What is that spot on Ambassador Wolf Atka’s tail? The violet gland or supracaudal gland is an important gland located on the upper surface of a wolf’s tail. It’s believed to be used for intra-species signalling, scent marking, and perhaps to mark the entrances of wolf dens. It also makes a wolf’s rump that much more interesting! Happy Rump Day!

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How quickly our the newest member of the Wolf Conservation Center’s Ambassador pack has grown! Remember when he looked like this?

Within a month of joining the WCC family the little beast huffed, puffed, and hiccuped his way into hearts of minds of a global audience. He almost “broke the internet!”

Nikai isn’t the only wolf growing like a weed. Wolves are mono-estrus, breeding only during the winter months. So it’s during the spring that wolf pups are born. Fall is a special time for packs in North America. Whether the wolves are living on the Arctic tundra or the mountain forests of the southwest, wolf families are out searching for prey as their pups prepare for their first winter season. So throw back your head and let out a long celebratory howl for this newest wild generation- have fun, be safe, and be free.

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Coalition to Sue Fish and Wildlife Service for Failure to Produce Mandatory Recovery Plan for Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf

In March of 1998, 11 captive-reared Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) were released to the wild for the first time in the Blue Range Recovery Area of Arizona and New Mexico. 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. An historic event and a significant milestone for the Mexican wolf, wildlife conservation, and the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (MWSSP) – the bi-national collaborative program that paved the way for the wolf’s return.

As a participant in the MWSSP, the Wolf Conservation Center has played a critical role over the past 12 years in preventing the extinction of the Mexican wolf through captive breeding and supporting the Blue Range reintroduction project by producing the wolves for reintroduction. It’s an honor to contribute to the recovery of the rare species, and we embrace our role as a conduit – connecting a global audience via science based education programming, webcams and social media to both the importance and plight of the Mexican wolf and the great efforts required to recover them. It’s due to our commitment that the WCC has chosen to join a coalition of organizations to challenge U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to produce and implement a recovery plan for the imperiled species.

Press release announcing the action.

Thank you for your continued support.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 10, 2014

Contact:

Maggie Howell, Wolf Conservation Center; Maggie@nywolf.org, (914) 763-2373
Virginia Busch, Endangered Wolf Center; vbusch@endangeredwolfcenter.org
David R. Parsons; ellobodave@comcast.net, (505) 908-0468
Timothy Preso, Earthjustice; (406) 586-9699
Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity; (575) 313-7017
Courtney Sexton, Defenders of Wildlife; csexton@defenders.org, (202) 772-0253

Coalition to Sue Fish and Wildlife Service for Failure to Produce Mandatory Recovery Plan for Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf

Federal agency still reliant on incomplete, deficient 1982 plan for the rare wolves

TUCSON, Ariz. – A coalition of conservation groups today put the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) on notice that they intend to bring a lawsuit to hold the agency accountable for failing to produce and implement a valid recovery plan for the imperiled Mexican gray wolf. With only 83 individuals and five breeding pairs in the wild, Mexican gray wolves remain at serious risk of extinction. Recovery planning and implementation, legally required under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), are necessary to ensure the lobos’ survival.

“The Service has not only failed to complete a recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf but has actively scuttled recovery planning efforts by expert biologists who called for essential measures to protect this rare species,” said Earthjustice attorney Timothy Preso, who is representing the groups. “We intend to break this bureaucratic log jam to make sure that Mexican gray wolves receive the protections they need to survive.”

Earthjustice is representing Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, retired Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator David R. Parsons, the Endangered Wolf Center and the Wolf Conservation Center.

The Service developed a document it labeled a “Recovery Plan” in 1982 – but the Service itself admits that this document was incomplete, intended for only short-term application, and “did not contain objective and measurable recovery criteria for delisting as required by [the Endangered Species Act].” Most importantly, the 32-year-old document did not provide the necessary science-based roadmap to move the Mexican gray wolf toward recovery.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service’s more than three-decade failure to develop a science-based recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf is a travesty,” said Michael Robinson, a longtime Mexican wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The absence of a recovery plan has hurt the Mexican wolf, leaving this unique subspecies perilously close to the brink and suffering from genetic inbreeding and consequent lower pup births and survival.”

A plan which included genetic analysis and called for three interconnected populations totaling at least 750 animals as criteria for delisting was finally drafted by a Service-appointed recovery team in 2011, but has never been finalized.

“The Service has abandoned its latest attempt to write a real recovery plan,” said retired Fish and Wildlife Service Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator David R. Parsons. “The Service-appointed scientists on the most recent recovery team completed extensive analyses. Aspects of that science that are crucial to full recovery of Mexican wolves have been peer reviewed and published, but the Service refuses to acknowledge this new science and simply shut down the recovery planning process in 2011.”

With the abandonment of the 2011 recovery planning process, currently the only available document is the legally and scientifically deficient plan from 1982, which did not even include a goal for recovery – that task was left to a future team.

“The Service has repeatedly acknowledged that the current reintroduction program will not recover lobos, and yet it continues to stall on developing and implementing a recovery plan that will ensure the survival of these iconic and imperiled wolves,” said Maggie Howell, Executive Director of the Wolf Conservation Center.

Extensive scientific evidence, including research and analysis conducted by the Service’s own recovery team, is available to guide successful recovery planning.

“The Service knows what must be done to save the lobos,” noted Virginia Busch, Executive Director of the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Mo. “Only by developing and implementing a comprehensive and legally compliant recovery plan reflecting the best available scientific information can FWS secure the future of the Mexican wolf, and establish management sufficient to restore this irreplaceable part of our wild natural heritage to the American landscape.”

In addition to the missing recovery plan, the risk of a second extinction in the wild is compounded by the Service’s proposed regulatory changes that would keep wolves out of habitats north of Interstate 40, and would allow more wolves to be killed.

“The Service is on a course that contradicts the best available science, especially with this latest proposal. Lobos need a recovery plan and they need it now; they don’t need to be barred from the best habitats and they don’t need more reasons to be shot,” concluded Eva Sargent, Defenders of Wildlife Director of Southwest Programs.

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Background:

The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) —the “lobo” of Southwestern lore—is the most genetically distinct lineage of wolves in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the most endangered mammals in North America. By 1980, hunting and trapping caused the extinction of lobos in the wild, with only a handful remaining in captivity. In 1998 the wolves were reintroduced into the wild as part of a federal reintroduction program under the Endangered Species Act. Today in the U.S., there is a single wild population comprising only 83 individuals, all descendants of just seven wild founders of a captive breeding program. These wolves are threatened by illegal killings, legal removals due to conflicts with livestock, and a lack of genetic diversity.

The Service has never written or implemented a legally sufficient Mexican gray wolf recovery plan. The Service’s most recent recovery team has done extensive, rigorous work to determine what needs to be done to save the Mexican gray wolf. Recovery team scientists, agree that in order to survive, lobos require the establishment of at least three linked populations. The habitats capable of supporting the two additional populations are in the Grand Canyon ecoregion and in northern New Mexico/southern Colorado.

In July 2014, the Fish and Wildlife Service published a proposed revision of the rules governing management of Mexican gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act. The proposal includes provisions that would allow for increased take—or killing—of the critically endangered animals, and proposes to pick up wolves dispersing north of Interstate 40, which would prohibit the establishment of additional populations called for by recovery planners. The proposal is not based on a legitimate recovery plan.

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The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

David R. Parsons is a professional wildlife biologist with a master’s degree in wildlife ecology. He was a staff wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1975-1999. For the last 9 years of his tenure with USFWS, he served as the agency’s Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator. He guided USFWS through the decision process to reintroduce Mexican wolves back into the wild and the first two years of releases. He now serves as a science and policy advisor to various conservation organizations.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.

Earthjustice, the nation’s premier nonprofit environmental law organization, wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. Because the earth needs a good lawyer.

The Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Mo., was founded in 1971 by renowned naturalist Marlin Perkins and his wife Carol. It is certified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The Center’s mission is to preserve and protect Mexican gray wolves, red wolves and other wild canid species, with purpose and passion, through carefully managed breeding, reintroduction and inspiring education programs. More information about the Center is available at www.endangeredwolfcenter.org.

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

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In a recent interview on NPR, two kayakers describe their encounter with a great white shark off the coast of Massachusetts. In their account of the event it’s essential to note that the two young women didn’t let fear overcome their ability to apply knowledge to a potentially dangerous encounter with a predator. Despite the sharks exhibiting threatening behavior, the women wished no harm on the predator. This account supports the idea that people who start with positive attitudes to wildlife, do not demand lethal retaliation when wildlife acts wild. Only people who begin fearful or negative, demand lethal retaliation when wildlife behave as expected (wild…).

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Washington’s wolves were driven to extinction in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry. Since the early 2000s, the animals have started to make a comeback by dispersing into Washington from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia (Canada). They are listed as endangered throughout Washington under state law and the western two-thirds of the state under federal law.

In 2011 the WDFW Commission formally adopted the state’s wolf plan, which was crafted in a five-year process with input from a 17-member stakeholder group, more than 65,000 written comments from the public, and a peer review by 43 scientists and wolf managers. The plan requires 15 successful breeding pairs for three consecutive years to remove endangered-species protections. The goal of the plan was to recover wolf populations while minimizing livestock losses. However, the Commission and Department officials have publicly stated that they view the plan as “merely advisory.”

Less than a year (2012) after adopting the plan, the WA Department of Fish and Wildlife wiped out an entire pack of wolves, the Wedge Pack, including its young pups, which had allegedly depredated on cattle that grazed on public and private land. Fish and Wildlife Director Phil Anderson said the effort was necessary. “Lethal removal will remain a wolf-management option, but we will use it only as a last resort,” Anderson said. “We are committed to the recovery and sustainability of the gray wolf in Washington, and its numbers are increasing rapidly.”

The truth is wolf recovery is still in its infancy in Washington. According to the Department’s annual wolf report, its wolf population grew by only one wolf, from a population of 51 wolves to 52 wolves from the end of 2012 to the end of 2013. In contrast, there are 1.1 million head of cattle that roam public and private lands in the state – including throughout known wolf country.

The Wedge Pack debacle taught all involved that there must be commitments from the state and cattlemen to expand the early use of nonlethal efforts and proven effective wolf conflict avoidance techniques to ensure the future sustainability of wolves that are just beginning to reclaim parts of its historic range. Unfortunately, not much progress was made in that regard.

Now, another pack, the Huckleberry Pack, is the newest target of WDFW’s mismanagement. It was alleged that the pack was responsible for depredating 22 sheep pastured by Mr. Dave Dashiell – placed in an area that made it very difficult to implement nonlethal deterrents and conflict avoidance measures. While some attempts were made to use simple non-lethal methods, they were woefully late and poorly implemented. It is commonly known that these measures are effective only when used correctly and given time to work.

Like the Wedge Pack, the Huckleberry pack now remains in the crosshairs. The department already aerial-gunned a female wolf pup on August 24th. On Aug. 29th, the Steven’s County Commission released the following resolution.

It is important to note that among those Commissioners who signed it, is the brother of said sheep rancher, Commissioner Don Dashiell.  Also interesting is the sheep rancher is eligible for compensation (at taxpayer expense) for any lost sheep that were the result of confirmed wolf depredation.

Over the weekend, Stevens County ranchers moved their 1800 sheep to a temporary pasture before getting trucked to their winter range. During this move, members of Huckleberry wolf pack received temporary three-day reprieve. But, it is apparent that the kill order on this wild family has resumed.

On Aug. 28th, eight conservation groups filed an appeal with Governor Jay Inslee asking for reasonable and enforceable rules that mandate what ranchers need to do to protect their livestock and when the state can step in and kill an endangered species. Rules similar to those in place in Oregon and are working to encourage ranchers to enact nonlethal measures; there, the number of depredations has decreased dramatically, and the state has not killed wolves in more than three years. The appeal to Gov. Inslee was filed by groups representing tens of thousands of Washington residents, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, Western Environmental Law Center, Gifford Pinchot Task Force, The Lands Council, Wildlands Network, Kettle Range Conservation Group and the Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club. Upon receipt of the appeal, the governor’s office has 45 days to respond with a final decision.

Thus, the Wolf Conservation Center’s Awareness and Action Committee is encouraging its supporters to champion this effort by respectfully urging the Governor to (1) revoke the state’s kill order on the Huckleberry pack (2) adopt reasonable and enforceable measures that will ensure a future for wolf recovery in the state.

Please email and call Governor Inslee
governor@gov.wa.gov
• 360-902-4111.

Please remember to keep your comments respectful.

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It’s back to school time!  It’s always hard saying goodbye to summer.  Spending more time outdoors in Nature’s playground is essential and something we all can treasure. In order to be wise stewards of the very environment that sustains us, however, education is key. And so is heading back to school!

It is environmental education which can best help us as individuals make the complex, conceptual connections between economic prosperity, benefits to society, environmental health, and our own well-being. Ultimately, the collective wisdom of our citizens, gained through education, is the most compelling and most successful strategy for future conservation initiatives.

Through wolves, the Wolf Conservation Center teaches the broader message of conservation, ecological balance, and personal responsibility for improved human stewardship of our World. By providing science-based information, the WCC allows wolves and humans to better coexist in our fragile environment, improves our efforts to successfully restore endangered wolves to their ancestral homes in the wild and offers direct exposure to an elusive predator people might not ever see in the wild. The WCC education and Ambassador-wolf programs open the door to understanding the importance of a healthy planet. They are designed to conform to New York State Standards for Science Education and touch on a variety of disciplines from biology to history.

Schools can experience the WCC’s educational message in three formats:

• Onsite programs at the WCC facility in South Salem, NY;
• A visit to your school – offsite programs with WCC traveling ambassador wolf Atka.
• Classroom learning, though our innovative “Interdisciplinary Curriculum in Wolf Education – Tracks to the Future,” enables middle students to learn and master many of the required Common Core State Standards in Language Arts, Reading, Math, Science and Social Studies while using wolf conservation as an integrating theme. The Curriculum deepens the educational experience the Center can provide and expands the organization’s geographic reach.

To learn more about the WCC education programming and how to get your school/students involved, please visit www.nywolf.org.

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The passenger pigeon is among the most famous of American birds, but sadly this is due to it’s demise – the largest-scale human-caused extinction in history. Over a century ago, the last remaining birds that remained existed only in captivity. Similar to the critically endangered red wolf and Mexican gray wolf before their chance to reclaim the wild in the 1980s and 1990s. Unlike these lobos, the passenger pigeon didn’t get a second chance. The last male died in 1910, leaving “Martha,” a female, as a “barren relic of past abundance.” One hundred years ago this week, Martha, the very last pigeon of her kind, died in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Has the extinction of the passenger pigeon taught us anything? A compelling editorial in the New York Times asks this question in Saving Our Birds BY JOHN W. FITZPATRICK

“Preserving abundance in nature is ecologically just as important as rescuing rare species en route to extinction. The passenger pigeon taught us that even the most numerous species can undergo population collapses in astonishingly short periods of time. Cod fishermen of the North Atlantic learned the same painful lesson just two decades ago. It is far more effective and cost-efficient to conserve a species while it is abundant than to wait until it reaches the brink.”

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Eastern North Carolina Red Wolf Population Under Review

Originally published on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website – here.
Focus Group Sessions Scheduled
August 29, 2014

Contacts:
Tom MacKenzie, USFWS
404-679-7291
tom_mackenzie@fws.gov

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded a contract to conduct a review of the Eastern North Carolina non-essential, experimental red wolf population to the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI), of Cabot, Virginia. Founded in 1911, WMI is a private, non-profit, scientific and educational organization, dedicated to the conservation, enhancement, and professional management of North America’s wildlife and other natural resources.

The evaluation will be completed in 60 days by October 10, 2014. Under the Service’s contract, it will be peer reviewed and then used to help the Service determine the program’s future. That determination is expected to be finalized in early 2015. The evaluation will cover three primary areas: scientific, management, and public attitudes.

“Program evaluations are a normal practice to ensure optimal effectiveness and have been conducted in other recovery programs, such as the Mexican wolf recovery program,” said Leopoldo Miranda, Assistant Regional Director of Ecological Services in the Service’s Southeast Region. “Once we receive the final evaluation, we will review it and make a decision to continue, modify, or terminate the red wolf recovery program non-essential, experimental population in North Carolina.”

“The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission fully supports this evaluation to ensure the red wolf recovery program is based on sound-science and is managed in full alignment with the Red Wolf Recovery Plan,” said Gordon Myers, Executive Director, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. “We are committed to assisting the Service any way we can throughout this process.”

“We are interested in the public’s perspectives regarding red wolves, and red wolf recovery efforts in Eastern North Carolina,” Miranda added. “As part of the human dimensions portion of the evaluation, the Service also asked WMI to conduct two public focus group sessions.”

WMI will host the first in Swan Quarter, North Carolina, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 10, in the Mattamuskeet High School Cafeteria located at 20392 U.S. Highway 264. The second will be held in Columbia, North Carolina, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 11, in the Columbia High School’s Auditorium at 902 East Main Street

Interested individuals may submit comments, concerns, or information regarding the Eastern North Carolina non-essential, experimental red wolf population and the program evaluation to the following e-mail: redwolfreview@fws.gov. WMI also is conducting a brief voluntary online survey that does not request any personally identifiable information. Interested individuals may submit input to either, or both. To access the survey visit the following link: http://jgassett.polldaddy.com/s/red-wolf-restoration-recovery-program.

Any comments should be submitted no later than September 12, 2014. This will allow WMI time to review the comments and ensure relevant information can be considered during the review. Comments received after that date will not be considered in the program evaluation.

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