U.S. Forest Service Puts On Wolf Recovery Information Event In Beautiful Sedona, Arizona
Bill Chamberlain - U.S. Wolf Refuge
Jeff Dolphin - Arizona Game & Fish
On Friday January 9 and Saturday January 10 the U.S. Forest Service held two most informative and enlightening presentations covering the multitude of controversial issues surrounding the Mexican wolf recovery project in Arizona and New Mexico. It was a very popular event. Over 80 people had to be turned away due to the huge crowd that came early. It was held at the visitor's center of the Sedona National Forest Service's facility in the beautiful Red Rock area of Arizona.
These events were intended to present to the people who live in the areas where the wolves now/will inhabit the real facts about these magnificent creatures. It also addressed those things they will need to know to harmoniously coexist with them. The many comments and questions afterwards showed that this was accomplished. There are possibly more such events to be scheduled in the newly expanded areas where Mexican wolves will now be allowed to roam.
A special thank-you goes out to Candice Mark, Bob Beltz and Jennifer Young all of the Sedona National Forest Service for this wonderful event. Their hospitality and assistance was greatly appreciated. Kathy Poteet of Chino Valley helped tremendously with handling Kasa and speaking to visitors and answering their many questions. Doris McFadden - a U.S. Wolf Refuge board member - spoke at the Friday event about livestock guard dogs and assisted a great deal answering questions and speaking to the many attendees at the Saturday event. Livestock guard dogs are one of Ms. McFadden's areas of expertise. She has been a professional dog trainer for over 60 years and has had several wolf-dogs herself.
Jeff Dolphin of the Arizona Dept. of Fish & Game used his experience to talk about the history of the project and its present status. He also covered many of the biological issues of the Mexican wolf's return to the region
Mr. Chamberlain's presentation gave a very balanced picture of what the real wolf really is and what it is not. He dispelled many of the myths and fables about wolves with scientific facts. He also was much more lively in that he blatantly exposed the administrative flaws in the Mexican wolf project and how they have tragically delayed the Mexican wolf's full recovery which has resulted in many wolves losing their lives.
Mr. Chamberlain has been actively involved in the Mexican wolf reintroduction/recovery effort since 1995. This was three years before the initial release of Mexican wolves into Arizona and New Mexico. He conducted extensive studies of the available water and prey in the areas that were being considered for wolf releases. The findings of those studies were used in the initial Environmental Impact Statement. He spoke at all the public hearings prior to the initial reintroduction. He was one of just few selected to attend that initial release on January 28, 1998. (see attached link - The Mexican Wolf Returns To Arizona)
The event on Saturday featured Kasa the U.S. Wolf Refuge ambassador wolf. She was a real hit. This part of the event was held outside of the visitors center. Briana Edwards and her mom and dad - Mike & Gina - were there. Briana- a remarkable 9-old girl - has spoken at many the Mexican wolf events. She loves wolves and has no hesitation about telling that to anyone who will listen - including the federal government. She is truly a hard act to follow. Afterwards Mr. Chamberlain got to spend some quality time with many long-time friends and supporters of the U.S. Wolf Refuge from the early days back when the U.S. Wolf Refuge was in Arizona. It was unfortunate that many of those who were turned away were more of those friends and supporters.
In the Spotlight
It's Powwow Time Again!
It won't be long until all the U.S. Wolf Refuge staff, volunteers and ambassador animals will be packing it up and heading to the beautiful Stanford University Campus in Palo Alto California for the 44th ANNUAL STANFORD POWWOW. This will be the 8th year that we have returned to this event to reunite with the friends that we have made there.
This year our fundraising "Gift Shop" will contain new merchandise as well as our most popular items available to purchase. The proceeds from our gift shop is always our opportunity to build up the U.S. Wolf Refuge emergency medical fund "Temerity's 4-Footed Angels." This fund began as a tribute to our former ambassador "TEMERITY" to honor her memory and we like to believe that it is her way of still watching over her Pack! Every time one of our pack members needs the attention of our veterinarian we are oh so grateful to all the people who support our work. This powwow is our largest fundraising opportunity every year.
As usual the powwow begins Friday evening May 8th, is open all day Saturday and closing ceremonies are usually about 5:00 p.m. Sunday May 10th. Pay us a visit and meet our ambassador KASA and special ambassador TAKODA (up close and personal) and who knows who else might show up!!!! If you live in the San Franciso Bay Area or driving distance please stop by our booth to say "HI". If you'd like to volunteer this weekend (in the Gift Shop or the Information Booth) please email Bill@USWolfRefuge.org.
Pack Member of the Month
Everybody loves Athena ... wolf and people alike! Athena is one of the most remarkable girls you'll ever meet. She's resided at the refuge since early puppyhood and it's hard to believe that she is now 8 years old.
Athena came to us as a skinny puppy covered in mange that was literally hours away from being euthanized. A husky-rescue person contacted us because he was told that she was from a wolf-dog breeder. Either way, once Bill Chamberlain saw her he was determined to give her every chance he could to live. You can read Athena's entire story on the "Our Resident Wolves" page of our website.
Obviously, Athena wiggled her way into Bill's heart as well as (our then ambassador) Temerity's. Temerity took over as her adoptive mom and Bill as her adoptive dad. She has a wonderful spirit that every animal feels --- there is only ONE wolf/wolf-dog that has not gotten along with Athena, no matter how much they towered over her and out-weighed her ... everyone would play gently with Athena and loved her ... especially pack member Comanche. The one that didn't was a young maturing female that was testing Athena for the alpha position ... just mother nature acting up - but we took control of that situation right away.
We would love to celebrate ATHENA as our Pack Member of the Month for February 2015. Her Adopt-a-Wolf packet is on special for the entire month.
The Mexican Wolf Returns to Arizona
By Bill Chamberlain, U.S. Wolf Refuge Founder & Director
January 26, 1998 was a brisk, bright and sunny day in the beautiful White Mountains of eastern Arizona. This was going to be one of the most exciting and emotional days of my life. The release of the Mexican wolf into the wild of Arizona was finally about to happen. After driving all night to get there, at about 6:30 am on this glorious Monday morning I find myself sitting on the couch in the lobby of the Hannagan Meadow Lodge. I am exhausted from the lack of sleep, but exuberant inside in anticipation of the events that were about to unfold. The lobby was starting to fill up with many wonderful people I have known for years as well as many highly renown people in the wolf world that I have spoken with on the phone or have seen on numerous videos but never actually got to meet. And suddenly standing right in front of me was the then Secretary of the Interior Mr. Bruce Babbitt. my exhausted appearance caused him to ask, "Are you OK?" I gathered myself as quickly as I could and proceeded to explain that I had driven all night and how excited I was about this day. He proceeded to sit down on the other end of the couch and for the next several minutes we had a wonderful conversation.
After Mr. Babbitt was called away, I started looking around the room to see who else had arrived. Just then a dear friend Bobbie Holaday (Exec. Dir of Preserve Arizona Wolves - PAWS) walks in the front door. Our eyes meet and I know we both felt the same joy and excitement about what was about to happen. Bobbie had come the day before and participated in the previous night's celebration. She stayed in one of the of the cabins at the Lodge. After some short excited conversation, she says she has something to show me. She takes me outside and shows me a horse trailer that was parked just outside her cabin window all night. Inside were three crates that contained the three most famous wolves in Arizona. They were the ones that were going to be released in the several hours.. She said that she was awake all night just knowing that these animals were going to finally get the chance to live as free as Mother Nature has intended.
Bobbie was the real catalyst behind this day. As we all know the wheels of government agencies don't always turn as fast as we would like. When particular part of the reintroduction process would get bogged down in "bureaucratic quagmire," Bobbie was there with her tenaciousness to expedite whatever needed to be done. This along with her educational and informational programs are the things that helped bring about this day. I do not mean to trivialize anyone's efforts in this reintroduction program, but rather recognize her for her commitment and dedication. The entire Mexican wolf recovery program would never have happened if not for a concerted effort from a number of people that is far too great to list individually. Most of the key people whose efforts resulted in this wondrous day were governmental employees whose job it was to enact this program, but they did it with conviction, dedication and perseverance despite many opposing forces. But Bobbie's efforts were strictly volunteer. She created a non-profit organization with a number of dedicated volunteers whose combined efforts significantly raised the public's awareness of the program's merits and the need for its enactment.
After our short, early morning conversation and prior to all the dignitaries and press people being transported to the acclimation pen for the actual event, breakfast was served in the Lodge's restaurant. Afterwards Sec. Babbitt made an inspirational talk about how this is not the end of the program but it's a new beginning. He spoke about how man and wolf need to coexist for the benefit of all. At breakfast I was honored to be accompanied by Steve Bodinet of Channel 3 News out of Phoenix and several PAWS volunteers. After breakfast I went outside to enjoy the beauty of the day. Bright sunshine, snow on the ground, the temperature was brisk but comfortable with no wind. At this moment I run into Mr. Michael Phillips (Red Wolf Recovery Program & Turner Endangered Species Fund). Though somewhat controversial I have revered him for many years. We struck a rather lengthy conversation. We spoke at length about wolf behavior and the problems all three wolf reintroduction programs have had to deal with. An interesting topic arose when we started to talk about the acclimation pens and the duration the animals need to remain in them. Because of his experience with the Red wolf program in the southeast U.S. he had some thoughts he wanted to discuss with Dave Parsons (Mexican wolf reintroduction team leader) concerning the period of time these animals needed to stay in these pens. Diane Boyd (USFWS biologist) was the one responsible for monitoring the animals' behavior while in these pens and determining when the animals should be released from these pens. The purpose of this acclimation period is to get the animals to feel that this area is now their "home" If this is accomplished, their inclination to travel outside the recovery area (approx. 7000 sq. mi.) will be greatly reduced. This is one of the biggest concerns of the Mexican wolf management team. We also discussed livestock predation, local rancher sentiment, tracking techniques and the recent ruling concerning the Yellowstone & central Idaho wolves.
Then the grandest moment came. The announcement was made for those who were going to the release pens to get into the shuttle buses (huge snow cats). They proceeded north of the lodge for about 5 miles, They then reached a forest trail that led back into the woods for over a mile where the 1/3 acre acclimation pen was located. Due to the knee-deep crusty snow the dignitaries, the media people and invited guests were brought to within Â¼ mile of the pen. The media people scrambled for the best vantage points. Here about 80 people got to watch from about 50' away as the 3 metal crates were carried into the enclosure. Everyone else involved assisted 9in the gentle and smooth transporting of the animals from the snow cats to the pen. You could see and feel their nurturing demeanor in all their actions. The crates containing these lucky creatures were gently placed beside each other in the pen. These animals were "mom," "dad," and "daughter" (8 months old). The first crate that contained the daughter was carried in by Bruce Babbitt (Sec.of Interior), Jamie Clark (Dir. of USFWS), Trish Stevenson (grand-daughter of Aldo Leopold), and Wil Holder (rancher from the Anchor Ranch near the release site). The second crate was carried in by Duane Shroufe (Dir. of AGFD), Jose Louis Samaniego Leyva (project liaison from Mexico). Nancy Kaufman (Region 3 Dir. USFWS) and Roger Schlickeisen (Pres. Defenders of Wildlife). The third crate contained the "dad" and was carried in by none other than Bobbie Holiday (Ex. Dir. Preserve Arizona Wolves), John Kirkpatrick (Dir. of Region 2 U.S. Forest Service.), Dave Henderson (SW Rep. of Audubon Society), Kent Newton (Ass't Dir. Albuquerque Biological Park). Other people of significance that assisted were Terry Johnson (Non-game & Endangered Species Branch Chief AGFD), Dave Parsons (Mexican Wolf Recovery team leader, USFWS), Wendy Brown (USFWS biologist), Colleen Buchanan (USFWS biologist), Bill Van Pelt (Non-game Program Mgr. AGFD), and last but certainly not the least Dan Groebner (Non-game specialist AGFD Region 1).
Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt opened the first crate that contained the pup. She showed some initial caution and apprehension about leaving the crate. Duane Shrouded (Dir. AGFD) opened the second crate that contained the "mom." After just a few seconds of sniffing the air and cautiously looking around, she bolted from the crate like a rocket. She went bouncing and prancing through the snow like a gazelle. I got goose bumps when I first saw her tongue flapping in the wind. Soon after seeing her "mom" romping through the snow, the pup bolted from the crate and they were quickly running side by side. And finally Bobbie Holladay pulled open the crate door to the "dad." The poor guy had situated himself in the crate with his head facing the back. he showed no indication that he wanted to come out. After about 30 anxious minutes it was decided to reposition the crate so that he could see his mate and offspring running in the snow. He still showed no inclination of wanting to come out. So finally it was decided that all the media people and anyone else not directly involved in monitoring the animals would be transported back to the lodge. Shortly after all these people left the area "dad" bolted from the crate and joined his pack.
When everyone gathered back at the Lodge there appeared to be two distinct behaviors. Those in the news media whose job it was to get their rendition of what transpired back to their respective studios and print rooms - and hose who had worked so hard for this event and who just relished and enjoyed the success of a well orchestrated and wondrous day. There was hugging and hand-shakes and pats on the back and congratulations being given by everyone to everyone.
This is the event that everyone saw. What was not seen occurred just days later. Another pair of Mexican wolves were released into the Turkey Creek acclimation pen that was located just miles away. Shortly after that , six more Mexican wolves were released into the Hawk's Nest acclimation pen. It will be a be a Mexican wolf recovery team group decision as to which of these groups are to be finally released into the wild and when. This decision will be based on the expert opinions of those who observe these animals and their behavior during the acclimation period and the knowledge that is now known about their instincts.
Due to my responsibilities to my own pack back at the Refuge I had to say good bye to my new 4-pawed friends and wish them well in their new life. On the long drive home I couldn't think of anything else but what they must be thinking as they investigate their new surroundings. I felt quite at ease to see those locals who opposed the reintroduction so docile in their protest. All I saw was about a half dozen people at a convenience store in Alpine, AZ with some protest signs. I felt a sense of fulfillment knowing that these magnificent animals are soon going to be enjoying (and enduring) the type of life for which they were intended.
The wolf is one of the earth's greatest teachers. For the sake of our future existence, I hope we soon allow ourselves to learn the vast wisdom they have to teach us.
May 8th-10th Stanford Powwow, Palo Alto CA
July 12thMcKinley Art Center, Reno NV
October (to be announced)
Wildlife Conservation Network Expo
San Francisco CA