Feb 28

MO: Researchers learn new technique

Researchers learn new technique

By Eric Hand
Of the Post-Dispatch

Nine women, a Norwegian veterinarian and two Mexican gray wolves were crammed together Sunday in a tiny trailer at the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center in Eureka.

The anesthetized wolves, tongues lolling, were certainly calmer than the researchers, who passed catheters and syringes around the tight space, hoping to help a male wolf named Dude impregnate a female named Nikomis.

Last week at the center, Norwegian veterinarian Ragnar Thomassen completed the first intrauterine artificial inseminations of an endangered species.

His technique, at least two or three times as good at producing pups as conventional ones, will give the west St. Louis County research center another tool in its ongoing effort to bring the Mexican gray wolf back from near extinction.

In the late 1970s, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service trapper caught the last five wild Mexican gray wolves from their high terrain in Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico. The Mexican gray wolf is a genetically distinct subspecies of the more common gray wolf.

The animals arrived in 1980 at the research center, a 65-acre sanctuary within Washington University’s Tyson Research Center, along with a few Mexican grays from zoos. The first captive-bred pups were born in 1981.

Every Mexican gray wolf in existence can trace its genetic lineage through the center, said director Susan Lindsey. Lindsey says there are now 240 captive wolves, and about 60 have been released to the wilds of Arizona and New Mexico.

Since the wolves come from only a handful of founders, zookeepers want to breed for genetic diversity, which lets animals adapt and fight disease better, said Edward Spevak, a Cincinnati Zoo biologist. Spevak uses matchmaking software that crunches the entire wolf family tree and every year picks the wolf couples that would produce the most genetically prized pups.

“But animals don’t always do what you tell them to do,” said St. Louis Zoo research director Cheryl Asa. She noted that wolves tend to take one mate for life. Also, she said, moving a wolf to a different zoo for a blind date is expensive and hard on the animal.

Artificial insemination is simpler. Semen can be frozen, stored and transported cheaply. But the conventional insemination technique – where semen doesn’t get past the cervix and into the uterus – isn’t very successful. It only works about 20 percent to 40 percent of the time, Lindsey said.

Researchers have better luck with surgical techniques – where semen is injected into the uterus through a small abdominal incision – but they don’t want to run the risk of infection with an animal that is unruly, dirty and hard to monitor.

That’s why Asa and Lindsey brought Thomassen to St. Louis – so he could teach local researchers his intrauterine technique. It requires the delicate passing of a catheter through a bean-sized cervix, then injecting semen through the tube. He said his technique produced pregnancy up to 95 percent of the time – as good as natural mating.

Thomassen used the technique to inseminate two female wolves last week. On Sunday morning, the researchers were ready for Nikomis, the last of the three females, on the day she was expected to ovulate.

Assistant center director Kim Scott collected Dude’s semen in a plastic cup after the wolf was stimulated electrically. “Good boy,” Scott said, patting the wolf’s chest after he had produced a half-dozen small samples.

The researchers moved Dude out by his furry scruff and put Nikomis in place. Thomassen gave advice to St. Louis Zoo lab manager Karen Bauman, whose eyes were closed in concentration as she tried to slip a footlong catheter past the wolf’s cervix.

“It’s like threading a needle, but you can’t see the hole you’re trying to thread,” she said, after wiping sweat from her brow.

Lindsey said she would know in a month if the three females were pregnant.

The Mexican gray wolf, a genetically distinct subspecies of the more common gray wolf, is the rarest and most-endangered wolf species in the world.

Weight: 80 pounds.

Size: Up to 5 feet long, about the size of a German shepherd.

Range: Before last century, the wolf could be found in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico.

Speed: Up to 35 mph.

Reproduction: Once a year, litters of four to six puppies are born after a pregnancy of two months.

Prey: White-tailed deer, mule deer and elk.

Population: About 240 in captivity and 60 released to the wild.

Goal: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants a wild population of 100 wolves.

Sources: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Wild Canid Survival and Research Center

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Feb 27

CO: Preparing for predators

Preparing for predators

Julie Sutor

SUMMIT COUNTY – What do you get when you put four wildlife advocates, four livestock producers, two sportsmen, two government officials and two biologists in a room together?

A wolf management plan for Colorado.

That unlikely coalition has spent the past year preparing for wolves’ arrival in Colorado. Although it’s improbable anyone will spot a wolf running through High Country forests in the immediate future, the Colorado Division of Wildlife wants to be ready when they do arrive.

“When might that happen? We don’t know,” said biologist Gary Skiba of the Division of Wildlife “It’s entirely speculative. Some people think it could happen any day and some say it will never happen. And people from both those groups are wolf biologists.”

Gray wolves roamed through Colorado until the mid-1930s, when they were eradicated by settlers. In the 1990s, the federal government reintroduced wolves into Wyoming, New Mexico, Idaho and Arizona.

And in June 2004, a female wolf from Yellowstone National Park was found dead along Interstate 70 near Idaho Springs in the state’s first documented siting since the species’ disappearance.

Because wolves can travel great distances, the Division of Wildlife formed the diverse Wolf Management Plan Working Group a year ago to develop a set of guidelines to deal with the animals once they cross the state line.

The group’s plan covers information and education, management, damage payments to ranchers for livestock predation, conservation and management of prey populations and funding management.

“If we have a few wolves coming in, how do we manage them?” Skiba said. “This plan looks at that early situation where we have just a few wolves in the state. Everybody in the group agreed to these recommendations, and some were hard to come to – there was a lot of discussion and hard negotiation.”

The working group and the Division of Wildlife have been touring the state this winter to gather public feedback on the plan.

“I think there is a lot of value to maintaining large predators in our ecosystem, and that’s worth some negative human impacts,” said Breckenridge’s Chris Eckelat a recent meeting on the proposal. “My background is in parks and recreation management. So, from a personal and a professional standpoint, what gets adopted will affect me and the quality of life and recreation in Colorado.”

Skiba said some ecosystems in the Yellowstone area have benefited from wolf reintroduction by controlling deer and elk populations, but Colorado’s landscape and climate are different enough to make it difficult to predict wolves’ potential effects.

Dalin Tidwell, a sportsman from north of Idaho Springs, also weighed in at a recent meeting.

“I have family and friends with livestock,” Tidwell said. “The major issue for me is that they can control an individual (wolf) that causes problems. The ones that can get along are OK with me.”

The group will continue to take public comment on the wolf management plan until March 4. The Colorado Wildlife Commission is expected to make a final decision on the plan in May.

A recent twist in the process occurred three weeks ago when a federal district court upped the level of federal protection for wolves in Colorado and other areas. Previously, wolves were considered only to be “threatened” north of I-70. Under the new ruling, wolves throughout the entire state have the highest level of federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.

So, the state wolf management plan would only take effect once the wolf is no longer considered endangered.

==========================================

Wild ideas

How to comment on Colorado’s wolf management proposal:

ý Electronically: www2.merid.org/graywolf/comments.php

ý Fax: (970) 513-8348

ý Mail: Meridian Institute, Attn: Wolf Comments, P.O. Box 1829, Dillon, CO 80435

The plan can be viewed online at www2.merid.org/graywolf

==========================================

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Feb 26

SC: Wolves leaving Bull Island

Wolves leaving Bull Island

S.C. program for
breeding red wolves
is being stopped

A red-wolf breeding program that has been a cornerstone of federal efforts to save the species will be shut down at Bull Island after nearly two decades.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the announcement Friday, saying the wolf population has recovered enough to end the program at the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.Two pups at Bull Island will be moved to the government’s main recovery site in North Carolina.

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Feb 25

AK: Trapper kills Denali wolf pack’s alpha female

Trapper kills Denali wolf pack’s alpha female

By MARY PEMBERTON
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The alpha female in the Toklat wolf pack, which has delighted visitors to Denali National Park and Preserve for years, was killed by a trapper outside park boundaries.

Gordon Haber, an independent wildlife scientist who has studied the pack for 40 years, said the radio-collared wolf was killed Feb. 11 by a trapper on state land on the Savage River within a few hundred feet of the park’s northeast boundary and on the outside edge of a wolf buffer zone created in 2001.

“This is a very serious loss,” Haber said Friday. “A loss from a scientific standpoint and also from the standpoint of the many of thousands of people that come to Denali every year and look forward to seeing these wolves.”

Haber, whose work is funded by Connecticut-based Friends of Animals, said he and a pilot were on a routine tracking flight in the park when they heard the Toklat female’s radio collar signal and followed it. They watched as the trapper, who he identified as Coke Wallace, and his partner removed the wolf and loaded her onto a snowmobile sled to be taken to Wallace’s home about 12 miles away.

Wallace did not immediately return a call for comment.

Haber reported the wolf kill to the National Park Service. An Alaska State Trooper later determined that the trapping site was legal and just outside the wolf buffer zone.

Haber said the 10 remaining wolves in the Toklat wolf pack, including the dead wolf’s mate and eight young produced in 2003 and 2004, went almost straightaway to the group’s den 13 miles away. The pack also includes an unrelated female that joined up last summer.

Denning this time of year is unusual, Haber said, and was likely an indication of confusion and stress within the pack.

Haber returned to the area the next day and saw the pack headed to the trapping area again. Once there, the alpha male headed to a ridge and howled repeatedly.

“The next day they came right back to the trapping area again, with the alpha male leading… call-howling his mate,” he said.

It is likely the remaining wolves will continue to return to the area between now and the end of trapping season April 30.

Haber said he tried to convince Wallace to remove his traps but was not successful.

“They want to keep coming back,” Haber said. “Obviously, the male is still looking for his mate.”

Haber sent a letter Feb. 17 to Wayne Regelin, the acting commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game, and Mike Fleagle, chairman of the Board of Game, asking for an emergency closure of hunting and trapping in the area until the end of trapping season.

Haber said he has not yet received a response.

While the federal park won’t call for the closure itself, it would support such a measure, said Philip Hooge, the park’s assistant superintendent for resources. The pack not only is important to park visitors but has been the focus of lengthy research, Hooge said.

Last summer, dozens of people received a special thrill as they saw the pack kill a caribou, he said.

“The park would be supportive of a closure in that area,” Hooge said.

Haber and wildlife biologist Vic Van Ballenberghe, a former game board member, said the wolves need expanded buffer zones around the park. There are about 75 wolves in the park. The Toklat pack could go back as far as the late 1930s, Haber said.

Haber recommended establishing a 600-square mile buffer zone that would wrap around the north and northeast corners of the park and extend down the side. He said the buffer zone is needed because the area, which is rich in moose and caribou, attracts hungry wolf packs from 70 to 80 miles away.

The existing buffer zone covers only about half of the area where the wolves spend the winter, Haber said.

Van Ballenberghe said the death of the alpha female, who was probably 6 or 7 years old, means that the pack may not produce pups this year. If they don’t produce young, they won’t use their dens near the park road and probably won’t be seen as much by park visitors.

“These wolves are valuable assets to the park,” Van Ballenberghe said. “It is one of the few places in the world where you can actually stand a good chance of seeing a wild wolf.”

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Feb 24

Wolves attack injured horse on Round Lake area farm

Wolves attack injured horse on Round Lake area farm

Terrell Boettcher

A draft horse which has pulled many buggyloads of visitors through the streets of Hayward was fatally injured in an attack by timber wolves last week on a farm in the town of Round Lake.

Jim Henchel is the owner of the white 24-year-old Percheron mare named Mae. The horse is one of several he uses to give tourists rides in downtown Hayward during the summer. She also appeared in parades.

Henchel said that on Tuesday night, Feb. 15, the horse had fallen on ice in a pasture near his home on Farnsworth Road, off the Twin Lakes Road near Upper Twin Lake.

When Henchel checked his horses the next day, he noticed that Mae was down and could not get up. He got the horse up and walked her around a little bit. But she didnýt want to walk too far because she was bruised and was scared of the ice, he said.

Henchel took her some hay and water, and decided to bed her down in the field for the night.

About 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, Henchel ýheard her (the horse) scream and then I heard the attack going on,ý he said. ýIt was 200 feet from the house.ý

Henchel went out and found the horse hamstrung and unable to get up. The wolves (Henchel believes there were two) also had attacked the horseýs throat. Henchel said he had to put the horse down due to its injuries.

Henchel notified the DNR and the federal APHIS office out of Park Falls, which handles wildlife depredation complaints. They responded and verified from tracks that the horse had been attacked by wolves. Henchel filed a $1,000 claim with APHIS (U.S. Department of Agricultureýs Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service).

The DNR and APHIS believe the wolves were passing through the area, Henchel said. They think the wolves considered the injured horse ýan opportune kill, a chance for a quick snack.ý The wolves were not wearing radio collars.

Henchel said that the wolves have returned to the same site three times since the horse was attacked. ýWeýve seen wolves out here quite a bit the last two years,ý Henchel added.

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Feb 24

MT: Senate OKs bill calling for more radio-collared wolves

Senate OKs bill calling for more radio-collared wolves

By SCOTT McMILLION, Chronicle Staff Writer

The Montana Senate has passed a bill that would require state officials to capture and radio collar more wolves.

Senate Bill 461 passed by a wide margin and is now awaiting action in the House.

The bill would require the state spend about $25,000 the first year for equipment and personnel to monitor collared wolves.

The bill’s sponsor, Bill Steinbeisser, R-Sydney, said he introduced the measure at the request of the Montana Farm Bureau.

The bill was “drafted incorrectly” in its original form, and called for the Montana Department of Livestock to run the wolf-collaring program, Nancy Schlepp, a Farm Bureau lobbyist, said.

It also called for DOL to sell wolf hides to defray expenses, but that would have violated the federal Endangered Species Act.

The bill has since been amended to give the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks the responsibility and to focus efforts on areas where depredations on livestock are “chronic or likely.”

“With the amendments, we have no problems” with the bill, said FWP chief of staff Chris Smith.

Montana has about 40 wolf packs, which are defined as “two or more animals running together,” Smith said.

Of those packs, about 20 are in areas where trouble with livestock is more likely, he said, and 15 of the packs already have a collared animal among them.

Most of the collaring would focus on southwest Montana river drainages or spots in northwest Montana where attacks on livestock have been more common.

All expenses would be paid for with federal wolf program money.

Collared wolves are sometimes called “Judas” animals because their collars can lead shooters or trappers to the rest of the pack, making it easier to find animals that have been attacking livestock.

A change in federal rules recently gave Montana and Idaho, along with ranchers, more leeway to kill wolves that attack livestock.

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Feb 24

CT: ‘Threatened’ gray wolf sighting reported

‘Threatened’ gray wolf sighting reported

JAMIE PRESTON OLMSTEAD, Register Citizen Staff

TORRINGTON — Two city businessmen were stopped dead in their tracks late Wednesday morning when what appeared to them to be a large gray wolf crossed their paths while driving through the Torringford region of Torrington.

Peter Ledda and Pepe Lopez were cruising through a typically quiet industrial park as a test run for Lopezý Class A driverýs license when the pair spotted the canine.

“It was pretty intense,” Lopez said. “We didnýt believe it ourselves, but it was definitely a wolf.”

The wolf, Ledda and Lopez said, emerged from the woods before apprehensively crossing in front of their dump truck. After looking up and down the nearly empty street, the wolf headed south across the asphalt and reentered the woods.

The gray wolf, a pack animal indigenous to North America and Europe, is commonly mistaken for a Siberian Husky, German Shepherd, or even a coyote.

But Ledda and Lopez both insist that the animal in question was indeed a gray wolf.

“Iýve worked outside my whole life, and Iýve seen just about every type of animal there is,” said Ledda, owner of Peter M. Ledda Landscape Development on Highland Lake Road.

Unlike coyotes, which are known for their scraggly gray coats, gray wolves range in color from black, gray and rust to white. They usually have a large muzzle, massive long legs, extremely large feet and thick coats.

“He looked like he was in good shape,” Lopez said. “He had a nice, big tail, and probably weighed between 120 and 130 pounds.”

While the gray wolf is commonplace in the western United States – gray wolf populations number close to 2,500 in Minnesota and nearly 10,000 in Alaska – local wolf sightings are rare, and are typically attributed to the large number of coyotes residing in Connecticut.

“Over the years, we have had areas where there are more reports or more problems with them in certain places,” Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Wildlife Biologist Paul Rego said. “It seems to happen particularly where there are coyotes living in developed areas that include open space as part of their territory.”

Early Connecticut settlers often mistook coyotes for wolves – an easy error considering the large local coyote populations.

“We estimate there are roughly around 4,000 to 5,000 coyotes in Connecticut and the population is close to stable,” Rego said. “Theyýve been here a long time.”

The gray wolf was downgraded in 2003 from “endangered” to “threatened” on the U.S. Endangered Species List. An increase in wolf populations, due largely to the Endangered Species Act and the large deer population, have aided the animalýs comeback.

Killing wolves is considered a federal offense, and offenders can face fines of $25,000.

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Feb 23

MI LP: Otsego County wolf sightings? DNR can’t confirm

Otsego County wolf sightings? DNR can’t confirm

OTSEGO COUNTY – While there have been several reports of wolf sightings in Otsego County, Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife habitat biologist Brian Mastenbrook has not been able to confirm the actual presence of a wolf.

“One caller reported seeing a wolf over by the Christian radio station,” on South Townline Road reported Mastenbrook, who will be conducting a two-week wolf survey which began Monday. “The call was timely and I was able to get to the reported location quickly, but the animal turned out to be a dog.”

Mastenbrook requests those who feel they have spotted a wolf to contact the DNR immediately and try to preserve any physical evidence of the sighting. “Footprints can tell us a lot about an animal,” stated Mastenbrook. “By placing a can over the print to keep it out of the elements, we can confirm the sighting and get an idea of the size of the wolf.”

According to Mastenbrook, there have been three confirmed reports of wolves in Presque Isle County.

Wolves began naturally returning to the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.) via Canada and Wisconsin in the early 1990s. Today, the U.P. is home to at least 360 wolves. Following the accidental killing of a wolf in Presque Isle County last fall, the DNR has confirmed at least three other gray wolves have moved from the U.P. into the northern Lower Peninsula.

The 70-pound female wolf mistakenly killed by a coyote trapper in October came from a pack in the eastern U.P. The wolf was wearing a DNR tracking collar. Prior to that incident, the last recorded wolf in the Lower Peninsula was in 1910.

Mastenbrook said the survey will be conducted north of M-32 in nine priority areas, each between 200 and 400 square miles in size. Similar to techniques used by DNR biologists in the U.P., survey teams will drive along roads and trails looking for wolf tracks. Given the extremely low numbers of wolves in this part of the state and the low probability that tracks will be found, public reports will be very important in helping the DNR identify potential wolf locations.

To report a wolf sighting contact Lynn Carter-Yoder with the DNR, 732-3541 ext. 5901.

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Feb 23

Australia: Look out for a dingo on the lam

Look out for a dingo on the lam

Phil Luciano
NEWS COLUMNIST

If this newspaper were a tabloid, the headline for this column would scream, “HIDE YOUR BABIES!”

That’s because pop-culture lore holds that dingos will snarf your kids while you’re not looking. Brace yourself: A dingo is on the loose in – where else? – Pekin.

This is just the latest all-points-bulletin from Luciano’s Critter Central. Lately, reports have ranged from housebound alligators to shadowy cougars to backyard tigers.

One recent dispatch involved a giant iguana (4 feet long) that waddled away from its home in Pekin. I haven’t heard anything lately about the iguana.

Maybe it’s hanging out with the dingo.

You don’t often see dingos around here, chiefly because they’re known mostly as a wild dog in their native Australia, which is a long way from Pekin.

And it’s the Land Down Under that spawned the legend of the dingo as a vicious, stealthy baby-snatcher.

In 1980, a 2-month-old girl vanished during a family camping trip. The parents claimed a dingo had slipped into their tent, grabbed the child from her bassinet and dashed away.

Police were skeptical. Dingos were not known to attack people.

Though carnivorous and part of the wolf family, the wild dingo weighs just 30 pounds. It generally stays away from humans, even small ones.

So, in a trial that garnered insane, O.J./Michael Jackson-style attention in Australia, her parents were convicted of her murder.

Later, though, the verdicts were overturned. A new inquest was inconclusive as to the child’s death.

Last summer, a Melbourne old-timer came forward. He claimed to have shot a dingo in 1980 and found a baby in its mouth.

Anyway, since the trial, the dingo has endured a bad rap. A Meryl Streep movie called “Evil Eyes” offered the offbeat catchphrase, “A dingo ate my baby!” – which later exploded into cult status.

“Seinfeld,” “The Simpsons” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” have played off the line. So, though few people know anything about the dingo, they know better than to leave their babies unattended should one slink by.

Right?

Hardly, says Ray Knollenberg. His best four-legged friend is a dingo named Brandy.

“She’s really a sweet dog,” says Knollenberg, 29.

He and his wife live on Koch Street in Pekin. So does Brandy, who has the run of the house.

It’s also home to a couple of Blue Heelers (a mid-size dog that herds cattle in Australia), a rabbit and a few fish.

“We’re not breeders,” Knollenberg says. “We just like pets.”

He’s not sure of Brandy’s origins. But 14 years ago, a friend was moving out of town and couldn’t take 1-year-old Brandy.

So Knollenberg took in the 30-pounder.

“I didn’t get any papers or anything,” he says.

The American Kennel Club doesn’t recognize the dingo. Though Illinois outlaws wolves as pets, the dingo isn’t regulated by federal, state or local laws.

But various Internet sources indicate the wild dingo can be domesticated, as long as it spends time with people from birth. Otherwise, it doesn’t take well to captivity.

“We’ve never had any problems,” he says. “She has a good temperament.”

A dingo kind of looks like a small German shepherd, but with a shorter snout. Dingos don’t bark, and they have distinctive, Spock-like ears that always point straight up.

There’s an America relative (also not AKC recognized) known as The Dixie Dingo, a hunting dog common to Carolina swamps. But it’s a bit bigger than the wild dingo, about 40 to 60 pounds, with a leaner look.

Though wild dingos hunt small prey, Brandy eats Alpo. She’s so domesticated, she usually prefers to stay indoors.

But on Feb. 13, while Knollenberg was caring for the other dogs, Brandy wanted to go outside. So he staked her long leash in the front yard.

A while later, Knollenberg looked outside to see Brandy four blocks away, and making more distance. She’d slipped out of her collar, and Knollenberg couldn’t catch up to her.

He’s not sure why Brandy would bolt like that. Though she seemed to be in good health for a 15-year-old dog, perhaps she knew something instinctively.

“Sometimes, when dogs get older, they don’t want their master to see them get sick,” Knollenberg says.

He and his wife have scoured the streets for Brandy and put up fliers with their phone number (353-3117). But they’ve received not a nibble of news.

“All we can pray for is someone has taken her in and is feeding her,” Knollenberg says.

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Feb 23

NY: Howling for love

Howling for love

By MERYL HYMAN HARRIS
THE JOURNAL NEWS

With any luck at all, next week will bring love, or something like it, to the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem.

That’s when a rare red male from Rhode Island is to be introduced to an unnamed red female in residence. The red male was one of a dozen federally owned animals, bred in captivity, to arrive at the center within the past two months. This is to be the center’s first attempt at breeding since it was founded in 1999 by pianist Helen Grimaud and photographer J. Henry Fair.

Ultimately, the hope is that some of the animals at the center will be judged by federal authorities to be sufficiently wary of people and genetically diverse for release into the West and the Southeast. One Mexican gray wolf has already been chosen.

“We’re not interested in exhibits or building a collection. We want to see them go out and do what they do in the world,” said Barry Braden, the group’s managing director. Ultimately, he hopes the wolves will recover their numbers to the point that they need not be kept in captivity. “We hope that in 20 years, we are obsolete,” he said.

There are fewer than 300 red and 300 Mexican gray wolves left in the world, though that is reason for optimism. The reds were hunted down to 14, the Mexican grays to seven just decades ago. The idea now is to build them up so that some 250 of each are kept in captivity. That will be a sufficient pool from which to select animals for future release.

In the meantime, the center’s lupine residents dine on rare road kill venison from Lewisboro, North Salem, Ridgefield, Pound Ridge and other places nearby, and on fine filet mignon and other cooked unserved entrees from Le Chateau restaurant down the street.

The wolves that have been there the longest ý the “ambassadors’ that travel to schools and meet the public for educational programs at the center ý nosh on pig ears and romp to the delight of families who stop by for a look (no petting!) through the eight-foot fences while learning the basics of wolf behavior and biological benefits from Operations Manager Mike Clough and other staff.

Some 35 visitors yesterday learned to watch the height of the tails of the four ambassadors to determine who was alpha, or top dog. In fact, that was Apache, with Lucas, Atka, and Kaila following.

They learned, too, that when wolves were brought back to Yellowstone National Park, the overabundance of elk was reduced, the trees they had ravished restored, and the number of trout, birds, otters and other animals increased.

Matt Karph, 10, of Purchase, said he, like many of the children present, was most impressed by the howling ý the wolves’, not the people’s, though there was plenty of both. The wolves howled back at the people, howled at each other, howled at what appeared to be nothing at all. “It sounds like a fire engine,” Matt said. “It’s amazing because they talk to each other.’

With school off for winter vacation, Mahopac earth science teacher Rob D’Alessandro brought his son, Justin, for a little extracurricular education. “We know he is interested in wolves,” he said. “Any time you can deal with a specific species, it’s a great way to teach kids,” who are, after all, the next generation of nature’s caretakers.

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