Part of the mission of the National Wolfwatcher Coalition is to support all efforts that safeguard the natural habitat of the wolf to ensure its future sustainability. Sadly, suitable wolf habitat is being fragmented at an alarming rate in our nation, and wildlife travel corridors that are necessary to maintain genetic viability among wolf populations (and those of other species) are being cut off.
The map below was provided by Jim Hammill. Jim is a retired DNR Wildlife Biologist and former Board member of the International Wolf Center. He reported:
"The image shows only part of the issue with parcelization of land in "wolf country" here in the Midwest. Formerly corporate timber lands are now owned by timber management organizations (TIMO) or real estate investment trusts (REITS). These owners often sell off the best (highest value) land in smaller parcels and keep the core areas for eventual sale to other large entities like themselves....but with each transaction losses occur, resulting in more parcelization. Also the intergenerational transfer of properties is expected to occur at record setting levels in the next decade or so, resulting in "new" owners (younger family members) who often do not have the ties to the land that their parents/grandparents have had....result, more parcelization. Large home range species, especially wolves, are on a collision course with land use trends in the Midwest. I have a great concern that core habitat areas and especially, corridors of immigration will hamper the overall welfare of wolves in the western great lakes states."
The pink color represents the areas where private lands are predicted to change from "forest" classification to "housing" classification in the next
twenty years. In Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan,
much of those private lands are in wolf habitat.
Wolfwatcher's Tara Morrison in Minnesota wolf country
Inspired by Mr. Hammill's presentation at a recent conference, the National Wolfwatcher Coalition has launched an initiative that seeks to partner with and support organizations whose work includes habitat preservation. This includes reaching out to larger environmental organizations, conservancy groups, etc. as well as smaller land trusts and other organizations. If you have connections to an organization that is involved in land conservation in areas that have wolves, or used to have wolves, please let us know, or have that organization contact Wolfwatcher's Director of Land Preservation, Tara Morrison.
Tara, Isle Royale, Michigan wolf country 2011
If you are a land owner who lives in areas inhabited by wolves or near wolf habitat, please consider permanent protection of your land by working with a land trust or conservancy group. A land trust is a private, non-profit organization that uses land donations, conservation easements, strategic estate planning and land purchases to protect land from development and the resulting habitat destruction/fragmentation. Please contact Tara for more information and assistance in locating a group in your area.
Bob Marshall Wilderness,
Montana wolf country
Wolfwatcher has recently partnered with the Greater Yellowstone Coalition which has worked for many years to preserve critical habitat and travel corridors for many species in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem such as wolves, grizzly bears, lynx, and wolverines. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one of the 12 largest completely intact ecosystems in the world. It also contains the headwaters of three large and important rivers.
As noted by the map below, wildlife in the Greater Yellowstone region (primary boundary shown by the orange line) face the daunting task of traveling over many roads in their attempt to expand their territory and diversify the gene pool in a given area when they seek to find a mate or even prey.
|Greater Yellowstone Region and Surrounding Roads|
(provided by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and Redstone)
Summit of Huckleberry Mountain, Glacier National Park, near the north fork where wolves dispersed naturally into Montana
We applaud and support the efforts of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition which help to maintain what few roadless areas remain in this region. We also celebrate their recent victory in a third critical court battle to protect the wild core of Montana's Gallatin Range - which is the last and largest wild mountain tract bordering Yellowstone National Park. This decision means that the Gallatin National Forest will continue to limit snowmobile access in the Gallatin Range, protecting important winter habitat and wildlife travel corridors. In addition to development and roads, this region also faces the threat of oil and natural gas drilling which can lead to pollution, roads, and development which can negatively impact wildlife habitat in multiple ways. We urge you to visit the Greater Yellowstone Coalition's website to learn more about their work.
Wolfwatcher has also joined the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition (LWCF). The LWCF is the nation's premier land conservation program for lands, waters and America's outdoor recreation. We will be showcasing their efforts in a future article. We also enthusiastically support the efforts of the Gathering Waters Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin, WildEarth Guardians and more partnerships are being formed weekly.
Tara and "Brit" in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, MT
Occasionally, we will be sending out action alerts via our website and Facebook page to support the efforts of these and other partner organizations who share our mission. We urge you to support them. If we continue to lose wolf habitat, we will eventually have fewer wild wolves. We've fought hard to recover wolf populations throughout our nation. Now, we must fight to maintain their habitat so that their populations can remain strong and viable.
For more information please contact
Wolfwatcher's Director of Land Preservation