Greg Costello: Note from the Executive Director

Working to save Wild Nature is not for the faint of heart or the impatient. Every day, Wildlands Network's staff performs great work in the field, but these achievements are not enough. If we are to realize our rewilding vision, part of our task is to return to our deep ecology roots and rekindle dialogue about the ethical and moral fabric of our lives—especially how this fabric relates to the inherent value of all species.

As you look at the state of our national affairs—the shallowness of what passes for conversation in 140 stream-of-consciousness characters—you might conclude that there is no moral or ethical fabric remaining in America, or at least that it is in tatters. Frankly, there are days when I might agree with you.

But we cannot turn our backs as if there’s no hope. We must initiate hard conversations about how our conduct as humans often unjustly impinges upon the right of other species to simply exist. In the words of Bill Lynn, author of our Rewilding Feature, we must reconnect with the ethics of rewilding

It is not our intention to just talk at you. That won’t get the job done. We hope you will talk back to us—through our new blog series, Trusting Wildness, and our other communications. Engage us in conversation. Engage your family, your neighbors, and your community. Speak up for all of those who can't tweet or vote. 

Photo: Nicky Elliot


Rewilding Feature: Deep Rewilding

Dr. Bill Lynn, research scientist and thought-leader in the field of ethics and sustainability, is especially passionate about human-animal relations. Through his teachings, writings, and presentations, Bill explores the complicated ethical terrain surrounding our co-existence with wolves and other wildlife, deeply probing the difficult questions of why and how we should care for nature and society. In this essay, Bill urges conservationists to think beyond the fundamental science of rewilding and reconnect with its ethical roots. 

Bill Lynn visits with his wolf friend Atka. Photo: J. Henry Fair


Apex Campaigns: Borderlands

In November, our borderlands team released Four Species on the Brink, a scientific report about four charismatic species—Sonoran pronghorn, jaguars, black bears and Mexican wolves—whose habitats and migratory routes would be disrupted by continued construction of the border wall, which largely fails to consider the biological and cultural richness of one of North America’s most diverse landscapes. In the hopes of giving influential decision-makers accurate information, the report presents a detailed history of U.S. and Mexican conservation efforts to preserve these flagship and umbrella species. 

Following the release of the report, our new Borderlands Coordinator, Myles Traphagen, flew to Washington, D.C., where he joined our Policy Director, Susan Holmes, in educating members of Congress about the destructive effects of the border wall on the wildlife and people who depend on the borderlands for their survival. Meanwhile, our Western Program Director, Katie Davis, gave an interview for the Center for Western Priorities the catastrophic environmental cost of building the border wall, highlighting the report.

Photo: Gary M. Stolz


Wildlands Network Policy Update

Last October, Wildlands Network co-hosted a successful public event at the U.S. Capitol, where renowned biologist E.O. Wilson took to the stage with Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) to discuss the importance of wildlife corridors, climate change, the extinction crisis, and the urgent need for big thinking among today's conservationists. These inspirational leaders called for a National Wildlife Corridors System to protect native wildlife populations in the U.S.—one of the key components of the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act introduced by Rep. Beyer in 2016. 

The facilitated conversation between Wilson, Beyer, and Udall was followed by a dynamic panel discussion about wildlife corridors. Panelists comprised six accomplished conservation scientists, including Wildlands Network's Dr. Ron Sutherland—who unveiled WN's Half-East map as a visionary guide for protecting roughly half the land and water from eastern Canada to the Florida Everglades. 

Our D.C.-based Policy Director, Susan Holmes, continues to work closely with Rep. Beyer as he prepares to reintroduce the bill in 2018 with bi-partisan support and with Senator Udall, who seeks to introduce similar, bi-partisan corridor legislation in the Senate. In concert with advancing this federal legislation, we are collaborating with state legislators to promote connectivity in state policies.

Dr. E.O. Wilson. Photo: Peter Hershey


Eastern Wildway Focus

In October, our own Maggie Ernest organized the second Eastern Conservation Summit. The summit provided an opportunity for partners working along the Eastern Wildway to update each other on their efforts and accomplishments, learn more about state and federal connectivity legislation, and enjoy nature together. 

Wildlands Network’s Conservation Scientist, Dr. Ron Sutherland, also unveiled our draft Eastern Wildway map and led an interactive discussion on how to refine and improve it. Members of other conservation groups added their on-the-ground knowledge based on their own specific project areas within the Wildway.

In other Eastern news, our wildways trekker, John Davis, spent a couple of weeks hiking along the proposed Algonquin to Adirondack (A2A) connection that would link Algonquin Provincial Park in Canada with New York’s Adirondack Park. In two blog posts, John details his whimsical encounters with wildlife, highlights a particularly wet and rainy day on the trail, and reflects on the rewards of finding a like-minded community of friends and conservationists along the way.

Photo: Wildlands Network


Western Wildway Focus

Wildlands Network joined national conservation partners in responding to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) deeply flawed final Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, released in November. Our joint press release details how the plan ignores the best available science and panders to political interests to justify severely limiting the Mexican wolf populations to numbers well below those considered necessary for recovery.

Following the release of the final recovery plan, Western Conservation Director Kim Crumbo gave an interview with northern Utah’s KRCL about how the USFWS even ignored the scientific recommendations of its own planning group and thereby hindered the recovery of the endangered Mexican wolf.

In December, we successfully nominated the Mexican wolf (and the wolverine) to the Endangered Species Coalition’s Top 10 Endangered Species List, calling out the appalling lack of science-based recommendations in the USFWS’s final recovery plan.

Photo: Juan Carlos Bravo


Wildlands Network in the News

  • AlexandriaNews covered our successful event in Washington, D.C. with Dr. Edward O. Wilson and Rep. Don Beyer, which focused on a solutions-based conversation tackling wildlife and habitat connectivity issues across the country. 
  • Dr. Ron Sutherland is quoted in this piece from Earth Touch News Network, which highlights Wildlands Network’s ongoing efforts to survey rare and endangered red wolves with camera-traps.
  • Inspired by our Four Species on the Brink report and quoting Mexico Program Director Juan Carlos Bravo, El Sol de Mexico published this beautifully illustrated spread that details how the construction of the border wall would negatively impact wildlife—including pronghorn, black bears, Mexican wolves and jaguars—that depend on a permeable U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Kim Crumbo’s letter to the editor of the Arizona Daily Sun contests David Wolf’s recent commentary, “Anti-lion Hunting Initiative Makes No Scientific Sense.” Crumbo compellingly and scientifically justifies the anti-lion hunting initiative proposed by Arizonans for Wildlife for the 2018 ballot.

Photo: Tom Koerner, USFWS


Take Action to Save Your National Monuments

At the end of 2017, President Trump signed an order significantly reducing Bear Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah. Wildlands Network determinedly opposes such attacks on our national monuments, which provide critical room to roam and other resources for wildlife inhabiting our wildways. Take back your national monuments and wild places from the Trump Administration. 

Bears Ears National Monument. Photo: Bob Wick, BLM


Upcoming Events

  • In collaboration with the Albemarle Conservation and Wildlife Chapter, Dr. Ron Sutherland will give a presentation highlighting our work to preserve the endangered red wolf.
  • In March, join Wildlands Network, researchers, and citizen scientists at the Border BioBlitz to document the borderlands' stunning biological diversity at several key sites.
  • Wildlands Network and Wild Virginia will host several showings of films from the Wild and Scenic Film Festival in April and May. Stay tuned for more details, including screening times and how to buy tickets.

Photo: Becky Bartell, USFWS


Wild Image

Our red wolf camera-trap project in North Carolina, led by Dr. Ron Sutherland, captured this image of a black bear surveying the landscape at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. 


Coming Next Issue: In an exclusive Wildlands Network interview, author and ethicist Dr. Marc Bekoff (professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado) discusses the ethical complexities of wildlife reintroductions.


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