This time of year Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) staff and volunteers pry into the private lives of the critically endangered wolves that call the WCC home. It’s the season for annual medical exams. People often ask us how we monitor the health of our wolves. Needless to say, the well-being of our wolves is a top priority, so we constantly take stock of their health, monitoring the shy animals as much as we possible in person and also via webcam. We also conduct periodic veterinary checks for hands-on assessments, vaccinations, and blood-work. Under Species Survival Plan protocols, our Mexican Gray Wolves and Red wolves must be checked by a veterinarian on an annual basis.

In order to examine each wolf, we herd the wolves through their spacious enclosure and into capture boxes – wooden doghouse-like structures with removable roofs. Once a wolf is captured in the box, our volunteer veterinarian proceeds with the exam. We administer vaccinations, take blood samples, and record their heart rate, temperate and weight.

Today was the first of three health examination days and we’re happy to report that all 5 wolves we examined (red wolves F1291, M1394, M1565, and F1397 and Mexican gray wolf F986) appear to be in GREAT health! We also learned that our largest wolf at the WCC is red wolf M1394 – he weighs 89 pounds! What a beefcake.

Big thanks to our great team of volunteers who came out for the task, to WCC’s generous veterinarian, Paul Maus, DVM from North Westchester Veterinary Office, and to all the red wolves and Mexican gray wolves who are unknowingly contributing to the recovery of their rare species.
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Wolf Conservation Center’s Maggie Howell talks all about wolves on Heritage Radio Network hosted by Animal Instinct. Listen HERE.

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John Vucetich, Michigan Tech associate professor of wildlife ecology and co-director of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Study, explains why a public hunt against wolves is not an answer.

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected is a coalition of conservation groups, animal welfare organizations, Native American tribes, wildlife scientists, faith groups, veterinarians, hunters, farmers, and concerned Michigan citizens. The coalition urges Michigan voters to say NO to the wolf hunt and by voting NO on Proposals 1 and 2 on November 4th.

Learn more.

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Recognizing the need for a collaborative effort that explores the vision of and potential for wolf recovery in the Northeast USA, the Northeast Wolf Coalition was established in March, 2014 as an alliance of conservation organizations in New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut and beyond. The Coalition’s work, guided by some of our nation’s best and brightest conservation scientists, strives to ensure that the foundation of its vision and work is based on the application of the best available and most current scientific principles.

“We have unique opportunities and challenges here in the Northeast,” said Maggie Howell, Wolf Conservation Center director and coordinator of the Coalition. “The Northeast Wolf Coalition is working together using the most current peer reviewed science to raise awareness and increase public understanding about wolves. A broad base of public support is necessary for wolves to recover and we remain committed to ensuring that stakeholders become active stewards in that regard. There are biological, economic and ethical reasons to facilitate wolf recovery and the Coalition is eager to work with area residents, organizations, and state and federal agencies to promote the wolf’s natural return to our region.”

The Wolf Conservation Center is honored to be among the participating organizations in the Northeast Wolf Coalition and also a fiscal sponsor. Please consider supporting the Coalition by purchasing a Northeast Wolf Coalition sweatshirt! All proceeds will be used solely for coalition work.

To learn more about the Coalition, please visit the website at  To purchase a sweatshirt to support the Coalition’s work, please click here.

Thank you!

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Today we are thrilled to reveal our BIG Wolf Awareness Week surprise – a NEW WEBCAM! We can now welcome a global audience to join a beautiful family of critically endangered Mexican gray wolves. The family consists of the 15-year-old matriarch, F613, and her four “kids” (M1139, M1140, F1143 & F1145) born at the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) on April 22, 2008.

Why Webcams?

Year round, visitors to the WCC enjoy meeting our Ambassador pack- Atka, Alawa, Zephyr, and Nikai but the WCC is actually home to 20 wolves!  Most of the WCC’s “other” 16 wolves — both Mexican gray wolves and red wolves — remain out of view.

The WCC participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and Recovery Plan for the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupis baileyi) and the red wolf (Canis rufus), which are among the rarest mammals in North America. Both species at one time were completely extinct in the wild. Under the aegis of the Endangered Species Act, reintroduction efforts in the past two decades have established small, wild populations of about 100 red wolves and 83 Mexican grays. Presently, there are approximately 400 Mexican gray wolves and 300 red wolves remaining in the world, the majority living in captivity within the network of facilities participating in the SSP.

Organizations participating in the SSP are tasked with housing and caring for the wolves, collaborating in the captive breeding program, and sharing observations and recommendations for release.

Wolves are naturally fearful of people, and a number of the WCC’s SSP wolves are candidates for release. Maintaining their timidity around people is essential if we want them to have a good chance of survival when they are released into the wild. Our SSP facility provides a natural environment where these most elusive creatures can reside with minimal human contact. Although this setting safeguards the natural behavior of these wolves, it also poses a great husbandry challenge for our staff: How to care for animals that we rarely see.

In the spirit of George Orwell’s “1984,” the WCC is making use of wireless surveillance cameras to observe food and water intake and monitor the physical well-being of each wolf without the animals’ knowledge. The cameras allow staff to study the pack dynamic and thus make the best recommendations with respect to which wolves are most suitable for release. The also give an unlimited number of viewers an opportunity to learn about the critically endangered species and our efforts to recover them.

So sit back, relax, and enter the private lives of these fascinating creatures.

Watch now.

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Today Nikai turns six months old! So throw back your head and let out a long celebratory howl for the newest member Wolf Conservation Center‘s Ambassador Pack! An inspiration from his adorable start, the stunning fellow continues to be a powerful presence in the fight to preserve wolves’ rightful place in the environment. 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!”

He joined his siblings, Zephyr and Alawa, in mid-August and together the trio thrive as a family in their Ambassador roles. They open the door to understanding what wolves really are and inspire people to care about the importance and plight of their wild kin. Happy half-birthday, Nikai! And thank you for your invaluable service!

Learn how you can help support the WCC by “adopting” Nikai! Click here for information.

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“The Endangered Species Act is not a tool to turn the clock back, according to Jimenez. Rather, it is designed to prevent the extinction of a species. Once the species is recovered, management is transitioned back to the states.”
~ Mike Jimenez, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s wolf coordinator for the Northern Rockies
Wolves’ past, present and uncertain future

Most will agree that the spotlight should remain on state management of wolves, in this case, in Wyoming. A ruling from the U.S. District Court halted the deeply flawed management of wolves by Wyoming because of its history of hostile and extreme anti-wolf policies. Prior to re-listing, wolves were treated as vermin in the majority of the state under its state management plan and they were killed along the borders of Yellowstone National Park and throughout national forest lands south of Jackson Hole. If Wyoming wants to resume management of wolves, it must develop a legitimate conservation plan that ensures a healthy sustainable population of wolves in the Northern Rockies in the long term. And, the plan must be based on the most informed scientific principles and an objective review of the needs for such a plan based on the facts:

  • As of 2014, Wyoming maintains 1.27 MILLION head of cattle. According to Wyoming Gray Wolf Recovery Status Report that was drafted in 2011 by Jimenez (the last full year prior to state management of wolves in Wyoming and the implantation of its predator zone), wolves killed 35 cattle, 30 sheep, one horse and one dog. With depredation losses as low as USFWS’s statistics reflect, what’s the justification for killing wolves at any time, by anyone, in any manner, for any reason in 85 percent of the state (and without a license required)?
  • In September 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced $900,000 in grants under the Wolf Livestock Demonstration Project Grant Program. Grants will be distributed to several wolf states including Wyoming. The grants assist livestock producers in undertaking proactive, non-lethal activities to reduce the risk of livestock loss from predation by wolves, and compensate producers for livestock losses caused by wolves. If Wyoming is truly committed to maintaining a sustainable wolf population in the state, we recommend that they consider rules, similar to those in place that are now working in Oregon, that encourage ranchers to enact proactive nonlethal measures to avoid the very conflict that leads to controversial management plans like a predator zone. These rules should be a welcome solution to the myriad of problems it faces in the public forum.”
  • According to Jimenez, “wolves prey on vulnerable elk, deer and moose populations. That causes conflict with hunters.” But, according to an August 2014 press release by Wyoming Fish and Game in the Billings Gazette, “ “Pronghorn, deer numbers down but elk doing well in NW Wyoming” the facts reveal:
    • Elk populations in the state remain healthy and this fall there will be good opportunity to harvest an elk. Good forage conditions on the summer range will likely hold elk on public lands later this year than in previous years. And, in fact, in some areas, elk numbers exceed management objectives and antlerless elk hunting opportunities have been increased.
    • For the past few years, mule deer populations have struggled, but not because of wolf predation. Harsh winters along with yearly outbreaks of hemmorhagic disease have taken a toll on the deer population. It is also important to note that despite these declines, mule deer hunting was not halted to help the struggling population.
    • Hunters pursuing white-tailed deer will likely see fewer deer than past years – but not because of wolf predation. In 2013 hemmorhagic disease caused a significant die-off of white-tailed deer in most areas. Because of this, most hunt areas have fewer licenses and hunting opportunities in 2014. But, again, white-tail deer hunting was not discontinued in response to these declines.
    • Moose numbers in hunt areas 9 and 11 in the Absaroka Mountains are still at low densities. But despite low permit levels, hunters still had good luck and harvested mature bulls with several (plus 45-inch) bulls being harvested.

So, we ask again, where is the justification for killings wolves in 85% of Wyoming? Let’s not forget that after the passage of the federal Endangered Species Act in 1973 and federal protections were afforded the gray wolf, federal recovery programs resulted in the rebound of wolf populations in limited parts of the country. Approximately 5,500 wolves currently live in the lower 48 states —a fraction of the species’ historic numbers.

Based on the results of a study by Drs. Creel and Rotella (2010), “Meta-Analysis of Relationships between Human Offtake, Total Mortality and Population Dynamics of Gray Wolves (Canis lupus),” population growth declines as wolf hunting increases, even at low rates of wolf kills; the populations in the study declined with quotas much lower than the thresholds identified in current state proposals. The altered pack structure that results from human-caused mortality causes an additional increment of wolves to die in addition to the predicted numbers due to reduced breeding and overall survival. They asserted that the effects of killing wolves on population growth may also not be fully manifested in one year. Both Creel and Rotella urged that their results should be expressed in policies for the management of large carnivores, particularly delisted wolf populations in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

Finally, the best available scholarship clearly indicates that good wildlife management is a judicious balance between science and democracy. Advocates of wolf hunting claim that wolf hunting is supported by the best-available science. This misrepresents the role of science. The best-available science clearly indicates that we have the technical ability to manage a wolf hunt without endangering the population viability of wolves. But there is no science that concludes it is necessary to kill wolves, especially at any time, by any person, in any manner, for any reason in 85 percent of a state.

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Predator killing contests, the elimination of entire families of wolves in wilderness areas, sharpshooters from the skies… Idaho’s aggressive approach to wolf management has tarnished the state’s image.   And it’s no wonder that resident wolves are opting to explore their options. Although we don’t know the motive, the Salt Late Tribune reports that one Idaho wolf opted out and accomplished an impressive trek south all the way to Utah. Read more.

Wolves roam. And technology in the form of GPS collars and radio collars have helped document some epic travels. In late August it was the frequency from his radio collar that helped biologists identify the four-year-old male as a member of a pack from the Idaho and Canadian border.  His journey puts him on a short list of pioneers to make the trek to Utah.

Wolf 314F
In 2009, a female gray wolf known as 314F crossed into the state of Utah. The 18-month-old wolf was a member of the Mill Creek pack in Montana and she was equipped with a GPS collar. The satellite data provided by her collar detailed her epic journey from Montana through Yellowstone National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming. She then went through southwestern Wyoming, southeast Idaho and northeastern Utah before crossing into Colorado. Biologists believe that she dispersed from her pack in search of a mate. Unfortunately, the wolf that made a 1,000-mile trek from Montana to Colorado was found dead in April of 2009.

Wolf 253M
One of the most famous Yellowstone wolves to land in Utah was also the first confirmed wolf in that state in over 70 years. His name was 253M, also known as “Limpy” or “Hoppy”. As a young male 253M left the safety of his pack, the Druids, and traveled across southern Wyoming until he crossed into Utah. 253M was caught in a trap in November of 2002 and was released into the wild of Grand Teton National Park two days later. Wolf 253M continued to make headlines until he was shot in Montana on March 28, 2008 during a brief window when wolves of the northern Rockies were without federal protections (before their eventual delisting in 2011).

These amazing journeys have helped reveal the valuable connection between Colorado, Utah and the Northern Rockies wolf population. It’s unfortunate that the state has taken suspect measures from letting wolves recover there.

UTAH and Wolves

In 2010, a number Utah lawmakers took steps to make war on wolves by introducing a bill that would require Utah to kill or capture any wolf that comes into the state. Utah has also awarded $800,000 over a four year period to anti-wolf lobby groups Big Game Forever (BGF) and Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife to help strip the gray wolf of federal protections. A 2013 audit left Legislative Auditor General John Schaff troubled. “The upfront payment, lack of accounting review and lack of a current-year plan lead us to believe that the contract lacks sufficient safeguards.”

(Perhaps Utah should be less concerned with wolves and more alarmed at how their tax dollars are spent!)

Here’s hoping the newest wolf resident of the “beehive state” outfoxes those who migtht aim to cause harm.

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Ambassador wolves Zephyr, Alawa, and Nikai serenade the moon!

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