Lawsuit Launched to Push Trump Administration Toward National Wolf Recovery Plan by Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 19, 2018

Contact: Collette Adkins, (651) 955-3821,

The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for violating the Endangered Species Act by never providing a comprehensive recovery plan for gray wolves nationwide as the law requires.

Today’s notice calls for a national wolf recovery plan. According to the Endangered Species Act, wolves must remain protected until the Fish and Wildlife Service implements such a plan.

Instead, this summer the agency announced plans to strip federal protection from wolves in the lower 48 states. That would make them vulnerable to trophy hunting and trapping, halting their progress toward recovery. The Service expects to publish a proposal to remove wolf protection by the end of the calendar year.

“With federal protections gray wolves have made tremendous progress, but they’re not yet recovered nationwide,” said Collette Adkins, a Minneapolis-based Center biologist and attorney. “If successful, our lawsuit would require the federal government to foster wolf populations in suitable areas across the country rather than rush to prematurely remove safeguards.”

A recovery plan would enable wolves to establish viable populations in areas where small populations are still recovering, including California, Oregon and Washington.
It would also promote recovery in areas like the southern Rockies, Dakotas and Adirondacks, which have suitable wolf habitat but no wolf populations.

The notice explains that the Service previously denied the Center’s formal petition requesting development of a national wolf recovery plan.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service needs to chart a path toward truly recovering wolves,” said Adkins. “We’re doing all we can to make sure Trump officials fulfill their obligation to restore wolves in suitable habitats across the country.”

Beyond a national plan for recovery, the Endangered Species Act requires the agency to conduct a status review every five years. But six years have passed since the last national wolf status review.


AHS Releases New Canine Heartworm Guidelines

September 14, 2018. American Veterinarian By Maureen McKinney

Today, the American Heartworm Society (AHS) released a revised version of its highly regarded canine heartworm guidelines—the first update since 2014. Reducing disease transmission, clarifying testing recommendations, and avoiding treatment shortcuts are priorities in the new guidelines. Based on the 2016 Triennial Symposium of the AHS, as well as new research and clinical experience, major changes to the guidelines include the following.

Heartworm Prevention: Use of Mosquito Repellents
According to Dr. Rehm, the incidence of heartworm disease in the United States and its territories rose by 21% between 2013 and 2016. Prevention is the cornerstone of any practice’s heartworm management program, yet compliance continues to be problematic and is believed to be 1 of the key roadblocks to reducing incidence rates.

“Right now, roughly two-thirds of pets are not on prevention,” Dr. Rehm said in a previous interview with American Veterinarian®. “Sometimes I think we take for granted that our clients know more about it or have some more parasite common sense, if you will, than they actually do. And we don’t probe enough to find out where our clients are on the learning curve about parasite prevention.”


Year-round use of macrocyclic lactone (ML) preventives and environmental control of mosquito populations continue to be the basis of prevention, but AHS now recommends the use of Environmental Protection Agency–approved mosquito repellents/ectoparasiticides to control the mosquito vector and reduce heartworm transmission in high-risk areas.

“The use of repellents is not a blanket recommendation, nor should repellents ever be used in place of ML preventives,” Dr. Rehm said. “In regions with relatively low heartworm incidence numbers and few mosquitoes, use of heartworm preventives alone can be sufficient to safeguard patients.”

Heartworm Testing: Putting Heat Treatment in Perspective
heartwormAHS continues to recommend annual heartworm screening for all dogs over 7 months of age with both an antigen and a microfilaria test. Because of the high sensitivity of these tests, however, the guidelines recommend against routine heat treatment of blood samples for heartworm screening because “it is contrary to the label instructions for commonly used in-house tests and may interfere with the accuracy of results of not only heartworm testing but also the results of combination tests that include antibody detection of other infectious agents.”

Instead, the guidelines recommend that veterinarians consider heat treating serum when circulating microfilariae are detected or when active clinical disease is suspected but an antigen test has returned a negative result.

Heartworm Treatment: Use of Non-Arsenical Protocols
While no changes were made regarding the best treatments for canine heartworm, AHS is using the updated guidelines to double-down on its stance that the society’s current protocol remains the best method for successfully and safely treating infected dogs.

“We get questions from veterinarians about the AHS protocol itself, which includes pretreatment with an ML and doxycycline, followed by a month-long waiting period, then 3 doses of melarsomine on days 60, 90 and 91,” Dr. Rehm explained. “Heartworm disease is a complex disease, and there are no shortcuts to appropriate treatment. Skipping any 1 of these steps can affect both the safety and efficacy of heartworm treatment.”

For dogs that are not candidates for melarsomine treatment, Dr. Rehm noted, alternatives such as the non-arsenical combination of moxidectin and doxycycline may be appropriate.  “However, it’s also important for veterinarians to understand that these non-arsenical protocols have serious disadvantages, the most important of which is the length of time required to kill adult worms, during which time heartworm pathology and damage can progress,” he said. “This also greatly increases the length of time the pet needs strict exercise restriction, which is problematic.”

To view the updated guidelines, as well as the AHS feline heartworm guidelines, visit

WOLF WEEK: Wolves to be reintroduced on Lake Superior’s Isle Royale

Isle Royale sits like a gem in a cold ring of Lake Superior water some 15 miles off the shore of Grand Portage, Minnesota.  Its isolation has been the island’s preservation. Today, as a national park, the 210-square mile island is not much different than when Norwegian fisherman built the first fish camps on its shores in the mid-1800’s.

A balance between life and death, predator and prey, has kept this island in check since the 1940’s. Ice bridges during the cold winter months enabled the first grey wolves to find the island 75 years ago. Those wolves stayed and, for the most part, flourished, living off the abundant moose population.

Over the decades, the predator and prey populations ebbed and flowed in a forest ecosystem that worked. Scientists studied it, but for the most part, they stayed out of it.

Then, the ice bridges stopped forming and the wolves – after their population peaked at 50 – started dying. Canine parvovirus took many; wolves killing other wolves took some. At times, the wolves were dying at an alarming rate, while the moose, with fewer canines to bring them down, grew in relatively unchecked numbers.

Today, upwards of 2,000 moose roam Isle Royale. With only two non-breeding wolves left to hunt them, the National Park service decided humans will step in and alter the course of nature before it’s too late.

The predator-prey balance on Isle Royale has already clearly changed. For Rolf Peterson, who has spent 50 years of his life out here studying that dynamic, and with the moose population trending up rapidly, doing nothing in this national park would be disastrous for its ecosystem.

Peterson was 22 years old, just a graduate student, when he first stepped foot on Isle Royale. There is not a trail, nor a bit of shoreline he does not know, Now, he is known around the world for his wolf and moose research conducted on the island annually.

No one knows more about the connection between a healthy wolf population, a healthy moose population and a healthy island than Peterson does.

“The main issue here is there’s a moose population that’s like a runaway freight train right now,” Peterson said. “And if we let it run away, it will be to the detriment of the entire national park.”

Had the park service chosen a hands-off approach to the island, Peterson and other biologists believe that runaway moose population would devastate the park’s dominate balsam fir forests. It is the favorite food of moose. Over-grazing means the forests would eventually be replaced with a barren spruce and grass environment, but adding more wolves back into the mix means fewer moose and balance on the island once again.

The decision to drop wolves back on the island did not come easy. It means interrupting the relative “do not touch” scientific philosophy of this particular national park.

Among those with concerns is Dr. David Mech, a premier expert on wolf behavior. Mech pioneered the wolf-moose study on Isle Royale 60 years ago.

“To be done right, it’s going to take quite a bit of thought and consideration,” Mech said.

Mech said he would like to see a committee of wolf and moose biologists thoughtfully and carefully plan the re-introduction.

“Is the primary objective going to be to bring the wolf population to the point where it real quickly stops the moose population from increasing?” Mech said. “Or, is it going to be just establish a basic wolf population out there? Or is it going to be an experiment? I’d like to see it be an experiment.”

Ironically, it was Peterson that Mech helped guide into the prey-predator study and onto Isle Royale in the early 1970’s. Now, almost 50 years later, Peterson has no doubts about reintroduction.

“[Isle Royale] has a future, basically, a future as a dynamic wolf-moose forest system, whereas without wolves here, it had no future,” Peterson said. “It would be just a runaway moose population that would basically trash the place as only a huge herbivore can do.”

With the debate now over, wolves, likely from Minnesota, will once again dominate the food chain on Isle Royale.

“Nature’s way” will start all over again on the island—a delicate balance under the watchful eye of humans, with a new precedent of stepping in when the balance tips one way or the other.

UW study questions effectiveness of killing wolves to protect livestock

Chuck Quirmbach   Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin researchers issued a paper Wednesday that questions whether governments should kill wolves that are attacking livestock.  Scientists at the Carnivore Coexistence Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies looked at 230 verified wolf attacks on livestock in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan from 1998 through 2014.


The study concludes that in the 31 cases government wildlife specialists killed the so-called “problem wolves” that did not reduce the risk of attacks on livestock more than non-lethal means, such as hazing or scaring wolves, or trapping and relocating them.

Lead author Francisco Santiago-Avila said killing wolves may create an elevated risk of attacks on livestock at neighboring farms.

“And this risk is similar in magnitude to the reduced risk at the initial site. So, the effects offset each other to the point where you get no benefit of killing wolves,” Santiago-Avila said.

He adds that the scientists’ theory is that if a predator wolf is killed, others in the wolf pack disperse, “and when you break that family unit, those wolves may just go for easier prey, and that means livestock in a lot of ways.”

Santiago-Avila recommends governments help farmers make more use of guard dogs to protect livestock, or hang strips of colored fabric on a rope to deter wolves from crossing fences — a technique called fladry.

As long as the gray wolf in the western Great Lakes region is on the federal endangered species list, only government specialists can kill problem wolves.

Santiago-Avila and his graduate studies professor, Adrian Treves, say they regard their conclusions as preliminary. The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians in Michigan collaborated with UW-Madison on the study.

The paper is published in the peer-reviewed online journal PLOS ONE.

The Life of Beloved Wolf O-6, and the Politics Surrounding Her Life and Death

By in 40 Acres on January 1, 2018

She is charismatic and intelligent. Fierce but merciful, she’s both a fighter and a loving mother. The focus of Nate Blakeslee’s latest nonfiction book, she isn’t the typical protagonist though—she’s a wolf.

O-Six is an alpha female named after her birth year. She was called “the most famous wolf in the world” by The New York Times after she began attracting wolf-watchers to her home in Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Valley. Wolves were reintroduced to the park in 1995, which sparked controversy among hunters, ranchers, and environmentalists alike. A journalist who typically writes about politics, Blakeslee was drawn to the debate, and in 2012, when a hunter legally shot and killed the beloved O-Six, he’d found his story. He would write about this political hotbed through the life of the wolf itself.

In American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West, award-winning journalist Blakeslee, MA ’96, cinematically chronicles O-Six’s life, and gives voice to the hunters and conservationists on opposite sides of the debate. Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company Appian Way has already snatched up the film rights.

Can you explain the controversy surrounding wolves?

It’s been going on forever. The reason they were hunted out to begin with in the late 19th century is partly for their fur, but also because they were a threat to the ranching business, and the ranching business was so powerful there. It continues to be to this day. The descendants of those ranchers that hunted out the wolves in the 19th century are all still there. Also, elk hunting is big business in the northern Rockies, and wolves eat a lot of elk. People that make a living from guiding hunts or running motels that rely on hunters were very much against reintroduction.
But this has been going on so long in the West now that where you stand on wolves as a politician in the West has become kind of a litmus test. The rhetoric around the issue has gotten so divorced from the actual impact of wolves. You bash wolves and by extension you bash the federal government, which reintroduced wolves. That’s very popular in politics in the West now, to be against overreaching federal bureaucrats.

When did you learn about O-Six’s story?

About 10 years ago I took a wolf watching class in Yellowstone. When I was up there, I didn’t see O-Six, but I met some of the people who would become characters in the book, like Rick McIntyre, who works for the park service. He’s like Yellowstone’s wolf guru, and I talked to him about maybe doing a magazine profile, but I could never really figure out the right way to tell the whole story about the reintroduction of wolves and what an amazing success it was, but at the same time, how politically controversial it was. By then, the fight was over whether or not wolves should be hunted in the northern Rockies. Then in The New York Times, I read the story of O-Six, the most famous wolf in Yellowstone and what had happened to her, and that seemed like the best way to tell the story: through the lens of one famous wolf’s life.

When did you realize the story would work best as a book?

It’s just such a rich story. I really wanted it to read like a true-life Jack London story in which the characters were animals. That was possible because O-Six was seen by probably more than a million people watching on the roadside in Yellowstone. But more importantly she was watched on a daily basis by this much smaller group of die-hard wolf aficionados. I met one of them. Her name is Laurie Lyman. She’s a retired school teacher from San Diego, and she gave me this treasure trove: 2,400 pages of notes she had taken on O-Six and her family. It was like the diary of a wolf pack, and it provided all the raw material you would need to reconstruct their life with the kind of detail and the kind of intimacy you would expect in a novel.

What made O-Six so special?

She was the wolf that was most visible in the park during a time when wolf watching had become very popular. She happened to come into her own at the time Facebook was really exploding, so her image and her story were informally passed around everywhere. She went viral.

Rick McIntyre is another figure in the book. Why did you choose him?

He is one of the most genuinely eccentric people I’ve ever met. He’s absolutely obsessed with wolves. He’s in his mid-60s. He’s unmarried. He basically lives in the park. He spent 15 years without missing a day of watching wolves. He essentially considers wolves to be his family. Any wolf that you spot at the roadside with Rick, he can tell you that wolf’s lineage. He can tell you its personality. He’s an interpretive ranger, so his job is to sort of help visitors understand what they’re seeing. He, more than anyone else, is the reason that there is this phenomenon of wolf watching in the park. He was the person who first helped visitors find wolves. More than just telling people what to eat or how old they are, he really loves to tell stories about them because that was what matters to him. It made it just a much more rich experience, watching wolves in the park, if Rick was there.

How is this book different from your last book, which discusses the police corruption scandal in the Texas Panhandle?

It’s still a book about the intersection of politics and policy. That’s what’s interesting to me. We think about wildlife management as a science, and in some ways it is, but it’s also very political. Wolves are extremely controversial. The rise of humans parallels the decline of wolves. They were once the most widely distributed land mammal on the planet, and now we are. Every gain that humans have made has come at the expense of wolves. I was really fascinated by that idea, that this was a lens through which you could look at the history of the northern hemisphere over the last 500 years or so, this battle between the two most dominant species.

You were able to talk with the hunter who killed O-Six. What was that like?

I wanted to have a wolf-hunter’s perspective because you want to know how both sides of this issue see the world. And they do see the world very differently. And so finding him was a real breakthrough. He’s kept his name out of the papers for obvious reasons. He wanted to avoid that backlash. It’s actually against the law in the state of Wyoming for a public official to identify someone who shot a wolf because they know that it could turn into a Cecil the Lion situation. But he agreed to participate. He wanted his side of the story to be in there. All he really wanted was for his story to be told properly and respectfully.

What do you hope your book contributes to the debate surrounding wolves?

I hope that it helps unpack the difference between the rhetoric and the reality. It takes a clear-eyed look at what the impact of wolves has been on the northern Rockies and tries to separate out this issue of people trying to score points politically on the issue versus people actually trying to find solutions to the problems that do arise with respect to wolves. Secondly, the reason I wanted the book to tell a story of a wolf’s life, is because a wolf’s life is this amazing story of overcoming hardship and these amazing moments of empathy at the den. If we really knew what every wolf’s life was like, would we be so cavalier about shooting any one wolf?

A Tribute to 06 – The Famous Alpha Wolf – By Rick Lamplugh

The Yellowstone wolf called 06 was appreciated by thousands of visitors. In December of 2012 she was shot outside the park in Wyoming. This tribute celebrates her leadership and presents a way to honor her spirit. (Photo by Leo Leckie.) Rick Lamplugh writes to protect wildlife and preserve wildlands. His new book, Deep into Yellowstone: A Year’s Immersion in Grandeur and Controversy, is available signed from Rick at, or unsigned on Amazon: His best seller, In the Temple of Wolves, is available signed at, or unsigned on Amazon at


Reintroduction of wolves to Colorado is the topic of Dec. 7 Sierra Club meeting in Steamboat.

Gray wolves were eradicated from Colorado by the 1940s to protect domestic livestock, but groups like the Sierra Club are working to change public perception of wolves in hopes of reintroducing the animals to their former habitat. United States Fish and Wildlife Service has restored wolf populations to Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Arizona. Colorado is the last holdout. A few wolves have migrated into Colorado’s North and Middle Park, but the animals haven’t been officially reintroduced, largely due to continued opposition from livestock producers and hunting organizations.
At last spring’s Rio Blanco County Woolgrowers meeting, Justin Ewing, a trapper for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services office said, “It’s just a matter of time before we have an established wolf population here. The days of ‘no-wolves’ tunnel vision are over. They’re going to come, one way or another.”
If wolves are intentionally introduced, as they have been in other states, they can be managed if they cause trouble for livestock or humans, but if wolves migrate into Colorado, they are considered an endangered species and come under federal protection laws. Killing a wolf or any endangered species can result in criminal charges, a year in prison and fines up to $100,000 per offense, depending on circumstances and the discretion of federal authorities.
Reintroducing wolves in areas where ranching is prevalent doesn’t always end well for the wolves. The Wyoming Wolf Recovery 2016 annual report listed 243 confirmed wolf-kills of livestock, including 154 cattle, 88 sheep and one horse. In addition, 24 cattle, two sheep and one horse were injured by wolves but survived. As a result, wildlife managers killed 113 wolves that were confirmed to be attacking livestock. The state of Wyoming paid cattle and sheep producers $315,062 in compensation for livestock losses.
Pro-wolf activists believe western Colorado is the ideal habitat for wolves, due to the large populations of deer and elk. In Ewing’s opinion, the activists are interested in “natural control” of deer and elk rather than allowing human hunters to manage herd numbers, and said human safety when it comes to wolves “isn’t on the radar.”
In 2016, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission formally opposed the release of wolves in the state 7-4.
The Trappers Lake Sierra Club group, which serves Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties, is hosting an informational meeting about the benefits of reintroducing wolves to Colorado on Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. in the Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs, Colo. The meeting will include two short films, “Meet the Real Wolf” and “Canis Lupus Colorado,” followed by a discussion titled “Wolves in Colorado: Restoring the Balance,” led by Delia Malone, Sierra Club wildlife chair.
The films were produced by the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project, which states its mission as “to improve public understanding of gray wolf behavior, ecology and options for re-establishing the species in Colorado. The benchmark of our success: Wolves again roaming the snow-capped peaks, rim rock canyons and primeval forests of western Colorado.”

Senate Committee Pushes for Extinction of North Carolina’s Red Wolf – SAY NO!!!!!

MANTEO, N.C.— Tucked away in the Senate report accompanying yesterday’s funding bill for the Department of the Interior is a directive to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to “end the Red Wolf recovery program and declare the Red Wolf extinct.”

“Senate Republicans are trying to hammer a final nail in the coffin of the struggling red wolf recovery program,” said Perrin de Jong, staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It is morally reprehensible for Senator Murkowski and her committee to push for the extinction of North Carolina’s most treasured wild predator. Instead of giving up on the red wolf, Congress should fund recovery efforts, something lawmakers have cynically blocked time and time again.”

The science demonstrates that red wolves are still recoverable. A 2014 report by the nonpartisan Wildlife Management Institute concluded that recovery would require augmenting eastern North Carolina’s existing wild population of fewer than 45 red wolves with two additional wild populations and investing additional resources to build local support for red wolf recovery.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is currently developing a revised rule under the Endangered Species Act to redesign protections for the red wolf, and nearly all the public comments submitted to the agency this past summer support recovering the wild population in the southeastern United States.

“The red wolf is an iconic, local species that is part of North Carolina history,” said de Jong. “It’s not too late to save these wolves from extinction.”

The red wolf is the world’s most endangered canid and currently can only be found in five counties of North Carolina. Thanks to recovery efforts, red wolf populations peaked at 130 individuals in the mid-2000s. In recent years, due to illegal shootings and the failure of the Fish and Wildlife Service to properly address these illegal killings, the red wolf population has fallen to less than 45 red wolves existing in the wild. Captive-breeding facilities hold nearly 200 red wolves. Red wolves enjoy overwhelming public support from North Carolinians, including in the five eastern counties where they live.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species.

Dreaming of a National Wolf Recovery Plan – by Rick Lamplugh

As hunting and poaching reduce wolf populations, this wildlife advocate tries to stay optimistic by considering a national plan to INCREASE the number of wolves. Indie author Rick Lamplugh writes to protect wildlife and preserve wildlands. His new book, Deep into Yellowstone: A Year’s Immersion in Grandeur and Controversy, is available signed from Rick at, or unsigned on Amazon: His best seller, In the Temple of Wolves, is available signed at, or unsigned on Amazon at


Brookfield Zoo Wolf Released into Wild Found Healthy in New Mexico

A Mexican wolf pup born this spring at Brookfield Zoo and released into the wild as part of a species recovery program was tracked down in New Mexico and is healthy, the zoo announced this week.

In April, a wolf named Zana gave birth to a litter of five pups at the zoo. Days later, two of the pups – Connie and Dennis – were transferred to the den of the San Mateo wolf pack in New Mexico.

Their move was proposed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as part of a cross-fostering initiative, where young pups are transferred from their litter in captivity to another litter of similar age in the wild. The program aims to diversify the genetics of the species, which is the most endangered subspecies of wolf in the world.

Shortly after the cross-fostering effort began in 2015, a Mexican wolf born at Brookfield Zoo and released into the wild was found dead in western New Mexico. USFWS conducted an investigation but was unable to determine the exact cause of death, spokesperson John Bradley said.

The cross-fostering program has, however, had more positive outcomes.

Last year, two Mexican wolf pups born at Brookfield Zoo – Blaze and Brooke – were released into the wild in Arizona.

“We’ve had a couple definite successes where we’ve had a pup be found and then actually meet up with a female and start breeding,” Bradley said. “That is the real key to success, that they grow up to an age where they can breed and they breed with someone not in their immediately family.”

Last month, USFWS biologists located Connie in New Mexico and fitted her with a GPS radio collar before releasing her back into the wild to join her pack. Like all newborn wolf pups, Connie was too small to be equipped with the collar when she was released from the zoo shortly after birth.

Dennis, Connie’s brother, has not yet been located, but the biologists are hopeful that they will be able to locate and collar him during an upcoming annual census.

“The genetics of this particular animal – the Mexican gray wolf – is very narrow,” said Joan Daniels, curator of mammals at Brookfield Zoo, which participates in the recovery program. “So there’s not a lot of genetic diversity in the population. [Cross-fostering] is used to increase the number of pups in a litter or change out the genetics between two different litters.”

Mexican wolves were once common in the Southwest but were wiped out in the mid-1970s, with only a few of the animals remaining in Mexico. Starting in 1998, 11 Mexican wolves were reintroduced to the wild in Arizona after being bred in captivity.

Although their numbers have grown, there are still only about 300 Mexican wolves in captivity, and another 97 in the wild, according to the nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife.

In return for releasing Connie and Dennis, Brookfield Zoo received sibling pups Mateo and Springer from the wild. The zoo says they are thriving in their pack.

“I find them absolutely fascinating,” Daniels said of the wolves. “They are incredible parents, and the ability to see them here at the zoo has been wonderful because we get to experience them rearing their babies and watching them very tenderly take care of the puppies. They’re very protective of them.”

For several days after birth, Mexican wolf pups cannot hear, and their eyes remain closed, Daniels said. In the cross-fostering program, the wolf pups must be transferred to their new pack relatively soon after birth – before they have become too attached to their mothers.

“We let the mom bond and nurse with the puppies for a few days, and then we coordinate the cross-fostering within 10 days of birth,” Daniels said. “If you wait too long, their eyes open and it’s not as successful.”