Thursday, May 27, 2010

2010 pup season drawing to a close

As the days grow longer and hotter during spring’s transition into summer, field biologists with the Red Wolf Recovery Program also begin a transition. April and early May represent the ever busy denning season, during which biologists spend the majority of their time creeping through the woods in search of newborn red wolf puppies. The current tally of litters found this year stands at eight, a bit of a disappointment after finding 11 litters a year ago. But this year's pup count is 39, which was close to last year's 41 pups. In addition, two captive born pups were flown in from the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago and fostered into a wild litter to be raised by wild parents . Fostering captive born pups into wild litters is a technique we have used for several years now (with great success!) as a method of both increasing the red wolf population and preserving genetic diversity.

Now, as summer approaches and the pups get older, the search for additional dens will diminish as biologists begin to make the transition to summertime trapping, maintenance, and catching up on office work. We will, however, continue to monitor the wolf packs throughout the summer months for evidence of potential litters that may have been missed during the denning season. -- Ryan

Friday, May 7, 2010

Long search produces great reward... more red wolf pups!

Four female red wolf puppies (10-12 days old) were our reward for a long, hot day of crawling through thick mats of vegetation and entanglements of vines and briers. The Rich pack's den was finally located in a hole dug into the root system of a large pine tree. To get to it we spent hours searching, literally crawling on our hands and knees, sometimes wriggling along on our bellies through a labyrinth of tunnels underneath a fortress of vegetation so thick that there was really no other way through it.

Still, we couldn't’t help but be impressed with the mother wolf’s selection of a den site – these puppies were definitely well hidden. Although we left the puppies at the den, we did manage to bring home with us a nice collection of ticks, briers, and poison ivy as a keepsake. We don’t refer to the denning season as the ‘itchy season’ for nothing. -- Ryan