The Wolf Conservation Center is home to a few fellas who have worn the badge of fatherhood and today we want to honor them. Mexican wolves M804, M740, M566, M575, M904 and red wolf M1483, Happy Father’s Day!
A great way to support wolves and their recovery is by writing a Letter to the Editor (LTE). A letter by WCC’s Maggie Howell was published in today’s Salt Lake Tribune re: USFWS’s nationwide delsting plan. Read it here.
You too can join the conversation. If you’re interested in learning how to write an effective LTE, please visit National Wolfwatcher Coalition’s website page dedicated to this process.
Four Decades of Wolf Recovery Slated to End
Last Friday the USFWS officially announced its plan to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the contiguous United States. Federal ESA protections would remain only for the small population of Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) in the desert Southwest.
Will History Repeat Itself?
Wolves have been in the cross-hairs before. Gray wolves were persecuted so heavily in the past that by the mid-1900’s most lands in the lower 48 United States were void of this top predator. With the support of the American public, however, the wolf was able to return to portions of its native range. In areas where wolves were restored like the northern Rocky Mountains and western Great Lakes states, scientists have noted more diverse plant and wildlife thriving where they had been suppressed for decades. Wolves are a critical keystone species in a healthy ecosystem. Without predators, such as wolves, the system fails to support a natural level of biodiversity. As Aldo Leopold wrote in A Sand County Almanac in the Chapter “Thinking Like A Mountain”
“I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer. And perhaps with better cause, for while a buck pulled down by wolves can be replaced in two or three years, a range pulled down by too many deer may fail of replacement in as many decades.”
The ESA let our country give wolves a second chance. With second chances so hard to come by, should we be willing to throw it away?
Next Steps to Act for America’s Wolves
Although USFWS director Daniel M. Ashe declared victory for gray wolf recovery by stating “Wolves are recovered and they are now in good hands,” the WCC feels that the delsiting rule is terribly premature. USFWS is gauging gray wolf recovery solely on the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes wolf populations. Under the Endangered Species Act, USFWS is obligated to recover endangered species across a “significant portion” of their historic range. In recent years, there have been several reports of wolves from Canada crossing the frozen St. Lawrence Seaway into Maine, wolves travelling miles south into the southern Rocky Mountain states of Utah and Colorado, and accounts of one wolf, OR-7, becoming a media sensation when he became the first wild wolf to enter California in over 80 years. By stripping federal protections from wolves nationwide, these pioneers on the West Coast and in historically occupied areas like the southern Rockies and Northeast, may never be able to establish a viable populations despite suitable habitat and availability of prey.
The USFWS’s delisting proposal is be open for public comment for 90 days. We encourage you to begin taking action immediately here.
- Email Interior Secretary Sally Jewell
- Contact your members in the House of Representatives and Senate
- With just one click you can amplify your voice of opposition to USFWS’s by joining California Wolf Center’s Thunderclap
Thank you for your support!
Yesterday we were thrilled to present wildlife & conservation artist Alison Nicholls to lead an adventure in creativity – the Wolf Conservation Center Sketching Safari!
Nine artistic supporters joined the three-hour program to enjoy the morning and to capture the splendor of WCC’s Ambassador wolves on paper. The workshop began with an informative session and demo in our classroom cabin. Alison Nicholls described some of the challenges of sketching in the bush, some useful techniques to facilitate sketching dynamic beasts that might not care to hold a pose, and the handy tools that allow her to sketch on the go. We also discussed Alison’s Conservation Sketching Expeditions and how she uses her art to support conservation projects like the Painted Dog Conservation project in Zimbabwe and the African People & Wildlife Fund in Tanzania. Then, with Alison’s guidance, the group joined the WCC’s Ambassador wolves to get started on their sketches. Alawa and Zephyr were wonderful models. They posed by the fence, in the tall grass, and up upon their tall rock – they even sang a few notes for every now and then. By workshop’s end, everyone had several sketches, photos, and memories to hold them over until their next visit to the WCC.
To learn more about how you can join Alison Nicholls on Art Safari in September- you can read all about it in Africa Geographic Safari. You can join Alison’s exhibition, “Lions, Livestock & Living Walls,” featuring Alison’s field sketches, studio paintings and information about African People & Wildlife Fund in Tanzania. The exhibit will be on display in Rye, New York from July 3 – August 24 and you can join Alison for the Artists’ Reception and short talk on July 9 at 6.30pm. More info.
Last month we welcomed a reprieve for gray wolves when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that the proposed nationwide delisting of wolves in lower 48 had been delayed indefinitely. Wildlife advocacy organizations, scientific communities, and some members of Congress celebrated this short lived victory until just hours ago when USFWS formally resurrected the controversial gray wolf delisting proposal.
The USFWS plans to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the contiguous United States. Federal ESA protections would remain only for the small population of Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) in the desert Southwest. Between 2011 and 2012, ESA protections had already been lifted from gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountain states of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the western Great Lake states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and some 1,600 wolves have since been killed by hunters and trappers in those states. While today’s delsiting proposal will not directly impact wolves in these areas, the small number of wolves on the West Coast and wolves that have slowly been moving back into historically occupied areas like the southern Rocky Mountains and Northeast may never recover if this plan is implemented.
What about Wolves in the Northeast?
Another interesting wrinkle is that the proposal includes plan to promote the eastern wolf (Canis lupus lycaon) to a distinct species (Canis lycaon).
There are three species of wolves in the world: the gray wolf (Canis lupus), the red wolf (Canis rufus), and the Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) sometimes referred to as the Abyssinian wolf. Scientists debate whether the Ethiopian wolf is a true wolf or a member of the jackal family (Canis aureus). It’s not uncommon for debate to surround the classification or status of a species, but for years most scientists have recognized that there are five subspecies of the gray wolf in North America:
- Canis lupus baileyi – the Mexican wolf or lobo.
- Canis lupus nubilus – the Great Plains or buffalo wolf.
- Canis lupus occidentalis – the Canadian or Rocky Mountain wolf.
- Canis lupus arctos – the arctic wolf
- Canis lupus lycaon – the eastern or Algonquin wolf.
In recent years, scientists have presented data indicating that Canis lupus lycaon, the eastern timber wolf, may be a distinct species, Canis lycaon, and the USFWS delisting proposal will classify these wolves as such. There is growing evidence suggesting that gray wolves are attempting to naturally re-colonize the Northeastern U.S. from neighboring populations in Canada. But can this newly-recognized species recover successfully if denied ESA protections under the proposed rule?
The USFWS’s premature delisting proposal is open for public comment for the next 90 days. Information on how to provide comments will be made available on the USFWS’s wolf information page at www.fws.gov/graywolfrecovery062013.html.
More to come.
Today our friends from Companion Pictures production company came to the Wolf Conservation Center to capture the wolves and our efforts to safeguard their wild kin on film! The day was really fun, the WCC and Companion Picture teams have great synergy. We share an admiration for teamwork, thus a connection to the “pack.” We can’t wait to see how their wild day translates on film!
AZCentral.com published a great editorial and video about Mexican gray wolves, the efforts to recover them, and the unnatural challenges they face on the wild landscape. The video reflects the measures taken to return the critically endangered Mexican wolf to its ancestral landscape in the southwest and the viewpoint of ranchers in the community. Is Ranchers’ entitlement hurting the population? Those in the video want wolves dead and would shoot one themselves. Two Mexican wolves have been released to the wild from the Wolf Conservation Center, one in 2006 and the other on 2008, and each wolf had only a few months to enjoy their rightful place in the wild before being shot and killed. These crimes have a choke-hold on wolf recovery and it’s more important than ever that fellow citizens and decision makers voice their support for Mexican gray wolves. The wolves are ready and the wild is calling. We need to do better at giving wolves a chance.
Read the editorial and watch the video here.
A great way to support wolves and their recovery is by writing a Letter to the Editor. Here are some tips you will help you to write a more effective letter, and increase your chances of getting published. How to write your letter.
Submit your letter to AZCentral.com here.