The Northeast Wolf Coalition‘s NEW video introduces us to the region’s wild heritage. Big thanks to Predator Defense‘s Brooks Fahy and all our wonderful supporters who contributed photos to help demonstrate the present and potential beauty the Northeast offers.

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We can find out that it’s fall by looking at the calendar, but what fun is that? We know fall has arrived when we can kick our feet though a carpet of leaves, when everything nice is pumpkin-spiced, and when tank tops and bathing suits are replaced with football pads and chunky sweaters. We’re not the only ones who change wardrobes with the seasons, wolves do too! When trees explode with new color, a wolf glows in it’s newly grown coat.

A wolf’s coat consists of two elements: 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 works like a slicker, protecting a wolf from rain, snow, and sleet. The undercoat is usually gray in color and keeps the animal comfortable in cold temperatures. A wolf’s insulating undercoat begins to fall out like sheets of soft wool in the spring and a fresh under-layer thickens during the fall. The shedding cycle is driven by hormone levels that rise in the spring with the onset of longer days and decrease as day lengths shorten in the fall. Thanks to the photoperiodic rhythm of his body chemistry, Atka is prepared fall and likely looking forward to even colder temperatures on the horizon. Enjoy the day Atka!

Learn more about why wolves shed.

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Waning Wolf is a short film about Wolf Conservation Center Ambassador wolf Atka and his mission to teach people about the importance and plight of his wild kin. We’re happy to announce that the short is an official selection of the Woodstock Film Festival in Woodstock, New York! If you’re in the area, please consider seeing the film at one or both of it’s screenings!

October 17 – 12PM
October 18 – 2:15PM

Details and ticket information here.

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New Rules Expand Area Mexican Wolves Can Roam, But Also Allow Increased Wolf Killing

TUCSON, Ariz.— More than 71,500 people submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) in support of stronger protections for Mexican gray wolves during the comment period ending today. In July, the agency proposed a new rule updating management of these wolves that would, for the first time, allow releases of captive-bred animals into New Mexico and allow wolves much more room to roam than they’re currently allowed. Scientists and citizens have long urged adoption of these measures.

However, the science-supported provisions in the proposed rule would be undermined by provisions arbitrarily limiting wolves to south of Interstate 40 in Arizona and New Mexico, and increasing the circumstances in which wolves could be trapped or shot despite scientists’ recommendations that the Service must decrease already-excessive human-caused removal and mortality rates.

“We’ve got to let wolves roam, find the best habitat with their own noses and paws — and frankly, we’ve got to stop the slaughter of wolves by both government and private citizens,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The proposed rule falls short of what is needed, and we hope that the government will listen to the tens of thousands of citizens requesting they follow the science and let these lobos raise their pups, travel freely and contribute to the balance of nature without persecution.”

“The Endangered Species Act and the hard work of wildlife biologists and individuals and groups throughout the country have given these endangered wolves a life line, a second chance,” said Sandy Bahr, chapter director for Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon (Arizona) Chapter. “Now we need the US Fish and Wildlife Service to do its part – to reject these arbitrary borders, to stop the excessive killing of wolves, and to afford them the protections that are necessary for their recovery.”

Comments from conservation groups and thousands of citizens urged the Service to allow Mexican wolves to roam freely in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado; re-designate the small and vulnerable reintroduced population in the Southwest as “essential” under the Endangered Species Act; and spare wolves from trapping, snaring and shooting by the government and private individuals.

“The Service must decide how to manage the reintroduced Mexican wolf population based on the best available science,” said Drew Kerr, carnivore advocate with WildEarth Guardians. “The science shows that to recover, lobos need multiple populations in the American Southwest, freedom to roam their native habitat in the Grand Canyon and southern Rockies regions, and more protections from shooting and trapping.”

Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project Executive Director Emily Renn added, “Multiple studies, including peer reviewed science published in Conservation Biology just last year, show that the best available habitat for recovery of these special wolves is north of I-40. Many thousands of U.S citizens understand this, so why doesn’t the agency responsible for the wolves’ recovery?”

At last count, after thirty-six years of the government’s recovery efforts, just 83 wolves including only five breeding pairs, survive in the wilds of Arizona and New Mexico.

“Wolf supporters throughout the U.S. are united in wanting to see Mexican wolves roam throughout the Southwest so their howls can be heard again in every canyon and mountain range, and they can once again fulfill their important role as a top predator in maintaining the balance of nature in Southwestern ecosystems,” said Kevin Bixby, Executive Director of the Southwest Environmental Center.

Background
Under a 1998 rule, the Service reintroduced Mexican gray wolves to a small area on the border of Arizona and New Mexico known as the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. In accordance with a settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity, the Fish and Wildlife Service has now proposed to revise this rule and must finalize it by January 12, 2015.

The proposed rule allows release of captive wolves directly into New Mexico, which was previously only allowed for recaptured wolves. This should allow the release of more wolves from captivity, which is badly needed to bolster the genetic diversity of a wild population suffering from inbreeding depression and consequent lower reproductive rates.

The proposed rule also expands the recovery area across Arizona and New Mexico, and south to the Mexican border. By limiting wolves to the area south of Interstate 40, however, the proposed rule falls short of what scientists recommend.

A recovery team formed by the Service drafted a Mexican wolf recovery plan in 2013 that called for creating additional populations in the Southern Rockies and Grand Canyon regions. In response to objections from the states of Utah and Colorado, the agency neglected to finalize this recovery plan. Conservationists are pursuing litigation to obtain a final plan.

The proposed rule would liberalize take of wolves by allowing states to dictate wolf removal in response to wolves eating their natural prey such as elk and deer, and by allowing livestock owners greatly increased latitude to kill wolves, even those not involved in depredations.

In their comments, conservationists recommended the following:

• Designating Mexican gray wolves as “experimental essential” under the Endangered Species Act to bolster their legal and on-the-ground protections;

• Allowing wolves to roam into habitat north of Interstate 40;

• Requiring ranchers to remove or render inedible (for example, through lime) the carcasses of non-wolf-killed livestock before wolves can scavenge and become accustomed to eating livestock; and

• Disallowing take of wolves until the population reaches a science-based population threshold, in accordance with recovery recommendations the Service has ignored.

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.

The Sierra Club is now the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization — with more than two million members and supporters.

WildEarth Guardians is a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers and health of the American West.

The Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project is dedicated to bringing back wolves and restoring ecological health in the Grand Canyon Region.

The Southwest Environmental Center speaks for wildlife and wild places in the southwestern borderlands.

The following organizations also generated comments for Mexican wolf recovery:

Sierra Club-Rio Grande Chapter, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, White Mountain Conservation League, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Endangered Species Coalition, Mexicanwolves.org and the Wolf Conservation Center

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Victory for wolves in Wyoming! Federal judge reinstates federal protections statewide!

Center for Biological Diversity‘s Press Release.

Federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming were reinstated today after a judge invalidated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) 2012 statewide Endangered Species Act delisting of the species. The ruling from the U.S. District Court halts the management of wolves by Wyoming, a state with a history of hostile and extreme anti-wolf policies.

Background
On August 31, 2012 the USFWS officially stripped federal protections from Wyoming’s wolves and handed management over to the state, a controversial decision, and contradiction of the agency’s stance in the past. Although USFWS had previously criticized Wyoming’s state wolf plan on the grounds that unregulated shooting in most of the state would reduce the state’s wolf population below federally required levels, the agency took a significantly altered position, announcing that these wolves no longer warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The following day, management was handed over to the state and Wyoming’s inaugural wolf hunt commenced.

On November 13th, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), and the Sierra Club, all represented by Earthjustice — officially filed suit in federal district court in the District of Columbia asking “the court to declare this rule illegal, and put wolves back on the endangered species list until Wyoming adopts a responsible management plan that ensures the continued survival and recovery of wolves in the region.”

Almost two years later, Wyoming wolves receive a reprieve!

“The court has ruled and Wyoming’s kill-on-sight approach to wolf management throughout much of the state must stop,” said Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso. “Today’s ruling restores much-needed federal protection to wolves throughout Wyoming, which allowed killing along the borders of Yellowstone National Park and throughout national forest lands south of Jackson Hole where wolves were treated as vermin under state management. If Wyoming wants to resume management of wolves, it must develop a legitimate conservation plan that ensures a vibrant wolf population in the northern Rockies.”

Unfortunately, this decision won’t bring back the wolves that have been killed. Since the delisting in 2012, 219 wolves have been killed under Wyoming’s management.

USFWS is poised to remove Endangered Species Act protection for nearly all gray wolves across the United States, a proposal that the Wolf Conservation Center strongly opposes; a final decision could be made later this year.

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Red wolves exist in only one place in the wild*, the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge on North Carolina’s Albemarle Peninsula. The densely vegetated refuge is perfect for red wolves: full of prey and practically devoid of people. Perfect, except it may all be underwater soon.

Smithsonian Magazine explains why ignoring rising seas is not an option for red wolves.

Coastal North Carolina is more vulnerable than almost anywhere else in the United States to sea-level rise associated with climate change, and the 154,000-acre Alligator River refuge could be one of the first areas to go under.

*2 wild red wolves also exist on island propagation site at St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge. One of the red wolves, M1804, was born at the Wolf Conservation Center!

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By studying the wolves of Yellowstone National Park, a group of researchers are developing a new model for understanding how both ecological and evolutionary traits of an animal population change as the environment does.

The researchers recorded and studied data from Yellowstone for more than 15 years, including the body size, coat color, and population to see how animals react to climate change, both in terms of behavior – such as the age they first reproduce – and genetics – such as whether it has black or grey coat.

“We know that climate change is having an impact on the lives of animal species around the world. This is clear through the changes we’ve seen in their population sizes, as well as their body sizes, but what has not been so clear is what underlies these changes. This work provides a relatively easy way for biologists to investigate how, and why, environmental change impacts both the ecology and near term evolutionary future of species,” said researcher Tim Coulson, of Imperial College London.

The results from the study, published in the journal, Science, could eventually help scientists discover which animals, species ranging from mosquitoes to crocodiles, are more resilient to climate change – and which would be at most immediate risk of extinction. This is important data and can be used to set conservation policy.

Read more from Imperial College London News.

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“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
~ Dr Seuss, The Lorax

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Last month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that it will be conducting a review of the North Carolina red wolf population. The evaluation, which will be completed by October 10, 2014, will be peer reviewed and then used to help the Service determine if it will continue, modify, or END the program that manages the last remaining wild red wolves on our planet!

The future of this critically endangered species depends on us.

USFWS is seeking public input and the comment period will remain open through September 26, 2014. Comments are accepted at redwolfreview@fws.gov, and via postal mail: 1875 Century Blvd., Suite 200, Atlanta, Ga., 30345, marked “Attention: Red Wolf Evaluation.”

The value and importance of conserving species and ensuring biodiversity is an accepted axiom of the 21st century. The importance of a keystone predator such as the red wolf to a balanced and resilient ecosystem is undeniable. That our policies should be motivated by these basic scientific principles is a must.

Wildlife and other natural resources are a public trust. The public trust is a legal concept that implies that we all share equal, undivided interests in America’s wildlife. Thus, decision-making and resulting wildlife policy should be developed based on sound science and carried out in a democratic manner responsive to the voice of ALL people.

As a participant in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP), the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) has played a critical role in preventing the extinction of the red wolf through captive breeding and supporting the Alligator River reintroduction project by producing the wolves for reintroduction. The WCC is committed to the recovery of this rare wolf, and found it necessary to send members of our team to North Carolina to speak in support of red wolf recovery at last week’s review hearing. The WCC expressed support for continuing the red wolf recovery program in North Carolina and encouraged additional efforts to restore red wolves to portions of their former range.

For more information about the nature and controversy surrounding this review please click here. (Note: comment period has been extended since this article was published). Read the comments of a dozen prominent scientists re: this review here.

Learn more about the the red wolf via the WCC video below.

Please join the WCC and stand for this imperiled wolf.

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