Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 12-18: Wolf Awareness Week and National Wildlife Refuge Week

It’s Wolf Awareness Week!  Since 1996, this national event has served to educate folks on the roles wolves play in different natural communities.  During Wolf Awareness Week, we encourage you to recognize the importance of wolves as an integral part of our landscapes and to engage others to become interested and active in wolf conservation.  Many of our partner organizations are hosting Wolf Awareness Week events and have provided educational resources to continue spreading the word.
2014 Wolf Awareness Week Poster by Aaron Yount.
Each year, the Timber Wolf Alliance hosts an art contest to select the vision for the current year's Wolf Awareness Week poster. If you’re interested in ordering this year’s poster, you can request one here.
Wolf Awareness Week is also National Wildlife Refuge Week  this year! Since Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge in 1903, the National Wildlife Refuge System has become the nation’s premier habitat conservation network, encompassing more than 150 million acres in 560 refuges and 38 wetland management districts. You can check out special events and programs through the National Wildlife Refuge System here. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Welcome Ryan, our fall red wolf caretaker intern!

Please help us welcome our most recent addition to the Red Wolf Recovery Program, Ryan!  He will be the red wolf caretaker intern at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) for September through December 2014. 

Ryan was born and raised in Alton, Illinois, which is located just across the Mississippi River in the suburbs of Saint Louis, Missouri. He graduated in May 2013 from Southeast Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife/Conservation Biology and a minor in Environmental Science. After graduation, he worked for the Missouri Department of Conservation as a fisheries field biologist traveling statewide sampling various fish species and performing water quality surveys in streams and rivers. He also was an intern at The Wilds in Ohio, and participated in their Eastern Hellbender reintroduction program.  At The Wilds, he also assisted with herpetology and carnivore field and research work. Most recently, he has been interning at Pocosin Lakes NWR since April before joining us this month.

Ryan has always enjoyed being outside and seeing what nature has to offer. In his spare time he likes to hike, fish, camp, travel, attend sporting events (especially St. Louis Cardinals baseball), and spend time with family and friends. His goal is to become a wildlife biologist or zookeeper working with carnivores, fish, or herpetology. He hopes to eventually attend graduate school to get his M.Sc. degree and further a career in wildlife research and conservation. He is passionate about working with endangered and threatened species, especially carnivores.

We’re lucky to have Ryan as he brings a wonderful skill set of animal handling skills, knowledge of carnivore biology, and passion to protect and conserved imperiled species to this position. 

Welcome Ryan!

Monday, July 28, 2014

RWSSP of the month--Akron Zoo, host of 2014 RWSSP meeting

The Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (RWSSP) is the foundation of the Red Wolf Recovery Program. To let people know what’s happening throughout the program through, we are continuing to feature different RWSSP locations.  The RWSSP of the month is the Akron Zoo in Akron, Ohio.  In 1900, George and Ann Perkins donated 79 acres of land to be designated as a public park.  In 1979, the zoo changed its name to the Akron Zoological Park. In addition, the City of Akron turned over governance of the zoo to the Board of Trustees when the zoo became a non-profit organization.  The Zoo has expanded enormously in the past 30 years, adding numerous exhibits and features. In 2013, it opened its largest exhibit to date: the Mike & Mary Stark Grizzly Ridge exhibit, which features bald eagles, an aviary, grizzly bears, otters, red wolves and coyotes.

We are very excited to have Akron Zoo as one of the newest RWSSP locations, joining the network in 2013. Currently, they have two female sibling red wolves (1856F and 1857F) that were born in 2011 at Miller Park Zoo (Bloomington, IL).  These two new additions to the zoo bring a lot of new visitors!

Akron Zoo offers multiple programs and opportunities for folks to learn about the zoo including a variety of tours and programs including Keeper for a Day, and Zoo Veterinarian for a Day.  Please check out their website for more information.
Captive red wolf, Akron Zoo. Photo credit: R. Harrison/UFSWS.
Captive red wolf, Akron Zoo. Photo credit: R. Harrison/UFSWS.
Just last week, the Akron Zoo hosted the 2014 RWSSP annual meeting. More than 25 participants from 20 locations met over three days to discuss husbandry methods and techniques, current and ongoing red wolf research, and facility updates.  The majority the meeting is dedicated to examining all the available breeding wolves in the RWSSP network (across 40+ locations) to see if individuals need to be moved from facility to facility to form the best potential breeding pairs.  With more than 175 breeding red wolves in the captive population, this is no small feat.  Age, health history, genetic relatedness, and logistical difficulties of transferring animals are all taken into consideration when deciding new pairs.  We are hopeful for safe transfers, successful pairings, and more pups next spring!

A tied breeding red wolf pair during breeding season. Photo credit: Greg Dodge.
We would like to extend a big thank you to the RWSSP Coordinator, Will, for organizing everyone for the meeting and the Akron Zoo Curator of Mammals, Eric, to hosting us all!  Thank you to the staff, volunteers, and supporters at the Akron Zoo!!

Please visit their website or Facebook page for more information.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

RWSSP of the month—Endangered Wolf Center

The Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (RWSSP) is the foundation of the Red Wolf Recovery Program. To let people know what’s happening throughout the program through, we are continuing to feature different RWSSP locations.  

The RWSSP of the month is the Endangered Wolf Center (EWC) in Eureka, Missouri, founded by Marlin and Carol Perkins.  Marlin Perkins is most recognized from the popular television show “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” that was in production in the 1960s and 1970s.  In these episodes, he took the opportunity to educate audiences on rare animals and their native habitats. In 1971, they turned their attention on conservation of wolves and founded the EWC with the help of others. These visionary founders believed that no ecosystem could thrive without the top predator in place. For more than 40 years, this nonprofit organization has played a pivotal role in wolf conservation through carefully managed breeding programs, educating the public about wolves, and establishing a partnership with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to facilitate the release of endangered canids back into native habitats.

The Center is located on 63 isolated wooded acres near St. Louis and currently conserves and maintains five different species of endangered canids.  EWC has participated in the RWSSP since the early years of the program.  Since 1981, EWC has housed red wolves and immediately had success in captive breeding efforts, with litters born annually from 1982-1987.  The individuals born at EWC during this time included one of the original 8 animals released in 1987 at the current reintroduction site in northeastern North Carolina, 10205F.  This female red wolf is incredibly important in the recovery timeline, as she was the first animal to give birth in the wild (in 1988) after red wolves were reintroduced.  Over the years, 11 litters with 36 pups in total were born at EWC.
Red wolf at EWC. Photo credit: Ashley Brown.
The EWC is currently home to three red wolves, including breeding pair 1790M and 1586F.  1402M is currently solo after the recent loss of his mate, 1593F, to complications from whelping.  Both 1402M and 1790M arrived at EWC in early 2011, from the Wildlife Science Center (Columbus, MN), and Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago, IL), respectively.  1586F was transferred from Fossil Rim Wildlife Center (Glen Rose, TX) in fall of 2012.
Red wolf breeding pair, 1586F and 1790M, at EWC. Photo credit: Ashley Brown.
The Endangered Wolf Center has also played a large role in red wolf education efforts, both within the RWSSP and public events at the site.  EWC offers multiple programs and opportunities for folks to learn about wolves including a variety of tours, howling events, camps, scout programs, and special events.  Please check out their calendar for more information and full event schedule.

Thank you to the staff, volunteers, and supporters at the Endangered Wolf Center!!

Please visit their website or Facebook page for more information!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Space use of red wolves and coyotes-guest blogger, Dr. Joey Hinton

***Guest Blogger!***

This week, Dr. Joey Hinton, a recent graduate from the University of Georgia, joins us to describe some of his research focused on interactions between red wolves and coyotes in northeastern North Carolina.

Like many endangered species, we know very little about red wolf ecology because they were reduced to a single remnant population before scientists could study their behaviors. Human-caused mortality and red wolf hybridization with coyotes threaten red wolf recovery efforts. Despite these challenges, successful restoration of red wolves will occur in human-altered landscapes with the presence coyote populations. Therefore, understanding red wolf and coyote ecology is fundamental to successful recovery. Conducting studies on large endangered carnivores is challenging and I was fortunate to collaborate with the

Photos by J. Hinton.

 From 2009 through 2011, I assisted Red Wolf Recovery Program biologists with trapping red wolves and coyotes and radio-collaring individuals with global position system (GPS) radio-collars. GPS collars allowed us to collect locations on red wolves and coyotes 5-12 times/ day. With these data, I calculated the size and habitat composition of red wolf and coyote territories. These data provide insights into how red wolves and coyotes use and move through the landscape. 
Dr. Hinton and RWRP biologist fitting an animal with a radio collar.
Both species were mostly nocturnal with approximately 80% of all their movements occurring between sunset and sunrise. We found red wolves and coyotes to use similar habitats and preferred open, treeless agricultural areas over forested areas. Typically, red wolves and coyotes seek cover in agricultural crops (when available), fallow fields with high vegetation, and forested areas during the day. Once night came, both species leave cover and use open fields, forest edges, and dirt roads to hunt and defend territories.

Red wolf with GPS collar. Photo by J. Hinton.
We also found red wolves and coyotes to have two space use statuses: residents and transients. Residents are breeders and their offspring that maintain territories, whereas transients are typically young dispersing individuals with the intent to establish territories and reproduce. Transients rarely have breeding opportunities because they are solitary and nomadic until they find a mate. As a result, transients traverse over larger areas than residents do. For instance, transient red wolves and coyotes commonly traversed areas of 30 to 300 mi2 before establishing territories with a mate. This period can be between 2 weeks to 2 years. Once transients became residents, they establish territories that are much smaller. Red wolves typically defend areas about 19 mi2 whereas coyote territories are smaller at approximately 10 mi2.
Thank you to Dr. Hinton for sharing! Stay tuned for more research updates soon from our partners!