Congress could end red wolf recovery

Canis rufus

It should be noted that the bulk of the genomic data show that the creature called a “red wolf” is actually a hybrid between some now extinct population of wolves and coyotes. Indeed, the most in depth genome comparison study performed on wolves and coyotes not only revealed that “red” and “Eastern” wolves are hybrids, it also revealed that coyotes were recent derivatives from Eurasian wolves and not ancient North American jackals.  Thus, the whole population of wild Canis in North America is much more closely related than we assumed.

Most of the data supporting the red wolf’s validity as a species are based upon fossil and subfossil evidence, which tended to show that the creatures being bred for introduction in the wild look an awful lot like ancient North American wolves.

But it now seems that the animals running loose in North Carolina are actually wolves with lots of coyote ancestry.

That’s what the science is telling us, and as I noted back in 2011, when this evidence from genome-wide analyses was being published, that it wouldn’t be long before politicians noticed a problem and began to use red wolves to chip away at the ESA.

I support the ESA, but I’ve long thought that adhering to red and Eastern wolf paradigms could cause real problems with the act’s long-term viability.

I recently had the pleasure of reading Nate Blakeslee’s American Wolf, which is a biography of a Yellowstone wolf named “O-Six.”  O-Six was the breeding female of the Lamar Valley pack, a wolf widely photographed in the park. She was a great elk hunter and mother, and because she was so well-known in the park, she became a sort of celebrity.

O-Six died from a hunter’s bullet, and her death never would have happened had the Democratic-controlled Senate not allowed a provision in a government funding bill to pass, which overturned a federal judge’s ruling that stopped a proposal that would have allowed Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming to regulate wolves as a state matter.  It was allowed to pass in order to provide immunity to Montana’s incumbent Democratic Senator, Jon Tester, who was facing a tough re-election.

This political drama is carefully described in Blakeslee’s work, and although little was made of it at the time, this provision was the first time congress had intervened on ESA listing in this manner.

Flash forward to 2017, and it looks like the Republican-controlled congress is about to do the something similar to red wolves. Senator Lisa Murkowski has introduced a provision the bill funding the interior department that declares the red wolf extinct in the wild and cuts all funding for its recovery.

This is problematic on many fronts.

First of all, the Endangered Species Act was designed to use scientific evidence for listing and recovery efforts. For most of its existence, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has been left to use science for these efforts, but now congress has begun to intervene to affect endangered species policy citing political concerns only.

Part of the reason why congress is doing such a thing is that the US Fish and Wildlife service has pretty much been impervious to the growing data on what red wolves actually are. The bureaucracy still maintains Canis rufus as a species, but the evidence that it is a recently derived hybrid between the wolf and the coyote is pretty hard to ignore.

Whenever I’ve pointed out these problems, I’ve been called a wolf-hater and a right-winger and a Republican. I’m none of the three.

The problem is that wolves are political symbols.  Every wildlife conservation organization in the country uses wolves for fundraising. Wolves have two things going for them: they are the wild ancestors of dogs and they tend to recovery fairly quickly when not persecuted.  It is easy to turn the wolf into sort of the canine equivalent of the noble savage, a dog that lives in nature, wild and free, and with greater wisdom and intelligence than any mere cur of the street.

To others, the wolf is the federal government coming for your hunting rights, your farming enterprises, and your guns.

So we now have this dynamic in which our political issues with each other are being meted out over an animal.

This says much more about us than it does the actual biology of wolves and coyotes. We are fractious. We are at war with each other.

The romantic notions of a unique Southern wolf species has been racked convincing in depth genomic data that show it is hybrid have come to pass just at the same time that a resurgent right wing has taken over the US government at all three branches. This is a perfect storm for disaster for the Endangered Species Act.

Until the Republican majorities in congress are reduced significantly, the red wolf will ultimately be used to undermine the act.

It is a very sad state of affairs, but the US Fish and Wildlife Service clearly did a lot to anger sportsmen in Eastern North Carolina, as this thread clearly shows, and the Endangered Species Act will not last if this sort of implementation is ever repeated again.

No real solution for this problem exists. I would put money on the red wolf being delisted. I should be glad that the ESA has gone onto preserve other predators, like the Mexican wolf and Florida panther, but because it is happening in this fashion, it could be a real disaster.

And all because of this wolf, not a real species at all, but one in which many lines of nonsense on both sides have been written.






Natural History

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Puerto Rico Pup Leads Officials to Her Trapped Owner

Agua the Puerto Rican Dog

Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Many people and pets in Puerto Rico are still recovering from the devastation Hurricane Maria caused almost two months ago. However, heroes of both the human and animal variety are showing their true colors in the aftermath. One little dog, named Agua, was named “a four-legged hero” by the U.S. Department of the Interior on Twitter.

According to KKTV, James Casey, an employee with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was working in Puerto Rico on a mission for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. James was assessing the security of a closed hospital in Humaco with about 30 others when they spotted a small dog wearing a sweater.

“We were curious as to why a dog would be wearing a sweater alone in this area,” James told reporters. He added that their attention was also piqued because “the dog kept going up and down the hill.”

Intrigued, James and the others decided to follow the dog. At the bottom of the hill, they found a woman trapped under a scooter. She was Agua’s owner and had been attempting to reach the hospital. Due to the terrain, there was an accident and the scooter rolled on top of the woman. The woman was trapped and had prior medical issues that meant she desperately needed the team’s help.

James described where they found the woman as “abandoned” and “littered with debris.” He continued, “if it wasn’t for this little dog, it would have been likely she would not have been found and possibly perished.”

Because Agua not only caught the team’s attention, but led them to her owner, they were able to assist before it was too late. According to the Department of the Interior, the team radioed another official who was able to coordinate with hospital doctors so the team could immediately respond to the woman’s needs. Another member of the team was able to grab an ambulance to transport the woman to an emergency department. That evening, after the owner had been treated, Agua was able to be reunited with the woman she had saved.

James told reporters that the team was impressed by the dog’s devotion and quick actions. He said, “We all voted Agua the dog the hero of our mission.” Maybe soon Agua will have a cape to go with her sweater!

Halo Pets

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My Cat & Dog Film Festivals Are Coming To NYC This Weekend!

Dog Film Festival in New York City - December 10th

I am more excited than I was as a 3-year-old when there was a clown and pony rides at my birthday party! In 48 hours my NY Cat and Dog Film Festivals are going to take over the SVA Theatre in Chelsea and light up the hearts of pet lovers in New York City and the surrounding area.

The big difference between this and my childhood party excitement is that there are a lot more people coming to the “parties” I’m throwing this weekend in New York City. And I sure hope you will have a chance to join us for a once-in-a-lifetime experience of sharing with like-minded animal lovers the bond you feel with pets. I truly hope to share this experience with many of the people who listen to my pet talk radio shows ad meet them in person.

Leanne Italie wrote an insightful paean to the festivals for the Associated Press (AP) and the Washington Post was the first to grab her story. The separate festivals are on different days – Saturday afternoon December 9th for the premiere of the NY Cat Film Festival™ and Sunday the 10th for the 3rd Annual NY Dog Film Festival™. Both festivals consist of two separate programs of completely different short films (animated, documentary and narrative) which each have an incredible medley of short films celebrating the species of choice.

The Cats Have Their Day!
For the first time ever, the NY Cat Film Festival™ will premiere with an intellectual and emotional roller-coaster ride for cat lovers, similar to what dog aficionados have experienced with the NY Dog Film Festival™ for two years. The NY Cat Film Festival™ is funded by Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat, a wonderful family-owned, philanthropic Colorado-based business, with all their products developed by Dr. Elsey himself, a feline-only veterinarian. The festival features two 70-minute programs of short films that explore our fascination with the felines who share our world. Gina from Dr. Elsey’s is flying in from Colorado to hand out samples and coupons from Elsey’s Precious Cat, with the help of volunteers from the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s animals, which has a Feral Cat Initiative, which is the beneficiary of a portion of every ticket.

Today in the New York Times, Laurel Graeber wrote this INCREDIBLE piece about the NY Cat Film Festival™. I am bursting with happiness and gratitude that she captured the essence of what it’s all about – two completely different programs of short films focused on cats. The programs are 70 minutes long each, one at 3:00 PM and the second at 4:30 PM. Get information about all the films and how to buy tickets (and I do recommend buying ahead of time because we are getting close to selling out and that’s even before other people read those wonderful articles I just shared with you!).

The Dogs are Going Strong for a 3rd Year
The 3rd Annual NY Dog Film Festival™ will take on Sunday December 10th As I wrote last week, the initial funding for the NY Dog Film Festival™ came from Halo – who then passed the baton to the philanthropic Petco Foundation to that the festival could travel the country last year and going into 2018. Pura Naturals Pet is a sponsor of the festival and the first 300 ticket buyers to each of the two programs will get a sample of their organic shampoo and wipes. Weruva pet food is a sponsor of the dog festival and will be there distributing samples of their good-enough-for-people-to-eat food.

Goodie bag for Dog Film Festival

The Filmmakers Get Their Swag Bag of Goodies!
There are so many terrific filmmakers flying in from around the country, and even abroad, that I had to do something a little special to fete them. The photos show all the lovely gifts they’ll be receiving in their very nice carry bags – CAT CHAT® baseball caps for the cat folks and a branded Dog Film festival leash and t-shirt for the canine crowd. My favorite interactive cat toy, the Nekoflies, went to every cat filmmaker as well. Halo® put freeze-dried Liv-a-Little salmon in the cat bags and the chicken Liv-a-Littles for the dogs, along with canned food for each species, as well. For the feline filmmakers, Jackson Galaxy graciously put his new book TOTAL CAT MOJO in their bags, as did Rita Mae Brown with her Mrs. Murphy mystery “Tall Tail,” while dog filmmakers receive Heather Weston’s gorgeous picture book, “Canines of New York” and “Loyal: 38 Inspiring Tales of Bravery, Heroism and the Devotion of Dogs,” by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh. Pura Naturals put in big bottles of organic, cruelty-free lavender cat or dog shampoo, and has a thank-you for every filmmaker, too: flashlight flashdrives with Moleskin memo pad.

Goodie bag for Cat Film Festival

There will be volunteers from our beneficiary, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, and others from NYC Animal Care Center to let people know about how to foster and adopt, all “waving the flag about the great animals for adoption among the more than 150 rescue groups the Mayor’s Alliance supports. Student members of the Stuyvesant School Canine Appreciation Club will be on hand again, helping me greet and seat people and make sure everyone has an optimal time.

Won’t you join me for this very special weekend?

Tracie HotchnerTracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK®  (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.

Dog Film Festival - Tracie HotchnerTracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.

Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.

Halo Pets

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What is Gobi?

This little dog was discovered in the Gobi desert in China on 155-mile race.

The thinking that this dog is a “chihuahua cross” is a bit wrong, I think. I think she’s something a bit more special than that.

I think she is a landrace East Asian toy dog, the ancestral form that leads to the Pekingese, the original pug, the Japanese chin, and other dogs of this type.

I don’t there are many chihuahuas in the Gobi Desert, and she certainly should have her DNA tested.

Natural History

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Domestication goes on

In my lifetime, I’ve seen African pygmy hedgehogs for sale as exotic pets.

I now see them bred in fancy color varieties.

We’ve bred so many interesting and often strange forms of domestic animals, but now we’re breeding hedgehogs like we do rats or sheep.

As a North American, hedgehogs are as exotic to me as kangaroos.

But people keep them as pets.

I don’t mind it at all.

Domestication goes on.  Maybe we’ll have new varieties of fennec foxes.

Or kinkajous.

Our fascination with nature pushes us into these directions. Our love for novelty and oddity takes us down many rabbit holes.

But domestication requires refining the oddity, distilling it into a strain.

And that’s where this all ends up.



Natural History

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November Golden Poodle awards

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Sparkling White Winter Sangria

Sparkling Winter White Sangria

Thank you VOVETI for sponsoring this post. Elevate your entertaining this season with VOVETI Prosecco.

My fellow summer worshippers will likely agree that there is nothing quite like relaxing in the sunshine in sunglasses and flip flops, feet kicked up, with a glass of fresh, fruity sangria. When I visualize all of my favorite summertime stereotypes (which I do, and often), sangria makes an appearance much of the time.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in one of my longing-for-summer states of mind, and I decided that I needed to come up with a new version of sangria that would be more appropriate for wintertime. I ended up creating a seriously delicious sparkling winter white sangria. I don’t use brandy or a ton of fruit juice like you normally find in traditional sangrias, so it’s nice and crisp, and doesn’t mask the flavor of the prosecco. So good.

Sparkling Winter White Sangria
Sparkling Winter White Sangria


1 bottle (750 ML) VOVETI Prosecco, chilled
1/2 cup fresh clementine or orange juice
2-4 tablespoons sugar (depending on level of sweetness desired)
4-6 clementines, peeled and separated into segments
1 apple (we like Fuji), cut into small cubes
1 cup of fresh cranberries

In a large pitcher, combine the VOVETI clementine or orange juice, and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add clementines, apples, and cranberries. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Pour into glasses and top with a squeeze of fresh clementine juice. Enjoy!

Sparkling Winter White Sangria
Sparkling Winter White Sangria
Sparkling Winter White Sangria
Sparkling Winter White Sangria

I love using VOVETI for this cocktail, because its level of dryness and delicious hints of fruit make it perfect for sangria. I’m also a big fan of the fact that it has more bubbles than any other prosecco. If you’re not yet familiar with VOVETI, it’s brut style DOC with tempered acuity and a fresh, graceful profile, making it a great aperitif before a meal with friends, or an evening cocktail to enjoy with your partner (or by yourself!). I always have a bottle chilling in the fridge. (It makes a killer mimosa too!)

Sparkling Winter White Sangria

While this sparkling white sangria could easily be enjoyed in the summertime too, I think it’s perfect for the winter months. Robbie, who is mostly a beer drinker, loves it as much as I do. In fact, it’s become one of our go-to night caps after the kids go to bed and we want to spend a few minutes together just chilling. Sometimes we just make individual servings with VOVETI mini bottles instead of a full size. Either way, it’s so easy to whip together. I’m looking forward to making it for friends next time we host a gathering. If you try it, I’d love to hear what you think too!

Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Salute to Old Dogs on Giving Tuesday

Looking at my 10-year old Beagle, Penny, I have old dogs on my heart today. Since it’s Giving Tuesday, I would encourage you to donate your time and / or money to a shelter near you that serves old souls. Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Dog Blog

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Cannabis for canines, pot for pooches, good idea or not?

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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I believe this project actually helps educate peop…

I believe this project actually helps educate people on both pitbulls and "wolfdogs" by reducing overbreeding and showing how wonderful blockheads can be as mentor dogs. Good work.

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