Wolf center seeking to breed two endangered species

 

(Note: If this were not a serious moneymaker, how much interest would there be? A wolf is a wolf, according to at least two "wolf experts," and there is no DNA difference between a coyote and a "red wolf." Coyotes are anything but endangered. The reporter added the requisite interview from the side of those employing common sense, but the article reads like something from "Wolf Center" literature. Kenton Joel Carnegie must not be forgotten, and the fact that this 22-year-old tall, healthy man was stalked, chased down, killed and partially eaten by a wolf pack must not be discounted or marginalized. Using large predators for other agendas besides "restoration" or "protection" -- including, but not limited to, de facto real estate agents -- is a false premise and arguably criminal. Defenders of Wildlife does not pay for all kills and have refused to pay for kills where Defenders says people shouldn't have cattle or sheep. See: http://www.propertyrightsresearch.org/2004/articles5/beartooth_sheep_kills_won.htm)

 

February 22, 2007


By Sean Gorman sgorman@lohud.com or 914-666-6481


The Journal News

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Lewisboro, New York - Just beyond a path of wood chips, a gray wolf peers out from its fenced-in enclosure. The 7-year-old male, Lukas, is one of the Wolf Conservation Center's "ambassador" wolves, shown to visitors to help dispel myths about an animal that has fascinated and frightened humans.

Farther up the path, past a roped-off area, are two enclosures for the center's more elusive residents -- breeding pairs of Mexican gray wolves and red wolves, endangered species driven to near extinction in the 20th century.

The breeding pairs don't have names. They are not shown to the public and are mostly hidden by plastic slats in their fencing to minimize contact with people and to lessen distractions during the breeding season, which ends this month.

During a tour this week at the South Salem center, a red wolf could be seen briefly, darting out over the snow-covered ground.

"Hopefully, they're going to be breeding," said Rebecca Bose, the center's curator. "We're keeping our fingers crossed."

The breeding pairs are part of federal programs designed to bolster the population of both species so they can be reintroduced to their traditional ranges -- the Southwest for the Mexican gray wolf and the southeastern United States for the red wolf.

The Wolf Conservation Center had hoped its red pair would produce pups last year, but that didn't happen. So officials hope this season will prove more fruitful. This is the first year they've had a breeding pair of Mexican grays.

"Hopefully their offspring will have a future that will include living free in the wild," said Maggie Howell, the center's managing director.

Pups are born in the spring.

The Mexican gray wolf's traditional range covered Mexico, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico before human settlement and extermination campaigns nearly wiped them out by the 1970s, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Web site. A few Mexican gray wolves were captured and a captive breeding program started. Today, there're about 350 in captivity, Howell said.

The Mexican gray wolf reintroduction started in the Southwest in 1998, and the latest estimate is that there are 59 wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico, the federal agency said.

Among the wolves released into the wild was a female from the South Salem center known as F-838. She was released in July in Arizona, along with a male and two pups.

The female has since been found dead, but the cause is unknown, Howell said. Her mate joined another pack, and the pups dispersed, she said.

The South Salem center has sent another Mexican gray, a 4-year-old female, to a pre-release center in New Mexico. The ideal situation would be for her to breed with a mate so a new family can be released into the wild, Howell said.

Some Mexican wolves that have been released have bred in the wild, said Elizabeth Slown, a [U.S.] Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman [elizabeth_slown@fws.gov]. Balancing the wild wolf population growth with the fact they sometimes kill livestock has been an issue, she noted.

"While the wolves generally go after elk, deer, things like that, they sometimes go after cows," Slown said.

Wolf reintroduction long has been controversial. While conservationists say returning wolves to the wild restores the balance to the ecosystem, ranchers express their concerns.

"We have had multiple attacks on dogs, on horses, in the last few months," Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association [nmcga@nmagriculture.org], said yesterday. "When they eat a young calf, there's nothing left."

The Defenders of Wildlife has a compensation program to repay ranchers for lost livestock, said Nina Fascione, the organization's vice president for field conservation programs.

Fascione suggested there are ways to prevent livestock losses yet still allow wolves to remain in the wild, such as hiring range riders to keep an eye over livestock or stringing colorful flags along pastures to frighten wolves away.

The Southwest repopulation has been going slow[ly], Fascione said, adding that by now 100 wolves were supposed to be living in the wild.

The red wolf recovery program, meanwhile, has been releasing those wolves in North Carolina, where about 100 live in the wild. There are an additional 184 red wolves held in captivity, Howell said.

"You can't even exaggerate how important it is to have respectable captive-breeding facilities like the Wolf Conservation Center to help house ... and breed these animals that are still rare in the wild," Fascione said.


Sidebar [of "facts"]


Mexican gray wolf
- Traditional range included Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Mexico.
- Were near extinction by the 1970s.
- There are some 400 left, about 60 in the wild.

Red wolf
- Once common throughout the southeastern United States.
- Declared extinct in the wild in 1980.
- About 300 remain, roughly 100 in the wild in North Carolina.

Sources: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maggie Howell of the Wolf Conservation Center.

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For more on nature and the environment, visit "The Nature of Things" blog at http://nature.lohudblogs.com.

Related Articles:
Video: Breeding wolves in Lewisboro
http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070221/VIDEO01/70221007/1018/NEWS02

 

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Additional related information:

 

http://www.propertyrightsresearch.org (search the site for "wolf")