Three Rare Red Wolf Pups born at Great Plains Zoo

Courtesy of Great Plains Zoo
Published: May 19, 2016, 12:10 PM

Great Plains Zoo Welcomes Three Rare Red Wolf Pups

Three Red Wolf pups were born at the Great Plains Zoo, the Zoo announced today. Red Wolves are a critically endangered species. The pups, all female, were born to mother “Ayasha” and father “Nayati” on April 10 and are now starting to make their first outdoor appearances.

The pups weighed less than a pound at birth and have grown to approximately six pounds each. The Zoo’s animal care staff monitored the birth through video cameras and continues to observe the new family. This is the third litter for mother Ayasha but the first for the pair.

“The Red Wolf is one of the world’s most endangered species with fewer than 300 individuals in existence today,” said Elizabeth A. Whealy, President and CEO of the Great Plains Zoo. “These pups are important not just to the Great Plains Zoo, but to the survival of the species as a whole. Thanks to the important work of zoos, we are able to use the Red Wolf as a success story for endangered species conservation efforts.”

Just like human newborns, the pups currently spend much of their time sleeping, eating and bonding with their family. The pups can now choose to be on exhibit, viewable by the public, at any time. The pups’ father, Nayati, can be seen daily in the Red Wolf exhibit.

Red Wolves were once common throughout the eastern and south central United States, but by the early 1900s, Red Wolf populations had fallen victim to predator control programs and habitat destruction. In 1980, they were declared extinct in the wild by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the remaining individuals were brought into captivity in an effort to preserve the species. Thanks to zoos working together through the Association of Zoos & Aquarium’s (AZA) endangered species breeding program, Red Wolves were brought back from the brink of extinction and were eventually reintroduced into the wild. Today, about 100 Red Wolves roam their native habitats in eastern North Carolina. The Great Plains Zoo has been a successful contributor to the AZA’s endangered species breeding program, breeding Red Wolves since 1993.

The Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last admission at 4 p.m. each day. Visit the Zoo online at http://www.greatzoo.org or call 605-367-7003 for more information about the Zoo and Museum.

Wolves in Idaho; Protesters Say Mismanaged

Courtesy of CDAPress.com

Frustrations about the way the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is managing the state’s wolf population ran high Monday in Coeur d’Alene.

Many turned out to testify at a public hearing the state’s Fish and Game Commission held during its meeting taking place Monday and today in the Lake City.

Some of the loudest complaints were from people upset about the use of taxpayer dollars to fund the commission’s Wolf Depredation Control Board. They claimed Fish and Game’s focus is on pleasing hunters and sportsmen instead of doing what is best for wildlife habitat.

Last year and again this year, the Legislature allocated $400,000 from the general fund to the Wolf Depredation Control Board. and up to $110,000 from Fish and Game that is matched by Idaho’s livestock industry. In total, the control board can receive up to $620,000 each year to use for “control actions against wolves when there is a depredation conflict between wolves and wildlife or between wolves and livestock” according to section 22-5301 of the Idaho Code.

Almost all who testified at the hearing urged the commission to suggest the Wolf Depredation Control Board return taxpayer dollars to be used in a better way or to stop killing wolves completely.

Read more…

Application seeking temporary halt of wolf releases moved to federal district court

Mexican Gray Wolves in the Gila National Forest.

Courtesy: New Mexico Game & Fish
Application seeking temporary halt of wolf releases moved to federal district court

New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Public contact, Information Center: (888) 248-6866
Media contact: Lance Cherry: (505) 476-8003
lance.cherry@state.nm.us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, MAY 17, 2016:

Application seeking temporary halt of wolf releases moved to federal district court

LAS CRUCES – In an effort to thwart the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) removed the department’s application to temporarily halt future Mexican wolf releases into New Mexico from state to federal court late Friday. The department’s application alleges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) ignored state and federal laws last month by importing and releasing two Mexican wolves without first obtaining required state permits.

Under New Mexico law, the importation and release of non-domesticated animals requires a permit from the department and federal law instructs the USFWS to consult with the states and obtain necessary permits before releasing wildlife.

“Although we anticipated this move,” said Department Director Alexandra Sandoval, “we believe recent actions by the USFWS violate state and federal law. A review of the state law violations certainly belongs in state court. Regardless of venue, we are committed to pursuing this matter.”

The department originally filed the application in the state’s 7th Judicial District Court. It has since been moved to the U.S. District Court in Las Cruces.

The fight and politics for saving Mexican Gray Wolves

Courtesy of The Southwest Environmental Center

Commentary:  The Southwest Environmental Center blasted the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) for trying to block releases of endangered Mexican wolves into the state. NMDGF announced today that it was seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) from releasing more wolves.

“We fully support federal officials for doing what is needed and legally required under federal law to recover the highly endangered Mexican wolf, despite the regrettable attempts by New Mexico to put roadblocks in their way for purely political reasons,” said Kevin Bixby, executive director of the Southwest Environmental Center. “It seems pretty clear that NMDGF’s actions are a delaying tactic, and that state officials are trying to run out the clock on Mexican wolf recovery.”

Bixby noted that New Mexico officials under Governor Susana Martinez’ administration have consistently opposed Mexican wolf recovery. The state withdrew from participating as a partner in the recovery program in 2011 shortly after Martinez was elected. NMDGF and the NM Game Commission—whose seven members were appointed by Martinez—then abruptly denied permits that had routinely been issued in the past to FWS and Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch to import and release wolves in the state.

More recently, Martinez joined neighboring states’ governors in sending a letter to federal officials stating their opposition to allowing Mexican wolves to expand into areas that biologists say are essential to their recovery.

Bixby also noted that Mexican wolves are protected as a state endangered species under the New Mexico Wildlife Conservation Act (WCA). “Rather than wasting tax dollars trying to prevent federal officials from doing the right thing, NMDGF should do its job and get busy helping to restore wolves, as it is required to do under state law,” he said. The WCA requires that NMDGF develop recovery plans for species listed as threatened or endangered under the act, something the department has never done for Mexican wolves.

Biologists say that releases of more wolves into the wild from the captive population is the only way to reverse a decline in the genetic health of the wild Mexican wolf population. They say releases are urgently needed to restore genetic variation and prevent Mexican wolves from going extinct in the wild. The window for making these releases to carry out a “genetic rescue” of Mexican wolves is limited. The FWS recently placed two captive-born wolf pups, selected for their genetic makeup, with a wild litter in the Gila National Forest in a process known as cross-fostering.

NMDGF argues that FWS needs to finish revising its Mexican wolf recovery plan before going forward with releases, which FWS has committed to do by the end of 2017 as part of a court settlement. NMDGF is being disingenuous when it says that a recovery plan needs to be completed before more releases can take place. Recovery planning is important, but not the highest priority.

“It’s like saying you need to figure out how many gallons of water are needed to put out a fire before attempting to put it out,” said Bixby. “The decline in genetic health of wild Mexican wolves is the fire we need to put out—right now–and releasing more wolves is the only way to do it.”

With only about 97 Mexican wolves in the wild of NM and Arizona, and less than 25 in Mexico, the “lobo” is one of the most endangered canids on the planet.

The Southwest Environmental Center works to protect and restore wildlife and their habitats in the Southwest.

Wolves of Denali; Visitors decline due to Wolf harvest along border

Denali National Park and Preserve is located in Interior Alaska centered on Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America with a summit elevation of 20,310 feet (6,190 m) above sea level, in the Alaska Range. The park and preserve cover more than 6 million acres, 4,724,735.16 acres are federally owned national park. The preserve is 1,334,200 acres, of which 1,304,132 acres are federally owned.

Wolf monitoring in Denali NP&P began in 1936, but accurate data on population estimates did not begin until 1986 when David Mech (wolf biologist) and others initiated a large scale study. According to the National Park Service ” The current monitoring program consists of maintaining one or two radio-collared wolves in each known pack inhabiting the park north of the Alaska Range. Radio-collared wolves are located about twice per month, with additional locations during late September to early October to determine fall pack sizes and to count pups, and during March to determine late winter pack sizes.” This monitoring data is used to determine abundance and density of wolves, wolf movement, den locations, mortality factors, behavior and population dynamics.

In a recent study published on PLOS ONE, scientists examined the effects of killing wolves on the boundaries of both Denali and Yellowstone National Parks and the subsequent impact on peak wolf viewing tourism.The study concluded that wolf sightings were “significantly reduced” by killing wolves along park boundaries and adjacent to protected areas. Specifically in Denali National Park, sightings in the park were more than twice as frequent in times with a “harvest buffer zone”, than periods of time without it. Denali has a Wolf Viewing Project which concedes the fact that wolf viewing is one of the primary objectives for visitors to the park. However, in 2010 Denali’s harvest (killing) buffer was eliminated which could have led to the reduction in wolf viewing success from 45% in 2010 to 5% last year.

The issue arises from the fact that wolves travel, their territories are in constant flux and they don’t obviously adhere to the boundaries and borders of protected areas, creating hard to manage transboundary areas and conflicts. It was discerned that although killing certain wolves did not effect population numbers in general,  it could lead to the decline or demise of an entire pack. In a 2014 study that analyzed the “Impacts of breeder loss on social structure, reproduction and population growth in a social canid”, namely Gray Wolves in Denali NP. The study concluded that breeder loss from a wolf pack preceded 77% of pack dissolution during the study period , and that pack dissolution was greater when the loss of a breeder or both breeders occurred in a small pack.

Additionally, in the PLOS ONE  study it was determined that “population size, pack size and den site location were strong drivers of sighting opportunities for wolves within these protected areas. These findings suggest that harvest is likely to have particularly strong effects on sightings when harvest reduces population size or affects breeding behavior within protected regions.” Meaning, when wolves are killed “harvested” or used for “consumptive” purposes during breeding season in and adjacent to wolf viewing and protected areas, there is direct effect on “non-consumptive” viewing for tourists along park boundaries and roads.

Lawmakers question wolf collar data blackout for ranchers

A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife file photo shows a member of the Teanaway wolf pack. Some local and state officials want the department to share wolf tracking data with ranchers during denning season.
A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife photo shows a member of the Teanaway wolf pack. Some state and local officials want the department to share wolf tracking data with ranchers during denning season.

By: Matthew Weaver

Courtesy of: Capital Press
Published on May 6, 2016 10:09AM

Several Washington lawmakers are questioning a lack of wolf location data for ranchers during a key point in the season for both wolves and livestock.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife shares raw locations and GPS coordinates off of wolf collars with ranchers with livestock in wolf pack territory, to help reduce the risk of conflicts between wolves and livestock. The department shares the information online with producers who have a data-sharing agreement except for the denning season. Wolf location around den sites may make the animals more vulnerable, said Donny Martorello, wolf policy lead for the agency.

Washington Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, and Stevens County Commissioner Wes McCart say the wolves’ location should be available to ranchers year-round.

Denning coincides with calving, the most vulnerable time for a rancher’s operation, Short said.

“Once again, my farmers and ranchers are the ones getting the short end of the stick,” Short said. “They need access to that data when they are vulnerable.”

“If it’s illegal to go out and poach those animals, I don’t see any one of our ranchers, farmers, anybody that’s going to risk being put in jail or fined just to go track down one den of wolf pups,” McCart said. “I think there’s a total lack of trust on behalf of the department to those that are being affected.”

The online tool to look at the raw information is turned off during this time, but the department still shares the information with ranchers verbally or with printed maps, Martorello said.

“There’s always some risk, particularly when wolves and livestock are in close proximity,” Martorello said.”If we have any producers that overlap with those den sites, we make sure those producers are aware of that.”

Some ranchers make routine calls to determine wolf locations or the department provides a weekly map of the wolves’ activities, he said.

Ranchers concerned about possible close proximity should contact the department, Martorello said.

McCart doesn’t believe the department’s current steps are adequate.

“We have enough money in this state to be paying people to watch computer screens of where these wolves are and give affected property owners a phone call, rather than just let them do it on their own?” he said. “That makes no sense.”

Live collar data will be available to ranchers signed up with a data-sharing agreement again beginning June 1, Martorello said.

The department will meet with county commissioners shortly to determine if there are other solutions to data sharing and den sites, he said.

“We’re looking for a creative solution that meets the needs of identity of critical points on the map for a recovering wolf population but at the same time, meets the needs of producers being able to minimize risks,” he said. “I can’t say what it’s going to look like, but we’re going to roll up our sleeves and try to figure something out,”

“The department is trying to work on these things really hard,” Short said. “My big frustration continues to be, it’s not on my ranchers’ timeline. If they’re the ones on the forefront of feeling the impact, then it ought to be, frankly, done on their time frame, not everybody else’s. We’ve been at this for years and my ranchers continue to be impacted.”

Two Captive Mexican Gray Wolf Pups now being Fostered by Wild Mom

Vida

The Endangered Wolf Center in St. Louis, Mo. collaborated with the U S Fish and Wildlife Service to fly two newborn Mexican Gray Wolf pups from the Center in St. Louis to gray wolf territory in New Mexico. The pups were born April 15, 2016 in St. Louis and given the names Lindbergh (mp1461) after the famous aviator and Vida (fp1462).

Placing captive born Mexican wolves into a den of wild wolves has never been tried before, and marks the first time for the cross-fostering of Mexican Gray Wolves. Under the care of Regina Mossetti (Director of Care and Conservation at EWC) and Emma Miller of the Endangered Wolf Center, the pups were flown safe, warm and sound to New Mexico.

The wolf pups were released into the den of the “Sheepherders Baseball Park” Pack in the wolves’ territory in Cantron County, New Mexico. The new wild father of the pups is M1284 (collared) and the mom is M1392, who already had her own litter of five pups.

The adoption of captive wolf pups into a wild pack is a careful undertaking as the wolf pups from both the captive and wild mates should not be more than a few days apart in age. The transfer of the pups from captivity to wild should, in general, take place before the pups are ten days old. These challenging requirements make for even more challenging logistics of a known wild wolf den, timing, weather, terrain and travel.

“Two nine-day-old Mexican wolf pups were moved from the more genetically diverse captive population and placed into a den with a similarly aged litter in the wild,” Fish and Wildlife said in its own statement. “The intent is for these newly released pups to be raised in the wild by experienced wolves and ultimately contribute to the gene diversity of the wild population by becoming successful, breeding adults.”

If the trial fostering induced by the USFWS proves to be a successful adoption by the wild mated pair of Mexican Gray Wolves of the SBP pack, it will provide a boost to the whole of the wild population of Mexican Gray Wolves as well as much needed genetic diversity to the less than 100 (97 in 2016) wolves currently in the wild. According to the last count, 47 of the 97 are found in New Mexico, mostly in the Gila National Forest.