F1226_logo_2_smIn October of 2015, Mexican Gray Wolf F1226 (affectionately nicknamed “Belle” by the Wolf Conservation Center’s webcam watchers) joined the WCC family in order to meet a handsome “husband” – Mexican gray wolf M1133.

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 M1133 and F1226 are a great match on paper with an extremely low inbreeding coefficient.

Sometimes saving a species isn’t very romantic, but it turns out that F1226 and M1133 are a vibrant, loving, and playful pair that make it look like a whole lot of fun!

The unusually plump (er… big-boned) loba, is really quite stunning. And M1133 is a looker himself! And the attractive twosome bonded effortlessly. The day the wolves were officially introduced, a global audience of webcam watchers witnessed the lovely lobos meet with a kiss!

Their wild chemistry has continued to thrive, so much so that we’re hopeful the pair will make a valuable contribution to the recovery of their rare species by having pups this season.

Here’s hoping F1226 celebrates her 5th birthday by making a priceless contribution to the recovery of her rare species by becoming a mother!

Happy birthday, Mexican wolf F1226!

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M1198_lobo_stare_smAt least once a week I am privileged enough to hear one of the most rare and raw sounds: the howl of a Mexican gray wolf. The hauntingly beautiful sound pierces the sky and reminds all who listen of the wildness that surrounds us. Sadly, as evidenced by New Mexico’s decision to sue the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to prevent the release of Mexican gray wolves into their state, that wildness is rapidly fading.

My privilege only extends so far, for the howls I rarely hear are not the howls of wild lobos reveling in freedom. They are the howls of captive lobos that reside at the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY as part of the Mexican gray wolf species survival plan (MWSSP). These six lobos, each uniquely wild save the fences that enclose them, represent the future of their imperiled species. Each day they live and survive and unknowingly strive for a world with no boundaries, a world with only the open forest before them. For New Mexico to seek to prevent the release of a Mexican gray wolf pack is not only a disservice to the tireless efforts of all members of the MWSSP program but to all captive lobos as well.

New Mexico Game and Fish asserts they cannot stand idle and allow the USFWS to ignore the laws and regulations of New Mexico, but we cannot stand idle and allow New Mexico to ignore the laws of the wild. These lobos are meant to roam free on the site of their ancestors and if New Mexico refuses to grant them the freedom they deserve, it is only a matter of time before these primal creatures once again vanish from the wild landscape.

If the release of Mexican gray wolves into New Mexico is halted, the privilege I marvel at and remember fondly will become just that: a memory. Please stand with USFWS and strengthen the howls of all Mexican gray wolves so that their elusive voices may be heard by all, not just the privileged few.

Regan Downey, Youth Program Coordinator
Wolf Conservation Center

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Flowers are blooming, the trees are green, the peepers are peeping – signs all pointing to the arrival of a new season! Although the official start to spring can be found on the calendar, subtle cues from Mother Nature are indicators too! Ambassador wolves Atka, Alawa, Nikai and Zephyr have have been letting us know that spring has sprung – they’ve begun to shed their winter coats.

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A sample of the insulating undercoat

For weeks now their insulating undercoats have been falling from their bodies like sheets of soft wool to allow them to live comfortably during the dog days of summer. What triggers the shedding process? This time of year both male and female wolves have rising levels of a hormone called prolactin. Prolactin levels increase with the onset of long days, and during the short days of winter the hormone levels decrease. It is believed that prolactin has many key roles.

 

High levels of the hormone contribute to the following:

  1. Development of the mammary gland for expectant wolf mothers
  2. Maintenance of lactation – helps milk production in wolf mothers
  3. Promotion of parental behavior in both males and females and thus enhances pup survival
  4. Shedding of the undercoat!

So longer days alter the chemical makeup of wolves and help ensure that they spend the spring and summer months in comfort with their happy healthy packs.

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