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!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Welcome Jeremy, our summer red wolf caretaker intern!

Please help us welcome our most recent addition to the Red Wolf Recovery Program, Jeremy!  He will be the red wolf caretaker intern April through August 2014. 

Jeremy was born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri. As a high school student, he began volunteering in the Saint Louis Zoo’s Zoo ALIVE teen education program.  Soon after, he joined the Zoo’s education department as a full-time employee.  At the Zoo, his mission is to nurture respect for animals and their habitats, and to promote conservation action by providing educational opportunities and experiences.  After five years assisting with these educational programs, Jeremy switched gears and is now a seasonal carnivore keeper at the Zoo. He is excited to see the new Andean bear, sun bear, and painted dog habitats--all of which will open this summer!

Jeremy graduated from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis in May of 2013 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. He is considering attending graduate school to earn a a Masters in conservation biology with a focus on carnivores.  Jeremy also has spent some time at another Red Wolf Species Survival Plan facility, the Endangered Wolf Center (EWC; Saint Louis, MO).  He participated in the EWC internship program and continues to volunteer there. He is very thankful to the EWC for inspiring him to pursue a career working with carnivores.

Jeremy and wild red wolf pup in the Red Wolf Recovery Area.
We’re lucky to have Jeremy as he brings a wealth of education and outreach experience, animal handling skills, and knowledge of carnivore biology to this position.  During the summer, we receive many visitors to this region and we’re grateful for his assistance and outreach support.

Welcome Jeremy!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

RWSSP site of the month--Wolf Conservation 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, we are continuing to feature different RWSSP locations.  The RWSSP of the month is the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) in South Salem, New York.  WCC was founded in 1999 by Hélène Grimaud, as a private, not-for-profit environmental education organization. The WCC’s mission is to promote wolf conservation by teaching about wolves, their relationship to the environment, and the human role in protecting their future. The WCC accomplishes this mission through onsite and offsite education programs emphasizing wolf biology, the ecological benefits of wolves and other large predators, and the current status of wolf recovery in the United States.
Captive red wolf at WCC.  Photo credit: Rebecca Bose.

In 2003, the WCC joined the RWSSP program.  Additionally, the WCC also participates in the SSP for another critically endangered wolf species, the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi). Since then, WCC has grown both their wolf population and their staff, with 30 wolves and 4 full-time employees (and many talented volunteers!).  They have established 19 acres of protected land as home for their SSP programs, Ambassador wolf populations, and education programs.

Captive red wolf at WCC.  Photo credit: Rebecca Bose.
The WCC is currently home to four red wolves, including two breeding pairs 1394M and 1291F and 1565M and 1397F. Of these animals, 1291F has been a resident WCC the longest amount of time.  She arrived in 2004 from Trevor Zoo (Millbrook, NY). Her mate, M1394 was transferred to WCC from Mill Mountain (Roanoke, Virginia) in 2011. The other pair is a more recently duo, with M1565 arriving from St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge (Florida) in December 2013 (read about his journey here).  F1397 came to WCC from the North Carolina Zoo (Asheboro, NC) in 2009.  From their website, you can observe F1397 and M1565 through the den and exclosure cameras in their exhibit.

Captive red wolf at WCC.  Photo credit: Rebecca Bose.
Wolf Conservation Center has also played a large role in red wolf education efforts, both within the RWSSP network and through public events at the site.  WCC offers multiple programs and opportunities for kids to learn about wolves, use telemetry tracking tools, and meet wolf ambassadors. Registration for four day summer programs for grades 2-3 and grades 4-6 is currently open.

Thank you Wolf Conservation Center!! Special thanks to WCC's Curator, Rebecca Bose, for sharing her amazing photographs of the red wolves at WCC!

Please visit their website or Facebook page for more information!