Sunday, March 31, 2019

Trail Cam Reveals Wolf Conservation Center's Other Wild Residents


Although the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) is only an hour away from New York City, there's actually more native wildlife around than a person might expect. From owls and eagles to eastern coyotes and bobcats - New York’s Westchester County is pretty wild!


Here are some of the critters that our trail-cam captured in the month of March alone!


The Wolf Conservation Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit 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.


In an effort to increase our local impact, the WCC is committed to educating the local community on the wildlife with whom we share our landscape. This initiative includes providing off-site programs for schools, nature centers, libraries, and more to discuss the importance of our native flora and fauna.


If you have questions regarding coexistence with wildlife local to the New York tristate area, or if you would like to find out more about our off-site programs pertaining to local wildlife, please contact our Wildlife Outreach Specialist Dana Goin at 914-763-2373.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Scientific Report Finds Red Wolf and Mexican Gray Wolf as Taxonomically Valid


Is the red wolf a distinct species or, as critics in North Carolina have long contended, a hybrid unworthy of Endangered Species Act protection? What about the Mexican gray wolf - is the lobo a "real" subspecies?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recognizes both as valid and lists each as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Although politicians should leave decisions about whether a species is deserving of protection to scientists and experts at wildlife agencies – these questions were posed by some members of Congress seeking to remove federal ESA protections the rare and at-risk wolves.

In a provision tucked away in the 2018 must-pass budget bill last March, Congress ordered the USFWS to get an independent analysis of whether red wolves and Mexican gray wolves are a taxonomically valid species and subspecies, respectively.

Over the past year, an expert panel appointed by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS), Engineering, and Medicine has been conducting an analysis of scientific literature to answer the following two questions:
  1. Is the Red wolf a taxonomically valid species?
  2. Is the Mexican gray wolf a taxonomically valid subspecies?

In its new report released today, Evaluating the Taxonomic Status of the Mexican Gray Wolf and the Red Wolf, NAS confirms that both red wolves and Mexican gray wolves are indeed valid.

“A majority of experts on red wolf taxonomy have concluded, time and time again, that the red wolf represents a unique lineage that is worthy of conservation and should remain a listable entity under the ESA,” stated Maggie Howell, Wolf Conservation Center Executive Director. “No longer plagued by questions of taxonomy, USFWS needs to re-evaluate its recent decisions and management changes and bring its efforts back in line with the conservation mandate of the ESA. Today’s findings give USFWS no excuse to further delay its recommitment to recovering the red wolf within the current five-county Red Wolf Recovery Area in North Carolina.”

The red wolf and Mexican gray wolf are among the most endangered mammals in North America. Both species at one time were extinct in the wild.

Red Wolf Background

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

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.

Federal Court Finds USFWS in 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, on November 5, 2018, a federal court ruled 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.

USFWS has been silent re red wolf recovery since November 2018. Only 24 wild red wolves are known to remain in the wild.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Howls of Thanks!



You did it! 

Yesterday we invited you to be a part of our one-day LoboWeek fundraiser and you heard our howls! Hundreds of supporters helped the WCC raise close to $27,000, exceeding our goal of $20,000! 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!

Video: Critically endangered Mexican gray wolf Diego (M1059)

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Tiny wolf. Big personality. GIANT raffle prizes!

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It's LoboWeek! This week marks the 21st anniversary of the Mexican gray wolf's (“Lobo”) return to the wild! Missing from the landscape for more than 30 years, the howl of the rarest and most unique subspecies of gray wolf was once again greeted by the mountains of the southwest.

This LoboWeek, we're inviting you to celebrate Lobos by featuring the teeny tiniest wolf we've ever known - Craighead the Mexican gray wolf!

In order to further the Wolf Conservation Center's mission of raising awareness for wolves, we're offering a FREE RAFFLE of Craighead-themed items to help you integrate wolves into your daily life. The drawing will be held on Saturday, March 30, 2019, and the winner will be contacted via email. One lucky winner will receive:
  • 11x14 inch Craighead canvas photo
  • 5x5 inch framed Craighead paw print
  • Mexican gray wolf stuffed toy
  • Jean Craighead George book bundle
  • "Got wolves?" bumper sticker
Enter the raffle now!

LoboWeek - Celebrating the Mexican Gray Wolf's Wild Milestone

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This week marks the 21st anniversary of the Mexican gray wolf's (“Lobo”) return to the wild! Missing from the landscape for more than 30 years, the howl of the rarest and most unique subspecies of gray wolf was once again greeted by the mountains of the southwest.

Celebrate this exciting milestone for Lobos and wildlife conservation by joining the #LoboWeek movement (March 24 – 30)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Feds Urged to Free Two Endangered Wolves Trapped in New Mexico

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Feds Urged to Free Two Endangered Wolves Trapped in New Mexico

SILVER CITY, N.M.— Thirty-seven organizations today sent a letter urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to free two endangered wolves trapped in New Mexico and halt additional trapping.

Federal trappers recently removed two Mexican gray wolves from the wild and set traps for a third wolf for preying on cattle in the Gila National Forest. Because the removals undermine wolf recovery, today’s letter urges the Service to cancel the removal order and promptly release the captured wolves.

“Wolves can’t be recovered with traps and bullets,” said Michael Robinson, senior conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Mexican wolves are closer to extinction than the government admits. Removing wolves to placate the livestock industry is the last thing we should be doing to this profoundly endangered population.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service has refused to release its removal order to the public. But the agency has acknowledged that the order authorizes the killing of a wolf or multiple wolves.

“Given the excessive losses to the wolf population in the last year from unlawful killing, traps and other unknown causes, it's crucial that this wolf's life be spared,” said Mary Katherine Ray, wildlife chair for the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club. “A kill order is contrary to the goal of the recovery of this highly imperiled species.”

The Mexican wolf is one of the most endangered mammals in North America, with two reintroduced populations in Mexico and the U.S. Southwest, and roughly 300 captive wolves.

Federal trapping and shooting on behalf of the livestock industry has kept the population low since reintroduction began in Arizona and New Mexico in 1998. In 2017, 114 wolves were counted in the wild. The Fish and Wildlife Service will soon release 2018 numbers. In Mexico, approximately 35 wolves stem from a reintroduction program begun in 2011.

“Any loss to the wild population is a step backward for Mexican wolf recovery,” stated Maggie Howell, director of the Wolf Conservation Center. “The Fish and Wildlife Service should be releasing captive wolves into the wild as recommended by scientists, not taking critically endangered lobos out.”

“This area is good habitat for wolves, but clearly not such a great place for livestock,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project. “Real conflict reduction would mean permanently closing the allotment and allowing wildlife to be wild on our public lands.”

The letter from conservation groups points out the inequity in the Service ignoring the advice of scientists and allowing wolves to scavenge on livestock carcasses, and then scapegoating wolves when they begin to prey on cattle near where they scavenged.

It is not known if those circumstances precipitated the present conflicts. But in the past, Rainy Mesa has seen repeated incidents of cattle dying from non-wolf causes and then being scavenged by wolves. Wolves then began preying on livestock and suffered the consequences.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Idaho Kills Seven Wolves to Boost Elk Numbers for Human Hunters

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Idaho killed seven wolves via its "Wolf Control Program" in the remote and rugged areas of the Clearwater National Forest. The state wants to kill wolves to boost the elk population for human hunters in the Lolo Elk Management Zone.

Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) prefers to manage wolf populations using hunters and trappers and only authorizes its "control actions" where regulated killing has been insufficient to meet "management" goals. The Lolo zone is steep, rugged country that is difficult to access, especially in winter. To date, hunters and trappers have reported 18 wolves killed in the Lolo zone during the 2018-19 season.

IDFG just killed seven more.
"Fish and Game stepped up predation management in the Lolo area through increased harvest opportunities of black bears and mountain lions. Restoring the Lolo elk population will require continued harvest of black bears, mountain lions, and wolves along with wolf control actions when needed and meaningful large-scale habitat improvements."
History tells us, however, that the Lolo elk population dropped to historically low levels before wolves were restored to the region. So in an effort to boost elk numbers for human hunters, Idaho is scapegoating wolves and ignoring the many factors that affect elk population including human activities, weather, disease, and wildfire.

Do you think this killing campaign is an appropriate use of taxpayer resources?

Lawsuit Filed to End Artificial Feeding At National Elk Refuge

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A coalition of environmental groups yesterday sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) seeking to halt the practice of artificially feeding nearly 10,000 elk at the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Although the refuge is supposed to sustain healthy populations of native wildlife, the artificial winter-time elk feeding program creates crowded conditions, with consequences that are both extensive and dangerous.

The feeding grounds are hotbeds for disease transmission, including Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a degenerative neurological illness that is similar to mad cow disease. The disease spreads rapidly among ungulate populations and poses serious disease risks to the very elk populations they aim to support and other wildlife too.

As of this year, CWD has been detected in animals in 26 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just in November, the first case in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park was confirmed in a mule deer. There is no known vaccine.

Beyond shutting down the federal and 22 state-managed feedgrounds, perhaps Wyoming should allow native predators to limit the disease. Wolves are well suited to cut the disease out of the deer, elk, and moose herds because they naturally focus on culling the weak and the sick from the herd.

Instead of recognizing the value that wolves provide, Wyoming last year doubled down on its hostile and extreme anti-wolf policies and upped its wolf kill quota for the state's "Trophy Zone" to 58 wolves, a 32 percent increase over last year’s quota of 44.

In the other 85 percent of the state, Wyoming classifies wolves as shoot-on-sight vermin; wolves and pups can be killed any time, by almost any means, and without a license.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Emergency Action to Save America's Gray Wolves

Oppose_delisting_edit_blog_On March 15, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) officially proposed removing federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves across the entire lower 48 states, a plan that would put the future of the gray wolf and its proven benefits to ecosystems at serious risk.

The proposed rule removes federal Endangered Species Act protections for all gray wolves in the contiguous United States except for the population of critically endangered Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico, where only about 114 remain.
TAKE ACTION: Tell the USFWS to keep wolves protected!

The most effective way to show opposition to USFWS's delisting proposal is to write personalized comments on the proposed rule in the Federal Register.

Open the suggested talking points here to guide your words.
  1. Use the link above to open optional talking points above to guide your words
  2. Go to the proposed rule on Federal Register here.
  3. Once on the Federal Register, select the “Comment Now!” button.
  4. Type your comment into the box.
The 60-day public comment period remains open through May 14, 2019.

Both Dogs and Wolves Cooperate with Humans

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A recent study conducted by behavioral researchers in Austria shows that dogs and wolves both work equally well with humans, albeit in different ways.

The study tested the extent to which dogs and grey wolves collaborate with humans in order to solve certain tasks. Findings show that both dogs and wolves cooperate intensively with humans and are equally successful, although the animals attain their goals in different ways. In their cooperation with human partners, dogs followed the behavior of the humans while wolves led the interaction: they were more independent.

Based on the results of the study, the researchers proposed that dogs were selected for breeding because of their higher submissive tendencies, which helped minimize conflicts over resources and ensured the safe coexistence and cooperation in which humans lead and dogs follow.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

St Patrick's Day Kiss?

kISS_ME_ARCTIC_logo_smArctic pride!?
Wild Arctic gray wolves (Canis lupus arctos) live primarily in the Arctic, the region located above 67° north latitude. The land is covered with snow and ice for most of the year, except for a brief period during the summer. Arctic wolves have adapted well to this icy environment. Atka, like his wild counterparts, had white fur, which allowed him to blend into snowy surroundings. To help reduce heat loss, his ears were rounded, he had a shorter muzzle and shorter legs than other gray wolf subspecies. He also had hair between the pads of his feet and long, thick fur to keep him warm in temperatures that were as low as minus 70° Fahrenheit.

About Atka

Atka lived to be the oldest ambassador wolf at the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC), passing away peacefully in September 2018 at 16 years old. He arrived at the WCC from Minnesota when he was just 8 days old.

The confident and charismatic ambassador won the hearts and opened the minds of hundreds of thousands of people throughout his storied career.

Atka wasn’t just a luminary in the world of conservation, he was a superstar! Thank you, Atka, for allowing the world to form lasting connections with not only you but your wild kin as well. We will always remember and honor your wild legacy.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Peace.


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Department of the Interior Announces Gray Wolf Delisting Plan

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Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) formally announced its plan to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the lower 48 states.

Wolves once ranged across most of North America, a vital part of many varied ecosystems. But an unremitting slaughter by humans brought wolves to the brink of extinction.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA), signed into law in 1973, gave us a second chance to right this wrong.

But just as wolves are beginning to reclaim territory, USFWS is pushing a plan to remove federal protections from nearly all gray wolves in the contiguous United States—a move that, if implemented, will threaten fragile populations still trying to make a comeback on the American landscape.

Without federal protection, 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.

While USFWS delisting proposal is not likely to spell extinction for wolves throughout the Lower 48, losing federal ESA protections will have deadly implications for wolves.

History tells us that under the states’ authority to manage wolf populations, wolves die at the hands of trophy hunters. Starting in 2011, wolf management, at one time or another, returned to the states of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. All but one of these states opened a hunting season on wolves within the first year of having management authority. Although Michigan refrained from immediately opening a season on wolves, state representatives unabashedly altered the right of referendum for Michigan voters to allow its inaugural trophy season to begin the following year.

Nearly two thousand wolves were killed in 2011-2013 alone, and thousands more since in states where protections were temporarily or permanently lifted.

This isn't the first attempt by USFWS to strip gray wolves of federal protection. The Interior Department had also proposed removing the gray wolf’s endangered status in 2013, but the effort was unsuccessful. In the federal mandated Independent Peer Review of the 2013 delisting rule, the five-member panel of scientists agreed unanimously that USFWS's proposal was scientifically unsound.

USFWS proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow on March 15, opening a 60-day public comment period.

Please visit www.nywolf.org for information and opportunities to take action.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Howling Dialects of Wolves



Did you know that wolves across the world speak in 21 different dialects, with differences depending both on species and location?

The largest-ever study of howling in the 'canid' family of species – which includes wolves, jackals, and domestic dogs – has shown that the various species and subspecies have distinguishing repertoires of howling, or "vocal fingerprints".

The characteristic howls of red wolves, like Jack (M1606) featured in this video, usually include a series of barks, yips, and sometimes growling, especially when voiced in alarm. The red wolf’s howl sounds somewhat similar to a coyote’s, but is often lower pitched and lasts longer.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Feds Seek to Strip Federal ESA Protection for Gray Wolves Nationwide

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The ESA let our country give wolves a second chance. With second chances so hard to come by, should we be willing to throw them away?

Today, Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will soon propose a rule to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the lower 48 states.

Wolves once ranged across most of North America, a vital part of many varied ecosystems. But an unremitting slaughter by humans brought wolves to the brink of extinction. 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 Endangered Species Act, signed into law in 1973, gave us a second chance to right this wrong.

With ESA protections and the support of the American public, the gray wolf was able to return to limited portions of its native range. In areas where wolves began to recover, like the northern Rocky Mountain states and western Great Lakes states, scientists have noted more diverse plant and wildlife thriving where they had been suppressed for decades.

By stripping federal protections from nearly all gray 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.

Losing federal ESA protections would also have deadly implications for wolves: in just the last few years, thousands of wolves have been shot or trapped in states where protections were temporarily or permanently lifted.

This isn't the first attempt by USFWS to strip gray wolves of federal protection. The Obama administration had also proposed removing the wolves’ endangered status in 2013, but the effort was unsuccessful. In the Independent Peer Review of the 2013 delisting rule, the five-member panel of scientists agreed unanimously that USFWS's proposal was based on insufficient science.

USFWS intends to publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register in the coming days, opening a public comment period on the proposal. This proposal will exclude Mexican gray wolves, which would remain a listed subspecies under the ESA.

Monday, March 4, 2019

NPS Releases Four More Wolves on Michigan’s Isle Royale

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Before the National Park Service began its wolf relocation project last fall, the last two wolves to call Isle Royale home were at risk of vanishing from the island altogether, along with the island’s ongoing wolf-moose study that began nearly 60 years ago.

The wolf relocation project is a part of a planned "genetic rescue" of Isle Royale’s dwindling wolf population. Scientists working on the island’s wolf-moose study had been advocating for relocating wolves to the island for years. They believe that a genetic rescue is the only option for keeping the species going and allow the unique ecological study to continue.

The wolf relocation project’s goal is to provide much-needed genetic diversity for the island's wolves. Additional wolves will help restore the predator-prey balance on the island between wolves and moose.

Translocating wolves, however, is easier said than successfully achieved. Two wolves died last fall since their initial capture on the mainland. A female died upon capture before making it to the island, and a male was found dead on the island just weeks after his release there. Another female left the island during the coldest days of the season via an ice bridge that formed between island and Canada.

Members of the wolf relocation project hope the newest relocated wolves, three males and a female released last week, will fare better in their new home. Only time will tell. In the meantime, follow Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale for updates.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Webcam Footage Answers Age-old Question, "Where Do Wolf Pups Come From?"



It’s an exciting time for wolves — it’s the season of romance. Hormones are racing, and earlier this week red wolves Charlotte (F2121) and Jack (M1606) engaged in a copulatory tie - three times!

The gestation period (length of pregnancy) is 63 days. So, for now, keep your paws crossed that Charlotte and Jack will be welcoming priceless (and adorable) contributions to the recovery of their rare species later this spring.

Background

The Wolf Conservation Center is one of a network of facilities participating in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan - a national initiative whose primary purpose is to support the reestablishment of red wolves in the wild through captive breeding, public education, and research.

The Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) management group 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 fourteen founders rescued from extinction. Genetic diversity is the primary consideration in the selection of red wolf breeding pairs and Charlotte and Jack are a great match on paper with an extremely low inbreeding coefficient.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Role of Reproductive Management in Mexican Wolf Recovery

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In an effort to offer insight into the complex and critically important world of Mexican gray wolf reproductive management, the Wolf Conservation Center is extending a FREE webinar on March 27 -The Role of Reproductive Management in Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery - with Cheryl Asa, Ph.D.!

All Mexican gray wolves alive today derive from just seven individuals rescued from extinction. In 1990 the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Mexican Wolf Recovery Program asked the Saint Louis Zoo’s Research Department to establish and maintain a semen bank for the species, to preserve genetic material in the form of frozen semen. Following technology advances in the mid-2000s, genes from females in the form of frozen eggs and ovarian tissue have been added. In the past 30 years, samples have been frozen from 165 males and 51 females, with the cooperation of 28 zoos around the U.S., including the (WCC). The program has included adaptations of methods, developed in domestic dogs, for inducing timed ovulation and artificial insemination (AI), so frozen semen can be put to use.

The WCC has been key, in particular, in the development of these protocols for females. In contrast to enhancing fertility through techniques like AI, breeding programs also need contraception to limit the number of pups born each year and to prevent inbreeding. A successful breeding program that manages which wolves breed each year is key to Mexican wolf recovery.

Tune in to the FREE webinar March 27, at 6 pm EST.

Register here.