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.

Thank you, Wolf Fest 2016 sponsors

Posted by on Aug 10, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Thank you, Wolf Fest 2016 sponsors

emersonlogoWe’d like to thank the many thousands of visitors who helped make Wolf Fest 2016 the huge success it was. (Wolf Fest 2017 will be Saturday, Oct. 21.)

And we especially want to thank the many sponsors who made our open house event on Oct. 8 possible:

Premier Sponsor:

Main Demonstration Sponsor:
Kevin and Betty

A Storage Inn, Judith Portnoy
Stella Amsinger and Connor Anderson
Penny Anderson
Craig and Denise Austin
The Baker and Hunter Family
Wendy Birmingham and Lori Schmoll,
Andrew and Jennifer Baur
Dave Blue and Missy Rung-Blue
The Broom Family
Rick and Mary Beth Brown
Carol Burtz, In Memory of Larry Burtz
Beth Campbell and Family
Jo Anna Dale
Mark and Barb Doering
Lee and BJ Eavy
George Farrell and Wendy Knudsen Farrell, Friends of Daisy
Grey Eagle Distributors
Jane Habbegger
Harvest Plaza and St. Charles Animal Hospitals
Marie Hirsch
Rick and Lisa Houska in Loving Memory of Babs Nelson, Kevin Houska, Anna and Rocky
Steve and Betsey Johnson
Kids Out and About St. Louis
Chris and Ginny Kostman
Erin Kipp in memory of Freesia
Cheryl Morrow
Wayne Norwood
Cheryl Pride in loving memory of Gloria Doyle
Celeste Ruwwe and Geraldine Hufker
Saint Louis Zoo Endangered Species Research & Veterinary Hospital
Martha Schoonover
Kathleen Secks
Bob and Cathi Tegels
The Eugene J. Tichacek Family Trust
Virgil and Sandra VanTrease
Vet Stop Animal Clinic, Dr. Rhiannon McKnight
Washington University at Tyson Research Center
George and Lee Weber
Marlene Weinland, Wolves’ Lives Matter
Mr. And Mrs. Orrin S. Wightman III
Wiley Family Foundation
Diane Woepke and Gary Woepke in Loving Memory of Richard Woepke
Graphic Design generously provided by Jim Kuchar

If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities for Wolf Fest 2017, call 636-938-9306. Next year, Wolf Fest will be Saturday, Oct. 21.


The Kids’ Area featured a climbing wall and bounce house.

Wolf Fest is one of just a handful of days (Holiday Boutique on Dec. 3 and Messy Play Days are the others) when visitors cans tour the animal enclosures without making reservations in advance.

David Jackson and his Conservation Ambassadors again presented three shows. Ambassador animals this year included a barred owl, American alligator, raven, coyote, serval and kangaroo. Another fan favorite, Jonathan Offi and his amazing agility dogs also did three “Canines in the Clouds” performances.

Multiple booths and exhibitions fit in with Wolf Fest’s theme of wildlife/conservation/outdoors. Among the exhibits:

    • The Butterfly House
    • Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary
    • The Dog Museum
    • Kids Out and About St. Louis
    • Longmeadow Rescue Ranch Barn Buddies
    • Missouri Department of Conservation
    • Missouri Parks Association
    • St. Louis Audubon
    • St. Louis Zoo
    • Shaw Nature Preserve
    • Weldon Spring Site Interpretative Center
    • West County Woodcarvers
    • Wildlife Rescue
    • World Bird Sanctuary
    • World Ecology Center (University of Missouri-St. Louis)

Two photogenic mascots were on hand: the African painted dog and Lobo the Mexican wolf.

Food trucks — Blues Fired Pizza, Curbside Cookery, St. LouisianaQ and Seoul Taco ­— offered delicious, savory choices.

The kids’ area featured games and crafts, and a bounce house and rock-climbing wall.

Admission to Wolf Fest was just $25 a carload. Gates opened at 9 a.m. and the event ended at 5 p.m.

Wolf Fest is held at the Endangered Wolf Center, located on the grounds of Washington University’s Tyson Research Center. The address is 6750 Tyson Valley Road, Eureka, MO 63025.

The Center is located about 20 miles southwest of St. Louis, off Interstate 44’s Exit 269, the Beaumont-Antire Road exit. If you are headed westbound on I-44, it’s the exit just after Highway 141. If you are headed eastbound on I-44, it’s the exit just after Lewis Road.  The Center is on the north side of I-44.

The Endangered Wolf Center is a 501c(3) non-profit and receives no funding from the state or federal governments.  Wolf Fest is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year and we greatly appreciate your participation.

2016 Wolf Fest Flier

Jonathan Offi and his ‘Canines in the Clouds’ did three shows.


Gumbo the American alligator was part of the Conservation Ambassadors program.

We must remain on the side of zoos

Posted by on Aug 4, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on We must remain on the side of zoos

The message below from Endangered Wolf Center Executive Director Virginia Busch appears in the Center’s Summer 2016 Magazine.

Dear Friends of the Endangered Wolf Center,

In recent months, I’ve watched the zoological community struggle with the concept of relevance, and how it relates to conservation, animal care and their mission. With so much of the wild in a state of crisis and our planet in the midst of its sixth extinction cycle inarguably brought on by humans, the great irony and tragedy is that the very institutions capable of affecting positive change for wildlife and wild places may themselves be on a path to extinction.

Over the last several years, animal rights extremists have devised powerful social media campaigns, in conjunction with agenda-based films positioned as documentaries, that have led many people to question how they feel about animals in zoological facilities.VB

It’s not hard to convince a cynical society that most any corporation or institution is the bad guy, especially when the accuser operates under the auspices of an advocate. But by zoos attempting to take the high road and not enter into a fight with the playground bully, the bullies are winning. And in the end, without zoos and aquariums to inspire a connection to wildlife and wild places, it’s the animals who will lose. And us, who will lose wild animals – those irreplaceable wonders who share our planet.

Zoological facilities are so much more than just the display of animals. They are institutions that:
• aid in species research, especially behavioral research that can be difficult if not impossible in the wild.
• inspire millions of guests each year to become environmental stewards, not just for the animals within the zoo but for the planet as a whole.
• provide boots-on-the-ground conservation, with specialized staff, veterinarian skills or funding.
• manage and breed endangered species for introduction back to the wild.
• provide enrichment activities to help keep the animals mentally and emotionally stimulated.

A nationwide study including more than 5,500 visitors from 12 AZA-accredited institutions found that visits to zoos and aquariums prompt individuals to reconsider their role in environmental problems and see themselves as part of the solution.

We cannot let a loud, ill-informed minority opinion manipulated by extremists create long-lasting policy changes, such as shutting down zoos. Yes, that is a strong statement but one that I truly believe can happen at an accelerated pace with the way social media can influence and drive decisions.

The Endangered Wolf Center is just one of many zoological institutions that directly interfaces with conservation in the wild. Our Mexican and red wolves are active candidates for release to the wild. Would the very same animal rights groups that are so against zoos want to shut us down? Absolutely. There is no gray area for groups like these.

Zoos and facilities such as ours have a responsibility to remain relevant. With 143 million combined visitors each year, no one else can replace their ability to engage, inspire and educate guests through up close connections with animals. No one else has the expertise to research, breed toward species survival, study and advocate for animals through firsthand knowledge like zoos. We must remain on their side. Our living planet and her amazing animals are counting on us all.

Charity Polo Match benefits wolves

Posted by on Jul 25, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Charity Polo Match benefits wolves

Polo 2016 Flier-Web
All proceeds from the St. Louis Benefit Polo Club’s match on Saturday, Aug. 27, went to the Endangered Wolf Center and its important mission of preserving critically endangered Mexican wolves and red wolves.

The match was held at the Blue Heron Farms Polo Club, 4020 Benne Road, Defiance, MO 63341. Gates opened at 3 p.m. and the match began at 4 p.m.

Admission was just $25 a carload.

VIP tickets were $75 a person. VIPs enjoyed a reserved area with an elevated view and all activities, including food and drinks, free of charge. 

Sponsorships started at $500. Sponsorships included seating under a reserved tent with a catered buffet. Call 636-938-9306 to learn about sponsorship opportunities.

Kevin and Betty once again were our Event Sponsors. Here’s a list of the sponsors:

Event Sponsor:
Kevin and Betty

Half-Time Sponsor:
August A. Busch III Charitable Trust

Team Sponsors:
Several Anonymous Families
Steve and Kimmy Brauer
Hager Companies
Betty White

Bravo Cucina Italiana
Brio Tuscan Grille
The Commerce Trust Company
Jeremiah and Marjorie Dellas
Dogfish Custom Graphic Apparel
David and Cheryl Gaynor
Harvest Plaza Animal Hospital and St. Charles Animal Hospital
Steve and Betsey Johnson – Foxbrook Farm
Mrs. Wilfred Konneker
Krey Distributing
Jim Kuchar
Lohr Distributing
Musick Construction Co.
The Private Client Reserve U.S. Bank
PVG Land & Cattle Company
Celeste Ruwwe and Geraldine Hufker
The Ryan Tradition-Coldwell Banker Gundaker
St. Louis Car Museum & Sales
Jay Smith
Michelle Steinmeyer
Grenville and Dianne Sutcliffe
Eugene J. Tichacek Family Trust
Virgil and Sandra VanTrease
The Winnick Family Foundation

Guests had a chance to meet and photograph the players and get autographs.

Special exhibits included Spike the Clydesdale, Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary, Longmeadow Rescue Ranch barn buddies and the World Wildlife Fund.

There was a kids area with games and mask-making, a bounce house, gift shop, silent auction, delicious food, soda and water, and adult beverages for those over 21.

The opening ceremonies included a dove release by Wish Upon a Dove. At halftime, guests took part in a traditional champagne toast and divot stomp.

Whether you’re a polo aficionado or a first-time fan, the sport is simply amazing to watch:
• The regulation size of an outdoor polo field is 300 yards by 160 yards – the size of 8 football fields.
• An average polo pony weighs 1,000 pounds.
• The average speed of a polo pony in play is 35 miles an hour.

Please visit our Facebook page to view a Photo Album of the 4th Annual Charity Polo Match.



The match is played on the Kräftig field at the Blue Heron Farms Polo Club in Defiance, Missouri.

Polo toast

The Charity Polo Match features the traditional halftime divot stomp and champagne toast.


Wolves series is now on ‘Wild Kingdom’

Posted by on Jul 13, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Wolves series is now on ‘Wild Kingdom’

Marlin Perkins

Marlin Perkins during the early TV years of “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.” This scene appears in the “Landscape” webisode.

Marlin Perkins is back on “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.”

Actually, his image appears in a segment of the show’s latest webisode series  “Wolves.”

Much of the four-part series was filmed at the Endangered Wolf Center, located on the grounds of Washington University’s Tyson Research Center in Eureka, Missouri.

The Center was founded in 1971 by Marlin Perkins and his wife Carol. Marlin Perkins, former director of the Saint Louis Zoo, was the original and longtime host of “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” which debuted on NBC in January 1963. Perkins teamed with Jim Fowler to take viewers around the world each week in search of exotic animals.

“Wild Kingdom” now exists online, where current host Stephanie Arne has assumed the role of introducing viewers to the animals. Arne and a film crew visited the Endangered Wolf Center twice, in November 2015 and May 2016. Parts of the program were also filmed at Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana.

The “Wolves” series consists of four parts: “Intro,” “Language,” “Landscape” and “The Pack Way.”

Stephanie Arne

Stephanie Arne, current host of “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” during filming at the Endangered Wolf Center near St. Louis.

Links to the series also are available on the Facebook and Twitter pages of “Wild Kingdom” and the Endangered Wolf Center. Both offer news updates so be sure to visit their social media sites.

The “Wild Kingdom” website also offers Did You Know? facts about wolves and a photo gallery.

Earlier webisodes included series on sharks, snakes, stingrays, leopard cubs and many other animals.

‘Wild Kingdom’ returns to the wolf center

Posted by on May 23, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on ‘Wild Kingdom’ returns to the wolf center


Stephanie Arne, the current host of “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” met with Marguerite Garrick, daughter of the show’s original host Marlin Perkins, on May 23, 2016 at the Center.


“Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” filming red wolves at the Endangered Wolf Center May 23, 2016.

“Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” returns to Center founded by Marlin Perkins to film newborn wolf pups

Stephanie Arne, the host of “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” returned to the Endangered Wolf Center — founded by Marlin Perkins, the original host of “Wild Kingdom” — near St. Louis May 23-24 to film Mexican wolf pups who were born this spring.

“Wild Kingdom” debuted in 1963 on NBC while Perkins was director of the St. Louis Zoo. He hosted the show until 1985, a year before his death. Jim Fowler, his teammate, took over as host after Perkins retired. The weekly series featured stories about wildlife filmed on trips throughout the world.

In 2013, Arne became the series’ first female host, which now features webisodes online. In November, Arne and a film crew were at the Endangered Wolf Center preparing a story on wolves. They returned May 23-24 to include scenes of wolf pups for the webisode to air on in July.

Two different Mexican wolves — Sibi and Vera — produced litters in April and May this year. In history-making events, two of Sibi’s pups (Vida and Lindbergh) and two of Vera’s pups (Linda and Valeria) were cross-fostered into the dens of wolves living in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona. Cross-fostering is a technique where wolf pups from one litter are placed into another litter. The wolf mother will adopt the additions as her own. It increases the genetic pool and population of wolves in the wild.

Perkins, a pioneer in conservation efforts, and his wife Carol founded the Endangered Wolf Center in 1971, before the Endangered Species Act existed. They recognized that wolves were dramatically declining and that urgent measures were needed to keep them from vanishing from the face of the Earth.

“It is an incredible honor and privilege to film ‘Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom’ at the Endangered Wolf Center,” Arne said. “As the show’s new host, I have been able to speak with people across America and experience the lasting impact that Marlin Perkins has had on the hearts and minds of people today; but visiting the Center takes it to another level. It’s one thing to talk about conservation, education, and awareness, but seeing the brick and mortar facility that Marlin founded makes it real.

“Knowing the impact this place has had over the last 40 years on populations in the wild, and the ecosystems in which they live, is truly remarkable and awe-inspiring. Cheers to you Marlin, and on behalf of all the inhabitants of today’s Wild Kingdom, Thank You!”

“It is such a pleasure to welcome Stephanie and ‘Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom’ back to the Center to film our newest additions,” said Virginia Busch, Executive Director of the Endangered Wolf Center. “Marlin Perkins would be proud of the messages Stephanie and ‘Wild Kingdom’ are spreading about wildlife and the importance of conserving our planet.”

Historic cross-fostering involves 2 pups from Center

Posted by on Apr 29, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Historic cross-fostering involves 2 pups from Center


Regina Mossotti, Director of Animal Care and Conservation, conducts a quick pup check.

News Release April 29, 2016
For Immediate Use

Mexican wolf pups fly into the recovery effort

The Endangered Wolf Center and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collaborate to fly two 9-day-old pups born at the Center from St. Louis to their new family in the wilds of New Mexico.

ST. LOUIS — The Endangered Wolf Center flew two just-born critically endangered Mexican wolf pups to New Mexico to be cross-fostered by a wild pack on Saturday, April 23, 2016. This historic collaborative effort between the Endangered Wolf Center staff and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services represents the first time pups born in captivity have been “adopted out” in this way.

This technique of inserting captive born pups into wild dens has never been tried with Mexican wolves. With fewer than 100 individuals left in the wild, these two pups born April 15, 2016 (male pup mp1461, named Lindbergh after the famous St. Louis aviator, and female pup fp1462, named Vida) represent a vital new component of the recovery effort.

“Years of work went into this moment,” said Regina Mossotti, Director of Animal Care and Conservation at the Endangered Wolf Center, “and we are elated to be a part of history. The Endangered Wolf Center has been working over the last 45 years to help make breakthroughs in conservation efforts. Getting these pups from a den in St. Louis to a den in New Mexico successfully was nothing short of exhilarating—and exhausting!”

Pups in backpack

Lindbergh and Vida travel by backpack to their new den.

The two pups flew to New Mexico, under the care of Mossotti and Animal Keeper Emma Miller. “Our staff are the best in the field and they did an excellent job of making sure these pups were warm, safe and healthy every step on their way into the wild,” said Virginia Busch, Executive Director of the Endangered Wolf Center.

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 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 each other, and generally 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 successful efforts of the Endangered Wolf Center and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services all the more remarkable.

The pack that the pups were released into was the SBP (Sheepherders Baseball Park) Pack, named after a New Mexico landmark in their territory. The father is M1284 (collared) and the mom is M1392.

Mexican wolves are the smallest, southernmost and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf. At one point, Mexican wolves numbered only five in the wild. When those five were captured and brought into managed breeding facilities, the Mexican wolf was declared extinct in the wild in 1980. The first release of Mexican wolves back in the wild took place in March 1998, with nine of the 11 wolves released coming from the Endangered Wolf Center. The 2015 survey of Mexican wolves counted 97.

Mexican wolves were native to New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and Mexico. Today, they can be found in New Mexico and Arizona, and Mexico.

The Endangered Wolf Center was founded in 1971 by Dr. Marlin Perkins, longtime host of TV’s “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” and former director of the Saint Louis Zoo, and his wife Carol. It is located on the grounds of Washington University’s Tyson Research Center in Eureka,
Missouri, about 20 miles southwest of St. Louis.

For more information contact:
Steve Parker
Director of Operations
[email protected]
636-938-5900 office 314-724-8037 cell

Pups' new home

The two pups’ new landscape.



Settlement provides hope for Mexican wolves

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Settlement provides hope for Mexican wolves

A settlement has been reached in federal court that will require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency charged with protecting the Mexican wolf, to prepare a recovery plan — decades after it was supposed to do so.

The Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Missouri, just outside St. Louis, has played a key role in helping save this wolf from extinction and reintroducing it back to the wild. The settlement results from a lawsuit filed in 2014 by Earthjustice on behalf of a coalition of wolf-conservation interests, including the Endangered Wolf Center.

Parties represented in the lawsuit jointly issued this news release:

News Release: For immediate use

Court settlement provides hope for Mexican wolves

Forty years after Endangered Species Act protection, government is required to prepare a recovery plan

Tucson, Ariz. — A coalition of wolf conservation groups, environmental organizations and a retired federal wolf biologist have announced a court settlement requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) to prepare a long-delayed recovery plan for Mexican gray wolves by November 2017.

With only 97 individuals existing in the wild at the end of 2015, and fewer than 25 in Mexico, the Mexican gray wolf is one of the most endangered mammals in North America and faces a serious risk of extinction. Thanks to the courts, the Service is finally required to meet its legal obligation of completing a legally sufficient recovery plan, with the ultimate goal of a healthy, sustainable population of Mexican gray wolves in the wild.

“The Mexican wolf is the sentry of the southwest,” said Virginia Busch, Executive Director of the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Missouri, one of the parties in the lawsuit. “This critically endangered wolf is vital to keeping the ecosystem healthy, which is why it needs a recovery plan based on sound science to save it from extinction.”

The Endangered Wolf Center has played a key role in Mexican wolf recovery efforts ever since it was founded in 1971.

Earthjustice filed a lawsuit in November 2014 to challenge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s multi-decade delay in completing a recovery plan for the Mexican wolf. Earthjustice represents the Endangered Wolf Center; Defenders of Wildlife; the Center for Biological Diversity; retired Fish and Wildlife Service Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator David R. Parsons; and the Wolf Conservation Center in the case. The settlement agreement follows a September 2015 ruling by a federal judge in Tucson that rejected the government’s effort to dismiss the case.

“The settlement provides hope that the lobo can be a living, breathing part of the southwestern landscape instead of just a long-lost frontier legend,” said Tim Preso, Earthjustice attorney. “But to realize that hope, federal officials must take up the challenge of developing a legitimate, science-based recovery plan for the Mexican wolf rather than yielding to political pressure.”

“Wolves love to follow paths,” said former Mexican wolf recovery leader David Parsons. “Now, finally, the path to recovery for the critically endangered lobos of the southwest will be blazed.”

“After four decades of delay, a scientific roadmap for recovery of the Mexican gray wolf will finally be reality,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The recovery plan should trigger new releases of captive-bred wolves into the wild and establish new Mexican wolf populations in the Grand Canyon and southern Rocky Mountain ecosystems.”

The Service developed a document it labeled a “recovery plan” for the Mexican wolf in 1982 — but the Service itself admits that this document was incomplete, intended for only short-term application, and “did not contain objective and measurable recovery criteria for delisting as required by [the Endangered Species Act].” Most importantly, the 34-year-old document did not provide the necessary science-based guidance to move the Mexican gray wolf toward recovery. Without a recovery plan in place, the Service’s Mexican gray wolf conservation efforts have been hobbled by insufficient releases of captive wolves into the wild population, excessive removals of wolves from the wild, and arbitrary geographic restrictions on wolf occupancy of promising recovery habitat. The Service in 2010 admitted that the wild Mexican gray wolf population “is not thriving” and remains “at risk of failure,” and further admitted that “failure to develop an up-to-date recovery plan results in inadequate guidance for the reintroduction and recovery effort.”

“We are racing extinction on the Mexican gray wolf,” said Eva Sargent, senior Southwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife. “The best available science, not political pressure, should lead the recovery planning for the Mexican gray wolf. We need more wolves and less politics.”

The plaintiffs joining the April 25 settlement agreement include two environmental education organizations that operate captive-breeding facilities that have supported recovery efforts by providing Mexican gray wolves for release into the wild. Despite their efforts, Mexican gray wolf survival continues to be threatened by the lack of a recovery plan to ensure that wolf releases are sufficient to establish a viable population.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail,” said Maggie Howell, executive director of the Wolf Conservation Center in New York. “And for these iconic and imperiled wolves, failure means extinction. This settlement represents a necessary and long overdue step toward recovering America’s most endangered gray wolf and preventing an irrevocable loss from happening on our watch.”

“Education is a key component to the recovery of a species, especially for an animal that has been historically misunderstood and misrepresented. Equally important is an active, up-to-date recovery plan for the species in the wild,” said Busch of the Endangered Wolf Center just outside St. Louis.

“The genetic variability that organizations like the Endangered Wolf Center hold with the Mexican wolf population is hugely valuable for releases and cross-fostering opportunities in the wild, Busch said. “We are pleased to hear that the Service will be taking an active role in developing a recovery plan in a timely manner.”


Background on Mexican gray wolves and photos for media use: Earthjustice materials
Read the settlement document: Read the settlement
Versión en línea: Read the settlement in Spanish

Background: The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)—the “lobo” of southwestern lore—is the most genetically distinct lineage of wolves in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the most endangered mammals in North America. By the mid-1980s, hunting, trapping, and poisoning caused the extinction of lobos in the wild, with only a handful remaining in captivity. In 1998 the wolves were reintroduced into the wild as part of a federal reintroduction program under the Endangered Species Act. Today in the U.S., there is a single wild population in the Blue Range area of Arizona and New Mexico comprising only 97 individuals, all descendants of just seven wild founders of a captive breeding program. These wolves are threatened by illegal killings, legal removals due to conflicts with livestock, and a lack of genetic diversity. Within the past year alone, escalating mortalities and illegal killing, along with reduced pup survival, reduced the wild population from 110 to 97 individuals.

The Service has never written or implemented a legally sufficient Mexican gray wolf recovery plan. Its most recent recovery team has done extensive, rigorous work to determine what needs to be done to save the Mexican gray wolf. Recovery team scientists agreed that, in order to survive, lobos require the establishment of at least three linked populations. Habitat capable of supporting the two additional populations exists in the Grand Canyon ecoregion and in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. The recovery team drafted a plan in 2012 that called for establishing three interconnected Mexican gray wolf populations totaling at least 750 animals in these areas, but the plan has never been finalized.
The settlement requires the Service to complete a valid recovery plan by November 2017 and requires peer review of the recovery plan to ensure its scientific integrity. The settlement has been presented to the federal judge overseeing the case, who must approve it before the settlement becomes binding on the parties.


Rebecca Bowe, Earthjustice, 415-217-2093, [email protected]

Steve Parker, Endangered Wolf Center, 636-938-5900, [email protected]

Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, (575) 313-7017, [email protected]

Maggie Howell, Wolf Conservation Center, 914-763-2373, [email protected]

Catalina Tresky, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0253, [email protected]

Preguntas de prensa en Español: Betsy Lopez-Wagner, (415) 217-2159, [email protected]

May 19 Speaker Series: New mammals in Missouri

Posted by on Apr 15, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on May 19 Speaker Series: New mammals in Missouri

Chadwick bear

Tom Meister poses with a tranquilized black bear during Missouri Department of Conservation research in the Chadwick Area of the Mark Twain National Forest. The bear was weighed, measured, radio-collared, and his ear was tagged and tattooed before release. Meister says the bear weighed more than 400 pounds and broke the scale.

Please join us May 19 as Tom Meister of the Missouri Department of Conservation discusses mammals that are relatively new on the Missouri landscape — mountain lions, black bears, feral hogs, elk,  armadillos, nutria, wolves. (Wolves?) He’ll discuss how these animals got here or whether they’ve always been here. In either case, what impact could they have on the diversity of the state’s natural resources?

Meister has more than 20 years’ experience as a naturalist and wildlife biologist, and is currently Wildlife Damage Biologist with the Department of Conservation. He has been a member of research/relocation/response teams for mountain lions, black bears, elk and feral hogs.

His talk — “New Mammals in Missouri: Invasive, Introduced or Interlopers?” ­— will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 19, and is part of the Endangered Wolf Center’s 2016 Speaker Series.

The cost is just $10. Reservations are required and easily made by calling 636-938-5900. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The one-hour Speaker Series program, followed by a question and answer session, will be held in Tyson Research Center’s Living Learning Center. Come to the Endangered Wolf Center’s front gate at 6750 Tyson Valley Road, Eureka, MO 63025, and you’ll be directed to the Living Learning Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the talk will start at 7 p.m.