Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Wolf Conservation Center Going to Court for Endangered Mexican Wolves

Lawsuit Challenges Trump Administration’s Fatally Flawed Mexican Wolf Plan

Plan Ignores Science, Fails on Urgently Needed Recovery Actions

TUCSON, Az. – A coalition of wolf advocates, including the Wolf Conservation Center, today filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s deeply flawed recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf, one of North America’s most endangered mammals.

The lawsuit challenges the plan because it disregards the best available science in setting inadequate population goals, cuts off wolf access to vital recovery habitat, and fails to respond to mounting genetic threats to the species.

“Mexican wolves urgently need more room to roam, protection from killing, and more releases of wolves into the wild to improve genetic diversity, but the Mexican wolf recovery plan provides none of these things,” said Earthjustice attorney Elizabeth Forsyth, who is representing the wolf advocates. “The wolves will face an ongoing threat to their survival unless major changes are made.”

The Trump administration issued the long-awaited recovery plan in November 2017. The plan ignored comments submitted by tens of thousands of people—including leading wolf scientists—who challenged the quality of the science used and asked for stronger protections and more aggressive recovery efforts. The best available science indicates Mexican wolf recovery requires at least three connected populations totaling approximately 750 individuals; a carefully managed reintroduction effort that prioritizes improving the genetic health of the animals; and establishment of at least two additional population centers in the southern Rockies and the Grand Canyon region.

The new plan disregarded that scientific evidence by failing to consider additional recovery areas in the United States. Instead, it shifts much of the proposed recovery effort to Mexico, where adequate wolf habitat is not available. The plan also calls for inadequate wolf numbers and fails to provide a sufficient reintroduction program to address genetic threats.

“Mexican wolves are vital to restoring natural balance in the Southwest, but they need a strong, science-based recovery plan to address urgent threats,” said Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re gravely concerned that Trump’s plan would cut wolves off from habitats in the Grand Canyon and southern Rockies and remove protections while they’re still imperiled.”

“The final recovery plan leaves too much to chance and will likely result in relisting the Mexican wolf again sometime in the future,” said Bryan Bird, Southwest director for Defenders of Wildlife. “This is a political plan, not a recovery plan that meets the standards of the Endangered Species Act.”

“This is a national issue. Mexican wolves help keep the American landscape intact and healthy. Our hope is that this legal challenge can help Fish and Wildlife Service create the best plan possible, based on sound science, to help save this critically endangered wolf,” said Virginia Busch, Executive Director of the Endangered Wolf Center near St. Louis, Mo.

“It is deeply disappointing to have waited 35 years for a new plan that is fatally flawed in so many ways. The content of the plan was dictated primarily by state wildlife agencies known to be antithetical to meaningful recovery of Mexican wolves. High-value habitats suitable for wolf recovery in the United States have been excluded from consideration. And reliance on a foreign country, where the U.S. government has no authority, to achieve full recovery is fraught with risk for the long-term survival of our southwestern lobos,” said David Parsons, former Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“The Service is granting the very state agencies that have gone to extraordinary lengths to obstruct recovery too much authority over the time, location, and circumstances of wolf releases,” said Maggie Howell of the Wolf Conservation Center. “Too many opportunities, and quite frankly genetically irreplaceable wolves, have already been wasted under the states’ mismanagement — critically endangered lobos deserve better.”

The critically endangered Mexican gray wolf almost vanished from the face of the earth in the mid-20th century because of human persecution. The entire population of Mexican wolves alive today descends from just seven individuals that were captured and placed into a captive breeding program before the species was exterminated from the wild.

As the result of a reintroduction program, today there is a single population of approximately 113 Mexican wolves existing in the wild in the United States, located in the Blue Range area of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. However, the reintroduced population suffers from high mortality due to illegal killing and compromised genetics because of its brush with extinction.

In 2014, Earthjustice—on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, retired Fish and Wildlife Service Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator David R. Parsons, the Endangered Wolf Center and the Wolf Conservation Center—filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to develop a recovery plan. A settlement of that lawsuit led to issuance of the Mexican wolf recovery plan that the same plaintiffs are now challenging. The plaintiffs are asking a federal judge to order the government to develop a Mexican wolf recovery plan that legitimately responds to recovery needs for the species as the law requires.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Wolves do not kill for sport. That is a fact.


Wolves have been demonized and misunderstood for much of human history. Because wolves are highly politicized animals, common misconceptions about wolves can cause real harm. Helping to correct misinformation is an effective way to help wolves.

MYTH: Wolves kill for sport. Doug Smith, National Park Service's (NPS) director of the Yellowstone Wolf Recovery Project, leads efforts to monitor wolves in Yellowstone and has been with the program since wolf reintroduction in the mid-1990s. In a Q&A series posted by the NPS, Smith explains the truth about wolf surplus killing. It's about survival, not sport.


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Arctic wolf Atka asks, "Where did my snow go?"

Born in 2002, Atka is the oldest ambassador wolf at the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC). He is one of the four 'ambassador wolves' at the WCC that help teach the public about wolves and their vital role in the environment.

The confident and charismatic ambassador has won the hearts and opened the minds of hundreds of thousands of people throughout his storied career. As an important player in the fight to preserve wolves’ rightful place in the environment, Atka’s credentials are beyond dispute. Because Atka retired from his career as a traveling Ambassador in 2016, he interacts with fewer people than he used to and we realized he missed communicating with his fans. So, after the long, requisite talk about safety, etiquette, and responsibility, for his 15th birthday in May 2017, WCC staff gave Atka his very own email account at atka@nywolf.org!

Atka isn’t just a luminary in the world of conservation, he's a superstar! Thank you, Atka, for allowing the world to form lasting connections with not only you but your wild kin as well!

Friday, January 26, 2018

76 Wolves Killed in Wyoming in 2017

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Seventy-six killed wolves. That is what state "management" of wolves looks like in Wyoming.

Seventy-six wolves were killed for trophy in Wyoming since losing federally protected status in spring of 2017.

Within Wyoming's managed “Trophy Zone” 44 wolves have been killed since October 2017. In Wyoming's "Predator Zone," which encompasses the remaining ~85% of the state, wolves and pups can be killed any time, by almost any means, and without a license.


It's the 21st century. Is this what wildlife "management" should look like in our time?

Simply eradicating a species not only ignores the ecological (and monetary) worth of these animals, it also abdicates our role as stewards of the landscape.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Saving Endangered Wolves Via Artificial Insemination

Mexican wolf F1226 (Belle) with pups born in 2016
The Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for two critically endangered wolf species, the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) and the red wolf (Canis rufus). The Mexican gray wolf and the red wolf are among the rarest mammals in North America; both species were at one time extinct in the wild.

An SSP is a breeding and management program designed to ensure the long-term sustainability of captive-based animal populations. The primary goal for the Mexican gray wolf SSP and red wolf SSP is to breed wolves for maximum genetic integrity for reintroduction into the wild.

Because the entire existing population of Mexican gray wolves is derived from just 7 individuals saved from extinction, genetic health is the primary consideration governing decisions re reproductive pairings and captive-to-wild release events. It is also the reason that the SSP programs for both wolf species pursue extraordinary conservation measures to save these species including semen collection, gamete cryopreservation, and artificial insemination (AI).

Not every genetically valuable wolf in the SSP program has the chance to successfully breed, so WCC staff helps the wolves make an “investment” in the recovery of their rare species by collecting semen from the males during the prime breeding season in mid-winter. Most of the genetic material collected is for cryopreservation for future potential use, an important option when trying to maintain diversity with such species that were once extinct in the wild.
M1133_dad_pup_logo_blog -2Unbeknownst to Mexican wolves M1133 (Rhett), his valuable contributions are poised to benefit Mexican wolf recovery program (and enhance his pack) in the not-so-distant future by fathering pups this season via AI.

Mexican wolf Rhett was been wearing the badge of fatherhood since 2016 when he and his mate F1226 (Belle) welcomed their first litter. They added three more pups to their brood in 2017. This breeding season, they will again be given an opportunity to have pups, but breeding isn't a part of the equation. Because their yearlings are approaching sexual maturity themselves (they'll be turning two years old in May), the males need to be separated from the females to prevent spontaneous breeding from occurring. Inbreeding doesn't occur often in the wild but in captivity, the lobos have limited options so a family member can appear pretty appealing when hormones are racing. All of our enclosures have a dividing fence line through their interior so their pack will remain in their original territory, but males on one side and females on the other. It's kind of like a middle school dance!
So, we’re utilizing AI (with Rhett's frozen semen) for breeding as an alternative to permanently removing the yearlings from the family.
To best prepare for the insemination, last week WCC staff inserted an Ovuplant Belle. Ovuplant is a sustained release implant of a hormone called “deslorelin.” The hormone, used to induce estrus and ovulation in wolves, will allow staff to best predict when Belle is most receptive to fertilization.

WCC curator Rebecca Bose injected the Ovuplant pellet right under the skin into Belle's inner thigh. Staff will revisit the wolf in the coming days to confirm her status before next steps are taken.

If successful, the family will have a lot to be happy about - their reunion and a priceless contribution to the recovery of their rare species! Plus, with 6 offspring already, mom and dad will have lots of help caring for their newborn kiddos. Afterall... When it comes to wolves, it's all about family!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Wild Red Wolves Captured on Film in North Carolina

With only 28 know red wolves remaining in the wild, these two beauties could be the last you see.

The red wolf is an American icon that makes our country’s wild lands whole and healthy. It’s one of the few large carnivore species endemic to the United States. Their importance to a balanced and resilient ecosystem is undeniable. And red wolf recovery should be a matter of pride and priority for our nation. Hunting, trapping, and poisoning caused the initial extinction of red wolves in the wild. Today the world's most endangered wolf is facing extinction for a second time, but at the hands of our government.

For a while, thanks to sustained federal leadership, the red wolf recovery effort was making steady progress. The wild population peaked at an estimated 130 wolves in 2006 and remained above 100 for several years.

But in 2014, USFWS halted all key management activity and the wild red wolf population plummeted to its lowest level in decades.

On September 12, 2016, USFWS published its long-awaited Red Wolf Program Review. The agency proposes a new rule that significantly changes the size, scope and management of the current red wolf recovery program. The rule includes USFWS’s plan to pull 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.

USFWS's misinterpretation of science represents the most recent blow the agency has delivered to the world’s most endangered wolf species.

Due to the Service’s neglect and inaction over the past few years, red wolves are facing extinction with only 28 known remaining in the wild.

Adding insult to injury, a in a November 20, 2017 Senate report (Page 17), some senators direct USFWS to "... end the Red Wolf recovery program and declare the Red Wolf extinct."

USFWS, the very agency charged by federal law with protecting endangered species, needs to recommit to red wolf recovery in the wild. Urge your Senators to give red wolves a fighting chance!
Take Action HERE.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Surprise! Two Wolves Are Still Alive On Isle Royale.

Two wolves are still alive on Michigan's remote Isle Royale!

The news that the island in Lake Superior remains home to two wolves comes despite speculation by some media last year that the once-strong wolf population had dwindled to a single wolf.

But a strong wolf pack is needed to keep Isle Royale's growing moose population under control. With only two wolves left to feast on them, the moose are undergoing a population explosion that could endanger the wilderness area's fir trees and eventually cause many of the moose to starve.

The National Park Service is expected to make a decision by spring on whether or not to release 20 to 30 new wolves over a three-year period as a way to bolster the population on the remote Lake Superior island. Stay tuned by following Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale fo Facebook.

More via Michigan Live.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Rise of the She-Wolf

I am she-wolf, hear me howl!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Protect Our Natural Resources So Our Children Can Too

For too long, current adults have monopolized the legacy of nature over which we adults are only temporary caretakers. ~Dr. Adrian Treves

Wildlife and other natural resources are a public trust which means that every citizen has an interest and a voice in the management of natural resources. The public trust is a legal concept that implies that we all share equal, undivided interests in America's environmental resources; and has informed two centuries of U.S.A. Supreme Court decisions and environmental laws worldwide.

In an ongoing lawsuit, teenagers are suing the federal government for failing to regulate greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The youths argue for their constitutional right to a stable and predictable atmosphere. They rightfully argue that current adults are only temporary caretakers over our natural resources.

The U.S.A. is among many democratic governments that recognize a duty to conserve environmental resources, including wild animals, as a public trust for current and future citizens.

In fact, a new paper reveals that intergenerational rights to a healthy environment are protected by the constitutions of 75% of the world’s nations. Currently, these principles of sovereign public trust are often overlooked but, if enforced, they would offer sustainable protection for the biosphere.

Read the paper, "Intergenerational equity can help to prevent climate change and extinction" here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Thousands of supporters. Seven continents. One wolf.

Ambassador wolf Atka first created his email account in May 2017; WCC staff figured, as a mature and responsible wolf, he should have a strong media presence to further interact with advocates around the world. And interact he did! Atka received over 1,000 emails on his 15th birthday and has welcomed a steady stream of passionate emails since. He’s Skyped with a budding scientist in Mexico, chatted with conservationists in Europe… but something was missing. After months of sorting through fan mail from six continents, WCC staff realized what Atka lacked: an email from Antarctica.

Enter Steve Schellenberg, a wildlife photographer and guide who frequently journeys to Antarctica. After meeting Atka at a WCC program, Schellenberg realized he not only wanted to round out Atka’s email collection, he wanted to bring Atka along for his journey to the land of icebergs and leopard seals. What followed was a touching note written from a tent at Damoy Point in Dorian Bay, describing chattering Gentoo Penguins and the joy Atka would surely feel at being surrounded by these flightless birds. Realizing it might be challenging for Atka to imagine the landscape and local wildlife, Schellenberg included a photo of Atka’s proxy, a mini Atka stuffed animal, reveling in the icy environment!

Thanks for showing Atka the world, Steve!

Interested in continuing Atka’s travels? Bring your stuffed Atka on vacation and email a photo to Atka@nywolf.org. He’s a great companion!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Keep Howling

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ~Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

B.C. Govt. Seeks to Trap Unique Coastal Sea Wolves

During the Wolf Conservation Center's 2017 summer adventure in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest, WCC staff and supporters were treated to a wild melody from a coastal sea wolf.

British Columbia’s coastal wolves live a unique existence. Hunting and beach-combing on the fringe between rainforest and ocean, they swim between islands and eat whatever the sea serves up.

Today, these wolves need your help.

On January 10, 2018, in a misguided attempt to preserve deer populations, the B.C. government announced it's proposal to increase the wolf trapping season on Vancouver Island to 10 months out of the year.

The proposal states that they are basing the decision on anecdotal information and not on science or any reliable data.

Moreover, trapping is inhumane and inherently nonselective. They injure and kill countless nontarget animals annually, including endangered and threatened species, and even family pets.

Please help.

Submit comments to B.C.'s Fish and Wildlife Branch and oppose the NDP government's proposal to lengthen the wolf trapping season on Vancouver Island. Pacific Wild offers you helpful tools.


Saturday, January 13, 2018

His Howl Can Change The World...

Because it can change people.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Study Questions Efficacy of Killing Wolves to Protect Livestock

Results show lethal management may make things worse.

Lethal management of wolves following wolf attacks on livestock may have unintended consequences, a new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison suggests.

The study shows that government killing of wolves can increase the risk to nearby farms, providing further evidence for the ineffectiveness of the so-called “lethal control” policy approach.

The report also casts doubt on an earlier research paper, which government agencies often use to support the practice.

The research adds to a stack of recent scientific papers that question the often-used practice of killing predators to reduce the chances of attacks on cattle, sheep and other livestock. Wildlife managers across the West trap and kill wolves, cougars and coyotes and other predators, and lethal control has become more common for wolves in Oregon and Washington as their populations have grown. But many scientists contend there’s little good evidence for the effectiveness of those efforts.

More via PHYS.ORG

Monday, January 8, 2018

When Wolf Mama's "Me Time" Gets Interrupted by Needy Pups

Squeeze in and get cozy and fierce with critically endangered Mexican gray wolf Belle (F1226) and her daughters born May 2017.

Things got a bit testy in the den the other night. Is Belle being a cranky mama? Perhaps; raising 6 kiddos is hard work and requires a lot of patience. Beyond her potential irritability, however, Belle was fulfilling her parental obligations by setting some rules in the cozy den.

Wolves mainly use body language to convey the rules for the family. Wolf families usually consist of the breeding pair (mom and dad) and their offspring of varying ages. Sometimes unrelated wolves will join a family too. To maintain order, wolves will rely on their posture, tail position, facial expression and ear position to articulate their status and role within the family. Wolves will also use body language to communicate intentions or to initiate some fun.

The parents (sometimes referred to as the “alpha” pair) are the leaders of the pack, and they express their status with erect posture and tails carried high. The less dominant family members (usually the offspring in the family) exhibit their position through submissive behavior. With lowered tails and posture, less dominant wolves acknowledge their role and rank in the family hierarchy. Pawing, tail tucking, and muzzle-licking are among the submissive gestures expressed by less dominant wolves.

We hope you enjoyed spending time with these beautiful wolves!

Tune in to the Mexican Wolf Family webcam HERE.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

WCC's Endangered Wolves In the News Around the Globe

Thank you, Reuters, for featuring the Wolf Conservation Center's critically endangered red wolves and Mexican gray wolves in its coverage of the January blizzard that hit the U.S. East Coast.

You can check in on the WCC's 30 wolves via LIVE webcams HERE.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Winter is Welcome for Arctic Wolf Atka

How do wolves respond to sub-zero temperatures? They bask.

Wild Arctic gray wolves (Canis lupus arctos) live primarily in the Arctic, the region located above 67° north latitude. These fascinating creatures are designed by the pressures of nature and are well adapted to survive on the icy landscape.

Atka, like his wild counterparts, has two layers of fur: the long guard hairs that form the visible outer layer of the coat and the soft dense undercoat. The coarse guard hairs determine a wolf's appearance/color and work like a raincoat, protecting a wolf from rain, snow, and sleet. The insulating undercoat is usually gray in color and keeps the animal comfortable in cold temperatures.

Additional adaptations to reduce heat loss include the slightly shorter nose, ears, and legs than other gray wolf subspecies, and hair between the pads of his snowshoe-like feet. His fluffy tail can also keep this nose warm and cozy. Thanks to these special features, Arctic wolves can survive in temperatures as low as minus 70° Fahrenheit.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happiness is...

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Wolf Camp For Kids This Summer & Spring

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It may be cold outside, but it’s time to start thinking about summer camp!

Give the young animal lover in your family a chance to thrive among wolves all week long! The five-day program will include opportunities for your child to learn about nature and wildlife through woodland exploration, scavenger hunts, wilderness games, live animals, etc. Children will learn about various habitats, animal communication and behavior, food chains, and local wildlife.

Programs will run with a minimum of 4 children and a maximum of 12. All children who complete the program will get a special “Junior Wolf Biologist” certificate. Pre-registration is required.

Time: 9AM - 3PM
Fee: $350 per child for the week-long program (Monday - Friday)

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For kids entering grades 3 - 5 ​
Time: 9AM - 3PM
Fee: $300 per child for the 4-day program (Tuesday - Friday)
Information & registration HERE!

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year's Resolution

New Year's resolution? Growl less. Howl more. Unless growling is warranted...