Executive Director Virginia Busch’s message

Posted by on Dec 12, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Executive Director Virginia Busch’s message

(The message below from Executive Director Virginia Busch appears in the Endangered Wolf Center’s Winter 2016 Magazine. The current issue and previous issues are available on our website.)

Dear Friends of the Endangered Wolf Center,

I decided to get inspired while writing this article by going outside. Sitting with the warm sun on my face, a cool autumn breeze, birds singing and leaves rustling gives me a sense of clarity and calmness that I find difficult to obtain when at a desk under fluorescent lights.

I am saddened that as a society we have to label what once was an everyday activity for most of America’s children 30 years ago; going outside and digging in the dirt, making forts and catching lightning bugs is now called “nature play.”

The Endangered Wolf Center offers many opportunities to get back into nature. Our educational programs allow both adults and children to become intimate again with nature to heighten all five senses.

Year-end giving is upon us and I am delighted to rise to the challenge of a $50,000 matching grant generously offered by the Joanne Woodward Trust, Clea Newman Soderlund and the August A. Busch III Charitable Trust. Every dollar donated through the end of the year will be matched up to $50,000. This challenge grant marks a milestone for the Endangered Wolf Center as the largest in our history. As an organization that has experienced tremendous growth in the past three years, this grant symbolizes the faith that our stakeholders have in the continued success of the Center. (Update: The challenge grant was met.)

While our mission has always remained the same – to breed, reintroduce and educate – the educational component has become much more important in our fast-changing society. The Center has expanded all aspects of our education programming – tours, field trips, outreach, scout groups, distance learning and camp experiences – to focus on affecting change quickly. This increased effort ties in very nicely to what scientists and researchers already know as invaluable access to the outdoors and nature play. The benefits are boundless – increased focus in schoolwork, decrease in depression-related illnesses, increase in self esteem, overall sense of happiness, better conflict resolution and the list goes on. (Here are links to two insightful studies: Does Nature Make Us Happy? American Institutes for Research 2005 study.)

The Center is dedicated to continuing to expand our educational programing to all urban areas of St. Louis where nature relatedness is much needed. A large project we are focused on for 2017 is adding a new education/multipurpose building. This building will allow us to accommodate hundreds of programs and reach many more children in the metropolitan area. I invite you, our longstanding supporters, to contribute to our challenge grant. Year-end donations will support the operational cost of the Center and allow our staff to focus on raising the final funds to support a new educational building.

I wish each and every one of you a joyous and fulfilling Holiday Season. Thank you for your continued support of our great mission.

Virginia Busch
Executive Director

Meet Wild Earth Allies (formerly FFI Inc.)

Posted by on Nov 16, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Meet Wild Earth Allies (formerly FFI Inc.)

One of our great conservation partners has a new name: Wild Earth Allies. (It formerly was known as Fauna & Flora International Inc.)

Virginia Busch, Executive Director of the Endangered Wolf Center, is Vice Chairman of the organization’s Board. The group’s vision of “a world where wildlife flourishes in healthy ecosystems that sustain us all” is very much in sync with the Endangered Wolf Center’s goals.

With the new name, Wild Earth Allies must build its social media presence from scratch. Please like and share the Wild Earth Allies Facebook page and like and share it. And please follow them on Twitter.

Below is the text of a press release from Wild Earth Allies announcing its new name:

Fauna & Flora International, Inc. announces name change to Wild Earth Allies

U.S. non-profit builds on past successes while expanding global conservation work

CHEVY CHASE, Md., Nov. 16 – Fauna & Flora International Inc.* announced today that it is expanding under a new name — Wild Earth Allies — in response to opportunities to deepen its conservation work internationally and in the United States.

“We’re excited to build on our history while broadening the vital areas of the natural world we protect for the benefit of wildlife, habitats and people,” states Clea Newman Soderlund, Board Chairman.

“The name Wild Earth Allies signifies our vision of a world where wildlife flourishes in healthy ecosystems that sustain us all,” said Katie Frohardt, Executive Director. “We are committed to strengthening field-level conservation with high-performing partners globally.”

Wild Earth Allies will continue to pursue cutting edge initiatives to protect our planet’s biodiversity, with the same lean structure that helped it achieve the top rating as a 4-Star Charity Navigator organization for six consecutive years.

The new website,, features its signature initiatives to protect marine turtles, great apes and the Maya Golden Landscape in Belize ­­— all built on longstanding local partnerships. It also introduces new work protecting threatened trees in the United States, while increasing engagement in landscapes globally. Wild Earth Allies expects to expand the scope and reach of its programs in 2017.

“Wild Earth Allies will inspire the collaborative action that’s essential to leverage precious resources for wildlife and deliver a sustainable future for all of us,” says Virginia Busch, Board Vice Chairman.

*Fauna & Flora International Inc. was formerly the non-profit US partner of Fauna & Flora International, a UK charitable conservation organization.

$50,000 matching grant was met, thanks to you!

Posted by on Nov 11, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on $50,000 matching grant was met, thanks to you!

Because of your help, we met our biggest matching grant offer ever! The Joanne Woodward Fund with Clea Newman Soderlund and the August A. Busch III Charitable Trust had offered to match dollar-for-dollar all donations up to $50,000 through the end of last year. Thanks everyone, and a special thank you to our generous matching grant sponsors!

Cross-fostered pups surviving in the wild

Posted by on Oct 25, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Cross-fostered pups surviving in the wild

(This is an edited version of a news release issued jointly by the Endangered Wolf Center, the Chicago Zoological Society, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department. It contains information about the cross-fosters that was previously reported on the Endangered Wolf Center website and in the Center’s Summer 2016 Magazine.)


Albuquerque, New Mexico — In their native habitat of the southwestern United States, Mexican wolves are on the rise due to dedicated and collaborative efforts to cross-foster captive-born wolves into the wild by several agencies and organizations, including the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Missouri; the Arizona Game and Fish Department; the Chicago Zoological Society; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

The institutions this week announced evidence that cross-fostered pups are surviving in the wild.

On April 23, the Endangered Wolf Center flew two just-born critically endangered Mexican wolf pups to New Mexico to be cross-fostered by a wild pack. This historic collaborative effort between the Endangered Wolf Center staff and the USFWS represented the first time pups born in captivity were “adopted out” in this way. Two of those pups from a litter of six — m1461 and f1462 — made the long journey from St. Louis to New Mexico and were placed into the New Mexico based Sheepherder’s Baseball Park Pack.

A few days later, five Mexican wolf pups were born at Brookfield Zoo in Illinois and two of their pups — m1471 and f1472 — were placed in the den of the Arizona-based Elk Horn Pack of wild wolves.


These two Mexican wolf pups born in May 2016 at the Endangered Wolf Center were placed into the litter of the Arizona-based Panther Creek Pack. In October 2016,biologists detected evidence that at least one of the pups has survived.

In May, another litter of four Mexican wolf pups were born at the Endangered Wolf Center, and two of the pups — f1480 and f1481 — were placed in the den of the Arizona-based Panther Creek Pack.

All three wild dens were documented with five pups, and the addition of the captive born pups increased the total litter size of all three packs to seven each.

The goal of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program is to reintroduce the species to its native habitat, and biologists have developed this novel way of helping this effort. Cross-fostering is a technique where wolf puppies from one litter are placed with another litter. The wolf mother will adopt the additions as her own. Placing pups from captivity into a wild litter not only helps increase the population size in the wild but also helps increase genetic diversity. It is also a wonderful way to have wild parents (with an established territory and experience) raise and teach the pups how to survive.

Extreme terrain and logistics make it very challenging, and timing has to be just right. Wild and captive litters have to be born within a few days of one another, and the transfer from captivity to the wild has to occur before the pups are 10 days old. This means the wild den location needs to be known, a flight needs to be scheduled, perfect weather conditions need to exist and many other logistics need to be coordinated. All of these factors make the success of the efforts all the more remarkable.

On Sept. 18, 2016, the Mexican wolf Interagency Field Team (IFT) captured a male pup associated with the Elk Horn Pack. Genetic analysis done by the Laboratory for Ecological, Evolutionary and Conservation Genetics at the University of Idaho recently confirmed that the pup is m1471 (one of the cross-fostered pups). During the capture and handling, biologists gave the wolf a brief exam, administered vaccines, and fitted him with a radio collar, which will allow the IFT to track him and learn important information about the animal’s behavior, survival and dispersal, and will provide potential new pack formation in the future.

The ITF includes wildlife biologists from the Arizona Game and Fish Department, USFWS, U.S. Forest Service, White Mountain Apache Tribe and USDA Wildlife Services,

In October, IFT biologists also confirmed via trail camera photos that the Panther Creek Pack had a minimum of six pups. This indicates at least one cross-fostered pup — f1480 or f1481 — in that pack has survived.

IFT continues efforts to monitor and confirm pup survival in the Sheepherder’s Baseball Park Pack.

“It’s a long way from St. Louis to the recovery area, and the time-sensitive nature of fostering adds an extra layer of intensity. But seeing the pups safely into the wild — and learning now that they are not only surviving but thriving — makes the entire journey all the more remarkable,” said Regina Mossotti, Director of Animal Care and Conservation at the Endangered Wolf Center. “The Mexican wolf is vital to keeping the ecosystem healthy. I’m amazed that so many institutions could partner together to overcome all of the logistical challenges.”

“We are thrilled to hear that one of the pups was located and is doing well with his foster pack,” said Bill Zeigler, Senior Vice President of Animal Programs for the Chicago Zoological Society. “The success of the program is a true testament to the collaboration with our partners.”

“The support and partnership we have with the Brookfield Zoo and the Endangered Wolf Center is tremendous,” said Benjamin Tuggle, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Regional Director. “Survival of these pups increases the chances of improving the genetic health of the wild population.”

Another Mexican gray wolf with a link to the Endangered Wolf Center and the Brookfield Zoo also has been confirmed in the wild. In 2014, female wolf F1126, known as Ernesta — who was born at the Endangered Wolf Center in 2008, and then moved to Brookfield Zoo in 2010 — was released to the wild with a mate. Shortly after release the two got separated, possibly as a result of an encounter with an already existing pack. Alone, she gave birth in the wild to six pups. To help the survival of her puppies, two of them were cross-fostered into the Dark Canyon Pack. This wild-to-wild litter foster paved the way for the captive-to-wild foster. One of these puppies (now 2 years old), was recently identified as Ernesta’s son and appears to be paired with a female leading into the 2017 breeding season. (Following a re-release of Ernesta with a new mate and her four other pups, her body was found in early 2015. The cause of death for Ernesta is undetermined due to the condition of her remains, although illegal mortality is suspected.)

The Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program is a multi-agency collaboration between the USFWS, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the White Mountain Apache Tribe, the USDA Forest Service, and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service—Wildlife Services, several counties, as well as private organizations.

Mexican wolves are the most rare and most genetically distinct subspecies of North American gray wolves. The current population of the species in the captive breeding program is 243 individuals in 54 institutions. As of December 2015, a minimum of 97 Mexican gray wolves were living in the wild in the United States. This reintroduced population is now a naturally functioning wolf population.

About the Chicago Zoological Society

brookfieldThe mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located off First Avenue between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service. For further information, visit

About the Endangered Wolf Center

ewc_logo_locator_colorThe Endangered Wolf Center in St. Louis, Mo., is the premier wolf conservation, education, reproduction, and research center in the United States. Its mission is to preserve and protect Mexican wolves, red wolves and other wild canid species, with purpose and passion, through carefully managed breeding, reintroduction and inspiring education programs. The Center was founded in 1971 by Marlin Perkins and his wife Carol. Perkins is best known as the longtime host of television’s “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.” The Endangered Wolf Center is an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) certified facility. It has been the birth site of about 200 Mexican wolves, and every Mexican wolf in the wild can trace its lineage back to the Center. For more information, visit and follow the Center on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information on the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Program, please visit: or



Recovery plan ordered for Mexican wolves

Posted by on Oct 24, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Recovery plan ordered for Mexican wolves

Agreement results from lawsuit brought by
Endangered Wolf Center and other conservation groups

beautiful-ernestaA U.S. District Court judge in Arizona has issued an order that requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to complete a recovery plan for the critically
endangered Mexican wolf despite concerns from wolf opponents.

The USFWS recently reached a settlement between the Endangered Wolf Center, Defenders of Wildlife, Wolf Conservation Center, Center for Biological Diversity and former USFWS Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator David R. Parsons.

Under the settlement agreement, the USFWS is required to:

  • Complete a Mexican wolf recovery plan by Nov. 30, 2017.
  • Conduct an independent peer review of the draft plan.
  • Provide status reports on the recovery planning process to the court and the parties every six months until the recovery plan is issued.

Furthermore, the above terms are now judicially enforceable as a result of the court’s ruling.

The Endangered Wolf Center is proud to have been a part of this effort on behalf of the Mexican wolf.

“With only about 100 Mexican wolves left in the wild a comprehensive recovery plan based on science and experience could not have come at a better time,” said Virginia Busch, Executive Director of the Endangered Wolf Center. “It just goes to show, when we work together we can save species.”

Fittingly, this great news was announced during #WolfAwarenessWeek

‘Red Wolf Revival’ screening & discussion

Posted by on Oct 19, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on ‘Red Wolf Revival’ screening & discussion

(Note: This event occurred Nov. 10, 2016 at the Saint Louis Science Center. Other screenings will continue to take place nationally. Please visit and click on “Screenings” for a calendar of when and where they will occur.)


A red wolf dad with pups. Photo by Greg Koch.

The Saint Louis Science Center and the Endangered Wolf Center are partnering to present “Red Wolf Revival,” the award-winning short documentary by the Nestbox Collective and Susannah Smith.

Open to the public, the screening will take place Thursday, Nov. 10 at the Saint Louis Science Center at 5050 Oakland Avenue. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the program will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Following the film, there will be a panel discussion, featuring prominent voices in the red wolf survival story (listed below) and Roshan Patel, the director of the film.

Tickets are available for $10 for members of either institution or $15 for non-members. To purchase tickets, call 314-289-4424 or visit any box office at the Saint Louis Science Center.

A cash bar and snacks will be available.

“Red wolves are the only large carnivore species that is solely native to the United States … truly ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ They are more American than apple pie and baseball combined, yet most Americans don’t realize that red wolves exist, let alone that they are on the brink of extinction.” said Virginia Busch, Executive Director of the Endangered Wolf Center.

“Red Wolf Revival” has received several awards, including Best Conservation Film and Best Short Film by the International Wildlife Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Progeny Film Festival.

The short documentary details the struggles facing the last remaining wild population of the American red wolf. Once native to Missouri and the entire Southeastern United States, red wolves are now on the brink of extinction, with fewer than 50 left in the wild. The film is centered on the historic recovery effort in Eastern North Carolina, and documents the multifaceted struggle to reintroduce one of the rarest animals on earth in the face of cultural, economic and biological challenges in North Carolina. The film director sat down with landowners, writers, scientists, nature centers and concerned citizens to examine the cultural landscape in the region, how the story became urgent, and explore the implications of the changes to come.

web-red-wolf-revival-filming“Saving endangered animals takes a high level of science expertise,” said Pamela Braasch, Director of Education Programs for the Saint Louis Science Center. “The Science Center is very excited to partner with the Endangered Wolf Center in raising awareness of the plight of the red wolf and highlighting the science behind saving the species.”

For more information the film, the film trailer, and upcoming events, visit

Meet the Panel

Roshan Patel, award-winning documentary filmmaker
Patel is a filmmaker deeply rooted in conservation storytelling. His films about critically endangered species such as Asiatic lions and red wolves have been selected for festivals around the world and have won Best Short, Best Documentary and Best Conservation Film awards. His work has also been featured on National Geographic’s short film showcase. “Red Wolf Revival” will be on PBS in early 2017. He lives in Bozeman, Montana.

Pete Benjamin, Field Supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Red Wolf Recovery Program based in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Tom Meister – Biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation
Meister has been with the Conservation Department for 25 years, starting with Volunteer Naturalist, Naturalist, Visitor Center Manager and Interpretive Programs Supervisor. For the past 15 years, he has been a Wildlife Damage Biologist, providing education, technical evaluations and training to Missourians who are experiencing conflicts with wildlife. He is also a member of response, research and relocation teams for mountain lions, feral hogs, black bears and elk.

Regina Mossotti, Director of Animal Care and Conservation

Mossotti is a carnivore biologist who has worked with large carnivores for over 12 years. She has worked with many different species, from wolves in Yellowstone to mountain lions in California. She began her work at the Endangered Wolf Center as Director of Animal Care and Conservation six years ago. Regina currently sits on the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) Management Teams for the red wolf, Mexican wolf and African painted dog. SSPs help save critically endangered species through research, education, conservation and husbandry.

Ashley Rearden, Director of Education

Rearden graduated from St. Louis University with a B.A. in Communication and with a Juris Doctor Degree from St. Louis University’s School of Law and passed the Missouri bar exam that fall. Her passion for animals and education led her to the Endangered Wolf Center in 2012. As Director of Education and as an Education Adviser for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Red Wolf Species Survival Plan, she works with organizations and schools across the country to develop education tools that help spread awareness about the critically endangered red wolf.

About the Saint Louis Science Center

The mission of the Saint Louis Science Center is to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning. It is one of the top 15 science centers worldwide and was named one of the Top 10 Science Centers for Families by Parents magazine. The Saint Louis Science Center complex includes a four-story OMNIMAX® Theater, Boeing Hall and the James S. McDonnell Planetarium. For more information about the Saint Louis Science Center, please visit

About the Endangered Wolf Center

The Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Missouri, just outside St. Louis, is the premier wolf conservation, education, reproduction, and research center in the United States. Its mission is to preserve and protect Mexican wolves, red wolves and other wild canid species, with purpose and passion, through carefully managed breeding, reintroduction and inspiring education programs. The Center was founded in 1971 by Marlin Perkins and his wife, Carol. Perkins is best known as the longtime host of television’s “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.” The Endangered Wolf Center is an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) certified facility and is a 501(c)3 non-profit. For more information go to: and follow the Center on Facebook and Twitter.

2nd Wolves & Wine Auction will be April 21

Posted by on Oct 17, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on 2nd Wolves & Wine Auction will be April 21


Bidding at the 2016 Wolves & Wine Auction

The Endangered Wolf Center’s second Wolves & Wine Auction will be held Friday, April 21 at Selkirk Auctioneers and Appraisers. The inaugural event, on June 11, 2016, provided an evening filled with fun, refreshments and spirited bidding that raised substantial funds for the Center.

Sponsors of the 2016 Wolves & Wine Auction were:

August A. Busch III Charitable Trust
Hager Companies and Hager Family
Stephen and Camilla Brauer
Lohr Distributing Company
Steven and Julia Brncic

Preceding the auction at Selkirk (4739 McPherson Ave, St. Louis, 63108), wine tastings and art showing were held at three galleries along McPherson in the Central West End: Duane Reed, Philip Slein and projects+gallery.

Hosts for the evening were Endangered Wolf Center Trustee Janet Conners and her husband, local broadcast personality Larry Conners.

The Planning Committee consisted of Polly Bade, Suzy Brauer, Julia Brncic, Virginia Busch, Beth Campbell, Marjorie Dellas, Marguerite Garrick, Sabrina Lohr, Shy Patel, Michelle Steinmeyer, Virgil VanTrease, Susie Von Gontard and Paul Zemitzsch.

Event planner Rick Ruderer and Selkirk staff members helped stage the event.

Wolves & Wine was covered by Town & Style magazine and the Ladue News. Photographs of guests appeared in the publications and on their websites.


Annual Fund Coordinator Erin Kipp, along with Volunteer Sandy O’Shaughnessy, helped plan, procure, prepare and present the auction items.


From left: Sandra VanTrease, Marguerite Garrick and Board Trustee Virgil VanTrease.

Executive Director Virginia Busch on ‘STL Live’

Posted by on Sep 28, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Executive Director Virginia Busch on ‘STL Live’


Click here to watch Executive Director Virginia Busch’s appearance on STLTV’s “STL Live” with host Sarah Thompson. They discussed the Endangered Wolf Center’s vital mission of preserving wolves and the role of apex predators in a healthy ecosystem.
They also previewed Wolf Fest, our annual open house, which was Saturday, Oct. 8.

Livestock Guarding Dogs Protect Cheetahs & Wolves

Posted by on Sep 26, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Livestock Guarding Dogs Protect Cheetahs & Wolves

By Heather Taft and Laurie Marker

Cheetahs in Africa and wolves in North America have a lot in common.  They are both top predators, they are both considered threats to livestock, and people are increasing their use of livestock guarding dogs to protect their herds from them. This benefits both the farmers, decreasing the number of animals lost each year to predators, as well as the predators themselves because there are fewer cheetahs and wolves killed to protect livestock. For two species that are considered endangered, the increasing use of this non­-lethal method to keep predators away can have a great impact on the ability for these species to increase their population size as well.


A cheetah monitored by a camera trap. Another way in which the Cheetah Conservation Fund keeps track of cheetah population and movement to help farmers know where cheetahs roam.

Misperceptions about Cheetahs

Imagine the life of an African farmer …  Living on different forms of income generated from the  land, such as farming crops, raising and selling livestock, and even poaching when they  become really desperate. Their annual income may be less than $8,000. They may not have electricity, a car, or easy access to health care. They work long, back-­breaking days to feed their family. But sharing land with African predators means a farmer may occasionally find partially eaten carcasses of their livestock —­ a costly loss. Even one animal gone from the herd can impact a farmer’s livelihood.

Cheetahs are threatened by extinction and listed as Vulnerable in Appendix I by the Convention on Trade for Endangered Species (CITES). This can lead to less than ideal solutions for farmers to prevent further death of their livestock when they do find a dead goat. Do they hunt down the suspected cheetah and risk a heavy fine (in some countries), or do they leave the cheetah alone, risking further deaths of their livestock?

One of the big obstacles to saving cheetahs in Africa is the perception that they are nuisance species that intentionally hang around farms to prey upon livestock. There are several basic cheetah habits that contribute to the misperception that cheetahs roam farmlands to kill and eat livestock. With the loss of habitat, the best option would be to live in protected reserves. This includes species like lions, which are competition for cheetahs and are known to steal their kills. To reduce this competition with other predators, and have access to their natural prey species, the vast majority of cheetahs are found outside protected areas on livestock farmland.

Also, cheetahs actually prefer to eat wild species —­ ones they are familiar with and that have evolved alongside them. Therefore, managing a wild prey base is important. Cheetahs can kill livestock, but this is more common when the livestock has no protection from a herder, guarding dog, it is not corralled, or there is no wild prey. Cheetahs may also kill livestock when they become desperate for food, in particular they would prey on those animals that are lame or sick or lag behind the rest of the herd. Unfortunately, in many areas, there is very little wildlife left due to increased poaching. Poaching results in cheetahs looking more frequently at local livestock herds for food. As Africa’s human population increases and poverty continues unabated, habitat loss will increase, and the wild species cheetahs prey upon will decrease. Fewer wild prey species increases the number of livestock killed by predators and increases human­-predator conflict. One thing farmers may not be aware of is that by simply using a better method of protection, their livestock may survive better and they wouldn’t have to worry about predators as much.

Wolves Face Similar Problems


Rogue, a Mexican wolf at the Endangered Wolf Center. Mexican wolves are the smallest, southernmost and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf.

Wolves in North America are also seen as predators that will attack and kill livestock. Like farmers in Africa, ranchers in North America depend upon the income generated by their livestock, and they don’t always use alternate forms of livestock management. The death of an animal is a very serious problem and lethal actions may appear to be a quick solution. Currently, wolves are listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service across much of the United States. This is important to help protect them and encourage their populations to grow. For ranchers, an endangered status for wolves limits their ability to manage threats to their herds through lethal means.

A study by Wielgus and Peebles published in PLOS ONE in December 2014 found that killing wolves is associated with more livestock deaths the following year.  It was suggested that the death of wolves in the region leaves open habitat for new wolves to occupy. This may mean a new pair of wolves will take over the territory. As they have pups and the pack grows, more wolves will occupy the area. Young wolves may not know the human­-associated dangers of killing livestock, increasing the chance of a negative human­-wolf encounter. Livestock management is a much better option to help reduce the death of livestock.

Livestock Guarding Dogs Protect Herds

A livestock guarding dog watches over a herd. Photo by Andrew Harrington.

There are several ways that farmers can help control cheetahs and wolves to keep them away from their herds without killing the predator. One increasingly popular way to combat the issue is to use a livestock guarding dog (LGD). There are more than 20 breeds of guarding dogs, most from Europe, that have been guarding livestock for several thousand years. These dogs live with the herd instead of as pets in homes. They have bonded with the livestock from an early age and will protect them from predators that may become interested in the herd.

Livestock guarding dogs have been shown to be effective at preventing the death of livestock.  In Namibia, the Cheetah Conservation Fund began a livestock guarding dog program in 1994 using the Anatolian Shepherd and the Kangal, a dog breed from Turkey. They have placed nearly 600 dogs with livestock farmers, providing training in integrated livestock and wildlife management. Over 80 percent of farmers have reported a decrease in the livestock lost when using an LGD.  Most breeds of livestock guarding dogs have been used for centuries to protect livestock from wolves, but the practice decreased as rural farmers became more urbanized. Some dogs used in the United States include the Kangal, the Anatolian Shepherd, Great Pyrenees and the Akbash.

Selecting the best breed, number of dogs, and specific dog of that breed for each herd is important. Some of the best dogs for livestock protection are large, have a loud bark, are well bonded to their animals, and stay with the herd, but they do not herd the flock. If a dog were to chase away a predator both the dog and the herd are at an increased risk of attack. Larger herds need more dogs to make sure all the animals are protected, allowing the dogs to encircle a herd when needed. With wolves the ideal situation would be to create a dog pack that the wolves see as competition. Then the wolves would stay out of the dog pack’s territory leaving the herd of animals alone.

The use of an animal to protect livestock is an environmentally sound way to also help maintain wildlife populations.  It may not be possible to save cheetahs and wolves without the use of natural protective methods like LGDs, which greatly reduce the threat they face from farmers. It is wonderful that so many farmers today are adopting this practice.

Dr. Heather Taft, Ph.D, is a member of the faculty at Miami University in Ohio and teaches graduate classes in conservation biology for Project Dragonfly. She also teaches biology classes for Colorado State University-Global.

Dr. Laurie Marker, Ph.D., is the founder and Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund.


This blog post was done in collaboration with the Cheetah Conservation Fund. Please remember to celebrate Wolf Awareness Week – the third week in October (Oct. 9-16) and International Cheetah Day on Dec. 4.


In 2015, Dr. Laurie Marker and Virginia Busch, the Executive Director of the Endangered Wolf Center, discussed the many similar challenges facing cheetahs and wolves. Videos of the conversation are on this website and also appear on the Cheetah Conservation Fund website.


Antire Road resurfacing finishes early

Posted by on Sep 14, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Antire Road resurfacing finishes early

The Missouri Department of Transportation has finished resurfacing work on Antire Road south of Interstate 44, beating its expected completion date of mid-October by several weeks.

Although the project never impeded access to the Endangered Wolf Center, many people called in recent weeks to ask if the Center would remain open during the road construction. The Center is located on the north side of Interstate 44’s Exit 269, the Beaumont-Antire Road Exit. The resurfacing took place on the south side.

The Endangered Wolf Center is located at 6750 Tyson Valley Road in Eureka, MO 63025, on the grounds of Washington University’s Tyson Research Center. For more information, visit or call 636-938-5900.