanukkah!

Chag Sameach from the Wolf Conservation Center family to yours!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Boopiest Snoot And So Much More

Mexican gray wolf Craighead (m1746) - the teeny tiniest wolf at the Wolf Conservation Center

Beyond being among the boopiest snoots in the animal kingdom, a wolf's nose is a powerful organ.

With over 200 million olfactory cells housed in the nose, the wolf’s sense of smell is its most acute sense.

Scent plays a very important role in the life of the wolf, by smell alone wolves can locate prey, family members, or enemies. It can tell them if other wolves are in the area, if those wolves are male or female, and how recently they visited.

Learn more!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Although Fewer than 30 Wild Red Wolves Remain, USFWS Opts to Delay Recovery Efforts

With just 24 critically endangered red wolves remaining in the wild, the red wolf is already dangerously close to extinction. We're facing an irrevocable loss and it's happening quickly right under our noses.

Yet earlier today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its decision to delay any action:

"In light of a federal court ruling issued earlier this month in the Eastern District of North Carolina, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is extending its review of a proposed rule to adapt its management of red wolves in the state. The additional review time will provide the Service the opportunity to fully evaluate the implications of the court decision."
USFWS's decision to delay its commitment to recovering the world's most endangered wolf comes just three weeks after a federal judge ruled that USFWS has a duty under the Endangered Species Act to implement proactive conservation measures to achieve species recovery.

USFWS's announcement also comes one day before it's federal proposal, announced in June, was to be finalized.

With fewer than 30 wild red wolves remaining, how much time can we afford to waste?


USFWS Proposed Regulations

In June, the USFWS released its proposal for managing the last wild red wolves - a single population in eastern North Carolina consisting of fewer than 30 individuals. The Service proposed to reduce the red wolf recovery area by nearly 90 percent and limit the wild population to just 10 – 15 wolves. The proposal would also eliminate protections for any red wolves that wander off the newly-designated recovery area, effectively allowing anyone to kill red wolves on private lands, for any reason.

Americans Overwhelmingly Support Red Wolf Recovery

Endangered species recovery is a matter of pride and concern for all U.S. citizens. When USFWS solicited public comments on its draft proposal, the plan was met with near unanimous opposition from the American public. Out of 108,124 comments submitted between June 28th and August 28th, 99.9 percent favored the need for strong federal protections for red wolves.

Only 19 comments explicitly supported the agency’s plan to eliminate red wolf protections and shrink the recovery area. Thirty additional comments - with 13 of these coming from a single real estate developer - expressed general opposition to red wolf recovery.

Red Wolf Victory

With the opportunity to comment closed and USFWS's decision poised to be finalized by November 30, the future for red wolves remained on shaky ground. Without renewed federal commitment to save the last wild red wolves, one of the few apex predators to roam the U.S. Southeast would be relegated to the history books.

Enter Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), a non-profit law firm representing a coalition of conservation groups who initiated a lawsuit against USFWS in 2015 for authorizing the capturing and killing of non-problem red wolves, and abandoning conservation measures that had been used for decades. In an October court hearing, SELC asked the federal judge to intervene as USFWS's imminent plan would hasten the animal’s extinction and be a further violation of federal law.

Examining USFWS’s decisions to allow private landowners to shoot and kill red wolves, to end captive-to-wild release events, and to end efforts to prevent hybridization with coyotes, the court ruled on November 5 that USFWS violated legal requirements to protect and recover the world’s last wild red wolves. The Judge also made permanent the court’s September 29, 2016 order stopping the USFWS from capturing and killing red wolves, and authorizing private landowners to do the same.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Yellowstone Wolf 926F Killed For Trophy

926F by Spencer Wilhelm in 2013
Officials have confirmed that Yellowstone wolf 926F of the Lamar Canyon Pack, known to some as “Spitfire”, was killed for trophy less than five miles from the northeast entrance to the park. She was the daughter of legendary she-wolf 06.

The importance of a keystone predator such as the wolf to a balanced and resilient ecosystem is undeniable. Studies also show that since their return over 20 years ago, wolves have delivered an economic boost to Yellowstone’s surrounding communities. University of Montana researchers found that wolves bring an estimated $35M in annual tourist revenue to the region.

Trophy hunting of wolves brings in money too. Wolf hunting licenses cost $19 for residents and $50 for nonresidents.

Perhaps Montana should take a closer look at the economics of wolf hunting. Seems that Yellowstone wolves are worth a lot more alive than dead.

R.I.P., 926F

You Heard Our Howls - Thank You!

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You did it! Yesterday, the Wolf Conservation Center invited you to be a part of Giving Tuesday and you heard our howls! Over 800 supporters helped the WCC meet our matching grant of $30,000! We are humbled by your support and incredibly grateful for having friends like you.

Thanks again for your encouragement and your commitment to wolves, ecosystem education, species preservation, and environmental advocacy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Your Donation For Wolves Will Be Matched!

Seeing double? That's because it's Giving Tuesday - the day gifts to the wolves have DOUBLE the impact!

All donations received TODAY ONLY (including checks dated November 27) will be matched up to $30,000, thanks to an anonymous pledge from a friend to the wolves!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Tomorrow Only - Your Donation Will Be Matched

All gifts received TOMORROW (including checks dated November 27) will be matched up to a total of $30,000, thanks to an anonymous pledge from a very generous friend!

Mark your calendar to give greater for wolves tomorrow on Giving Tuesday!

Your Support is Critical.
Wolves continue to be subjected to aggressive hunting and trapping in states where 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.

So we need your help.
Your critical support today will help the WCC continue its commitment to ecosystem education, species preservation, and environmental advocacy!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Gifts that Give Back to the Wolves

This holiday season, consider giving a gift that gives back to the wolves! Find wonderfully wild items for people of all ages in the Wolf Conservation Center online store, like these beautiful knitted hats made with Predator Friendly Wool! The wool comes from sheep raised by farmers who do not kill native predators on their land like coyotes, mountain lions, bears, and wolves.

All merchandise proceeds help support the Wolf Conservation Center's work to protect and preserve wolf populations in North America.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Amazing Facts About Turkeys!

Did you know that turkeys are known to exhibit over 20 distinct vocalizations? A distinctive gobble, produced by males, can be heard a mile away!

Just like us and wolves, individual turkeys have unique voices. This is how turkeys recognize each other.

Lots of wild turkeys call the Wolf Conservation Center home. We're thankful to have them - they help control the tick population. Thank you, Turkeys!

Learn more!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Chew On This

Wolves don't feast on Thanksgiving, they feast whenever they can!

Prey isn't always abundant for wolves, so they've developed a metabolism that helps them store fat and energy for long periods while prey is scarce. When food is available, they eat as much as they can – gorging animals, like wolves, can eat great amounts of meat in a single sitting (some say 20+ lbs!) and then go for days without food at all.

So don’t feel bad if you overeat tomorrow on Thanksgiving. You’re simply channeling your inner wolf!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf Howls

Meet Mexican gray wolf F1345, a.k.a. Magdalena.

Magdalena arrived at the Wolf Conservation Center from the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, IL in November of 2016. She lives on exhibit with Mexican gray wolf M1059 (“Diego”).

The dark beauty was born on May 29, 2015, and is the older sister to two wolves who received the “call of the wild” in April of 2016. As pups, her younger siblings were placed in the den of the Arizona-based Elk Horn Pack of wild wolves with the intention that the pack’s adults would raise the two with its own litter. In this process, known as “cross-fostering,” very young pups are moved from a litter at a zoo or wildlife center to a wild litter of similar age so that the receiving pack raises the pups as its own. The technique, which has proven successful with wolves and other wildlife, shows promise to improve the genetic diversity of the wild wolf population.

Learn more about Mexican gray wolves!

Friday, November 16, 2018

U.S. House Passes Bill to Strip Federal Protections for Gray Wolves Nationwide

Science, not Congress, should be the decision-maker when it comes to endangered and threatened species.

Yet the U.S. House just passed H.R. 6784 - a bill seeking to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for all gray wolves in the Lower 48 with the exception of the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf.

In addition to stripping protections for most gray wolves from the federal endangered species list, this bill prohibits its judicial review thus preventing any legal challenge.

It was approved, 196-180, and now goes to the Senate.

See how your representative voted here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Celebrating Wolf Week With North Carolina State University

What better way to promote red wolf recovery than by working with organizations that have a vested interest in safeguarding these critically endangered animals?

The Wolf Conservation Center was proud to join representatives from Defenders of Wildlife, Red Wolf Coalition, Museum of Life and Science, Wildlands Network, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service(USFWS) at NCSU’s “Wolf Week”! Hosted by Wolves 4 Wolves, a student-run organization focused on raising awareness for endangered wolf species, the week is filled with various wolf-related activities to allow students to learn more about these essential predators.

wolves4wolves_logoAfter all, North Carolina is the only place in the entire world where red wolves live in the wild – talk about school pride!
Visit Wolves 4 Wolves to learn more.

Note: The mounted red wolf died of natural causes and is used as an educational tool by USFWS.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

House Bill Seeks to Delist Gray Wolves Nationwide

November 13 -- The U.S. House this week is expected to vote on a controversial bill that would remove the gray wolf from the endangered and threatened species list in most of the country.H.R. 6784, from Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), would remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for the wolves in the Lower 48 by the end of fiscal 2019.

While the return of gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains and the Great Lakes has been an incredible success story, this iconic American species still only occupies a small portion of its former range and wolves have only just started to re-enter areas like northern California, where there are large swaths of suitable habitat. By stripping federal protections from wolves nationwide, wolves in historically occupied areas like the southern Rockies and Northeast may never be able to establish viable populations despite suitable habitat and availability of prey. A national delisting for wolves would reverse the incredible progress that the ESA has achieved for this species over the past few decades and once again put the gray wolf at risk of extirpation.

In addition to stripping protections for most gray wolves from the federal endangered species list, this bill would preclude judicial review of de-listing actions, thus furthering a damaging trend of Congress undermining the ability of Americans to seek out justice and defend our civil rights, public health, and environment.

Take Action Today

Science, not Congress, should be the decisionmaker when it comes to endangered and threatened species. Please urge your representative to stand up for wolves, the Endangered Species Act, and the rule of law by opposing H.R. 6784.

This action is open to U.S. residents only.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

A Wild Salute

Atka_flag_logo_edit_smAs we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Saturday, November 10, 2018

One Wolf's Howl Ignites an Explosive Song

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 the pack is larger than it actually is.

Alawa is often the goofiest howler in her family. Sometimes she doesn’t even get up to sing with her siblings.

Her howl is guaranteed to make you smile in this video!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Washington Officials to Kill Three Protected Wolf Families to Protect Cows

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Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officials have ordered the killing of the last two remaining members of the Old Profanity Territory (OPT) family, the last three wolves of the Togo pack, and one or two wolves from the Smackout wolf family.

Why? To protect cows grazing on private and public lands.

Because the department is set to have three concurrent kill operations underway, Director Susewind has decided to issue the Togo Pack kill permit to the livestock owner “allowing him, his immediate family, or his employees to kill wolves if they are within his private fenced pasture where the livestock are located.”

Beyond being cruel and in violation of the desires of a majority of Americans, these kill orders are not working.

WDFW has been killing wolves to deter conflict since 2012 when the agency wiped out the entire Wedge pack, yet depredations on livestock continue.

WDFW knows that peer-reviewed research demonstrates that killing predators is not only an ineffective solution to deter depredation on cows, but it can even result in increased attacks on livestock by survivors.

Killing state-endangered wolves on to benefit the profit margins of a private business is wrong on every level.

Please contact WDFW Director Kelly Susewind before it’s too late and respectfully ask him to call off the kill order.

CALL 360-902-2200

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Conservation-Minded Child Names Critically Endangered Red Wolf

Maples have long signified strength and endurance, and now, thanks to Clare Dür, the autumnal tree will now share its name with a critically endangered red wolf pup. Clare, an elementary school student from New York, suggested the name “Maple” for red wolf pup m2234 because “every maple leaf is different and special just like red wolves.” Red wolves are some of the most endangered mammals in the world, with less than 24 remaining in the wild. And just like people, every red wolf is special and deserving of his or her own identity.

Meet red wolf pup Maple!
Meet red wolf pup Maple!

In an effort to raise awareness for red wolves, the Wolf Conservation Center hosted a Red Wolf Pup Naming Contest and received over 100 entries! Interested children in grades K - 8 were encouraged to draw a picture of m2234, pick their desired nickname, and explain why they chose that name. With so many wonderful entries, it was incredibly challenging to decide on one winner, but it was incredibly exciting to see so many children eager to show their support for red wolves.

Clare will receive a sponsorship kit for Maple (m2234) will be able to watch Maple and his family via the WCC’s live webcam. Tune in now for a glimpse of Maple!

Go Vote and Stand for Wolves!


Monday, November 5, 2018

Federal Judge Bans USFWS from Capturing and Killing Red Wolves

A VICTORY for red wolves! Judge finds USFWS's rollback of red wolf protections is a violation of the Endangered Species Act and bans USFWS from capturing and killing, and authorizing private landowners to capture and kill wild red wolves!

“For four years now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been dismantling one of the most successful predator reintroductions in U.S. history,” said Sierra Weaver, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC).

“The service knows how to protect and recover the red wolf in the wild, but it stopped listening to its scientists and started listening to bureaucrats instead. The law doesn’t allow the agency to just walk away from species conservation, like it did here.”

The conservation groups involved in the litigation are the Red Wolf Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Animal Welfare Society, Inc. (AWI) represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center.


Sunday, November 4, 2018

When Wolves Get a Toy Snake

Today we gave the Ambassador wolves an "invincible" snake dog toy!

Of all the Ambassador wolves, Nikai is the one who really enjoys playing with toys. But he was too slow on his feet and his big brother Zephyr got to the snake first.

Apparently "indestructible" is not in Zephyr's vocabulary...

Eventually, patience pays off for Nikai, and after he marks what's left of the toy as his own, he doesn't have to worry about sharing anymore.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

To Be Happy Is To Howl!

Meet Nikai!

Beyond being beautiful, he's a powerful player in the fight to preserve wolves’ rightful place in the environment.

Learn about wolf behavior here

Thank you, Nikai, for opening minds, rewilding hearts, and raising awareness for the importance and plight of your wild kin.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Memories Matter - Preserving a Species Memories for Future Generations

Wildlife conservation isn’t just about raising the numbers on a population count. It’s also an act of cultural preservation.

When we prevent the killing of a wolf family, we’re not just saving lives, we're also saving the pack's memories and traditions.

If a family group 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.

Memories matter for other species too.

"Bighorn sheep and moose learn to migrate from one another. When they die, that generational know-how is not easily replaced," reported Ed Yong of The Atlantic.

Thus preserving a species memories of traditions may require preserving routes and corridors over which animals like bighorn sheep can travel.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Analysis: Public Overwhelmingly Opposes Feds’ Plan to Nearly Wipe Out Wild Red Wolves in North Carolina

For Immediate Release: November 1, 2018


Ron Sutherland, Wildlands Network, (919) 641-0060,
Maggie Howell, Wolf Conservation Center, (914) 763-2373,
Perrin de Jong, Center for Biological Diversity, (828) 595-1862,
Ben Prater, Defenders of Wildlife, (828) 412-0981,
Marjorie Fishman, Animal Welfare Institute, (202) 446-2128,

Analysis: Public Overwhelmingly Opposes Feds’ Plan to Nearly Wipe Out Wild Red Wolves in North Carolina

99.9 Percent of Submitted Comments Support Red Wolf Conservation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to remove protections from the nation’s only wild population of endangered red wolves has been met with near unanimous opposition from the public. Out of 108,124 comments submitted, 107,988 comments (99.9 percent) favored the need for strong federal protections for red wolves.

In June, the Service solicited public comments on its proposal for managing the red wolf, which has been reduced to a single wild population in eastern North Carolina consisting of as few as 30 individuals. The Service proposed to reduce the red wolf recovery area by more than 90 percent, with the revised recovery area only expected to provide sufficient space for 10 to 15 red wolves to safely roam. The proposal would eliminate protections for any red wolves that wander off Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and Dare County Bombing Range, effectively allowing anyone to kill red wolves on private lands, for any reason.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s shameful hostility toward red wolves has been met with the strongest possible condemnation by the citizens of this country,” said Perrin de Jong, staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity in Asheville, North Carolina. “The verdict is in, and citizens from across this country, this state and the red wolf recovery area want the feds to do more, not less, to protect and recover this critically endangered species.”

"Many of us have long wondered why Americans of previous generations didn't rise up to save the ivory-billed woodpecker, the passenger pigeon, or the Carolina parakeet,” said Dr. Ron Sutherland, conservation scientist for Wildlands Network. “Well, here we are in 2018, and the American people have spoken with a strong and virtually unanimous voice that the red wolf must be saved from extinction and kept in the wild where the species belongs. Will Congress and the Service listen?"

"Once again, the American public has expressed overwhelming support for the red wolf. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must heed this call, recommit to proven management strategies and work to prevent the extinction of the world's most endangered canine," said Ben Prater, Southeast Program Director for Defenders of Wildlife.

“Every voice raised in support of wildlife can make a difference, and Americans overwhelmingly support the Red Wolf Recovery Program,” said Maggie Howell, Executive Director of the Wolf Conservation Center. “We’re counting on the Service to take notice and follow the best available science to ensure that the world’s most endangered wolves remain a living, breathing part of the landscape in eastern North Carolina.”

“Wildlife, including red wolves, are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in trust for the American people,” noted DJ Schubert, Wildlife Biologist at the Animal Welfare Institute. “The people have now spoken loud and clear of their support for the protection and recovery of the red wolf in the wild and it is time the government starts to listen and comply with the public’s clear message.”

People living in the areas most directly affected by red wolves also expressed overwhelming support for their conservation. Out of 2,923 comments submitted by North Carolinians, 2,898 comments (99.1 percent) spoke out in favor of red wolf protection. From the current five-county recovery area in eastern North Carolina where the wolves live, 75 out of 95 comments submitted (78.9 percent) were also pro-wolf.

North Carolina’s governor also spoke out against the Service’s proposal and expressed support for red wolf recovery. “There is a viable path forward for North Carolina’s red wolves living in the wild, and I have directed relevant departments in my administration to work with USFWS to continue the recovery program and build upon its success to date,” said Governor Roy Cooper in a comment submitted to the Service on July 30.

Only 19 comments explicitly supported the agency’s plan to eliminate red wolf protections and shrink the recovery area. Thirty additional comments, with 13 of these coming from one real estate developer, expressed general opposition to red wolf recovery.

Volunteers from Wildlands Network, the Wolf Conservation Center, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Animal Welfare Institute reviewed each of the thousands of comments submitted to produce this analysis. The exercise was motivated by the need to provide the most accurate accounting of public sentiment as the Service regularly dismisses comments received on petitions or those compiled by conservation organizations. For example, in 2017 during the initial scoping period for the current proposal, the agency reported only receiving 12,000 comments when approximately 55,000 were submitted, ignoring the vast majority of comments received in support of red wolves.


Wildlands Network envisions a world where nature is unbroken, and where humans co-exist in harmony with the land and its wild inhabitants. Our mission is to reconnect, restore, and rewild North America so life in all its diversity can thrive.

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.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come.

The Animal Welfare Institute ( is a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild.

Additional Media Resources:
Journalists wishing to confirm these numbers should contact to receive copies of the comment files and analysis tables.
Wildlands Network has placed photos of wild and captive wolves in this Dropbox Folder.
Wildlands Network's videos of wild red wolves are available here.
The Wolf Conservation Center also has an extensive library of photos and videos of captive red wolves - contact Maggie Howell, (914) 763-2373,

After Killing Mom and Pup from Helicopter, Officials Still on the Hunt to Kill Entire Wolf Family

Officials from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) have yet to post an update re their efforts to kill the last remaining members of the Old Profanity Territory (OPT) wolf family.

WDFW issued the kill order for the father wolf and his 6-month-old pup on October 26, 2018,  a month after the agency's sharpshooters took to the air to shoot down the mother and a different pup.

Their crime? Preying on livestock that are grazing on public lands.

The agency is aware that peer-reviewed research demonstrates that killing predators is not only ineffective, but it can even result in increased attacks on livestock by survivors.

Killing wolves (state-endangered no less) to benefit the profit margins of a private business isn't "conservation".

Please contact WDFW Director Kelly Susewind and WA Governor Jay Inslee before it’s too late and respectfully ask them to call off the kill order.

WDFW: CALL 360-902-2200

Governor Inslee: CALL 360-902-4111

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween!


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Celebrate Wolves All Year Long!

celebrate wolves all year long_blog
What's better than a 12-month calendar featuring the beautiful wolves who call the Wolf Conservation Center home?

FOUR unique calendars featuring ambassador wolves Alawa, Nikai, Zephyr, or Atka on the cover! With different calendar month photos too, each calendar provides an incredible yearlong, up-close experience with your favorite ambassadors, Mexican gray wolves, and red wolves residing at the WCC.

So throw your walls to the wolves and purchase your calendars today!

All proceeds help support the WCC's work to protect and preserve wolf populations in North America.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

After Killing Mom, Pup from Helicopter, Officials Seek to Kill Entire Wolf Family

WDFW killed the mother and pup last month. Today, the last surviving pack members are in the crosshairs, the father and pup.

On Friday, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced its plans to kill the last remaining two wolves from a wolf family that has repeatedly preyed on cattle.

So, as you read this, WDFW sharpshooters are taking to the sky to find and kill the last surviving members of the Old Profanity Territory (OPT) wolf family.

The young family, originally consisting of a breeding pair and their pups, was dealt a devastating blow in September when the mother and one pup were killed in an attempt to stop the family from attacking livestock. The father and remaining pup will now be killed as well.

Does this sound familiar? It should.

One of the oldest and most primitive responses to conflict with livestock is to kill the predators, even if they are already rare and or threatened with extinction. This is not the first time WDFW has resorted to killing wolves on this on this particular grazing allotment.

The OPT wolves reside on land that was once home to the Profanity Peak pack, a wolf family that was obliterated by WDFW officials in 2016 in an effort to stop depredation on livestock in these same rugged mountains.

When will WDFW recognize that killing isn’t the solution?

The agency knows that peer-reviewed research shows that killing predators is not only ineffective, but it can even result in increased attacks on livestock by survivors.

Killing wolves (state endangered wolves no less) on America's public lands to benefit the profit margins of a private business is wrong.

The benefits that predators and functioning ecosystems provide to humans are of enormous value. Instead of killing wolves, we would be wise to work hard to preserve them.

Please contact WDFW Director Kelly Susewind before it's too late and respectfully ask him to call off the kill order.

CALL 360-902-2200

Friday, October 26, 2018

Endangered Mexican Wolf Pups Named for Female Conservationists!

From left: Craighead, Hélène, and Diane
In May 2018, Mexican gray wolf F1143 (Rosa) made a crucial contribution to the survival of her rare species when she quietly gave birth to a litter of nine pups. Over the last few months, we’ve watched these pups blossom into curious, spunky individuals, each with their own unique personality and appearance. We’ve witnessed the tenacity of the “tiny twosome,” were privy to some seriously cute cuddle piles on their den, and heard their high-pitched howls!

What better way to honor their fierce personalities than with equally fierce names? Meet Craighead, Mittermeier, Lek, Carson, Goodall, Beattie, Diane, Hélène, and Bria! Each little lobo has been “named” in honor of a female conservationist who works tirelessly to protect and preserve wildlife.

f1753 (Hélène) – The WCC was founded by Hélène Grimaud, a classical pianist and dedicated wolf advocate. Through her continued work with the WCC, Hélène has influenced generations of individuals and has helped people realize that rather than fearing wolves, we should work to learn about and protect them.

m1746 (Craighead) – There is perhaps no more well-known conservation author than Jean Craighead George. Author of over 100 books about endangered species and wildlife, Craighead George made children of all ages (and adults too!) fall in love with nature through her vivid depictions of alligators, bears, and wolves (among others).

m1747 (Mittermeier) – Conservation can be performed in many ways but one of the most captivating is through digital storytelling. National Geographic photographer and Sea Legacy co-founder Cristina Mittermeier has amassed hundreds of thousands of followers through her work depicting endangered species and indigenous peoples around the world. By putting a face to these imperiled animals, Mittermeier is able to inspire and motivate action in her followers.

m1748 (Lek) – Lek Chailert is the founder of the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand, a sanctuary for elephants. The organization advocates for the humane treatment of elephants and is recognized as an international voice in animal welfare. Chailert was recognized in 2010 as one of six Women Heroes of Global Conservation and was named one of Time Magazine’s Heroes of Asia for her dedication to elephant welfare.

m1749 (Carson) – Many of today’s environmentalists and conservationists were inspired to join the environmental movement because of books such as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Carson’s career as a scientist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service allowed her expose countless individuals to the world of science and environmental preservation.

m1750 (Goodall) – For many, the first name that comes to mind when presented with the word “conservationist” is Jane Goodall. Dr. Goodall revolutionized the animal behavior world with her intensive studies of chimpanzees, including her discovery that chimpanzees make and use tools. She’s expanded her impact into various conservation initiatives, including founding the Jane Goodall Institute and Roots & Shoots, a program designed to foster a new generation of conservation leaders.

mM1751 (Beattie) – Mollie Beattie was the first female Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and strived to conserve endangered species by managing landscapes and ecosystems. Under her supervision, gray wolves were reintroduced into the northern Rocky Mountains and 15 national wildlife refuges were added. According to Beattie, “what a country chooses to save is what a country chooses to say about itself.”

f1752 (Diane) – “Though she be but little she is fierce.” ~William Shakespeare

F1752 is one of the most recognizable pups in her litter, due to her petite stature and extra-large personality, and her namesake shares her most distinguishing qualities. Diane Bentivegna is a former public school educator with over 30 years of experience but she’s certainly left her mark on the conservation world as well. As an advisor to the WCC, Diane has dedicated her life to preserving our nation’s wildlife for future generations.

f1753 (Bria) – Conservationists come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. Our youngest honoree is only 12 years old but, through the sale of her endangered species artwork, Bria Shay Neff (Faces of the Endangered) has raised over $34,000 for various conservation organizations. Neff has painted over 250 endangered species and landscapes, with each work highlighting the devastating impact of habitat loss, deforestation, global warming, poaching and human conflict on wildlife populations.

Show your support for conservation by sponsoring one of these pups! They certainly have big “paws” to fill!