There are several reasons it is necessary for Red Wolf Recovery Program field biologists to capture wild red wolves, including to fit a wolf with a new telemetry collar or to replace an old or non-functioning telemetry collar, or to provide medical treatment to a sick or injured wolf. Trapping is one of the most efficient and effective means for the Red Wolf Recovery Program biologists to capture red wolves.
We use a steel leg-hold trap, which requires an animal to step in the center of the trap triggering it to close on the animal’s foot. The traps we use are referred to as a "soft-catch" trap because of the rubber-padded "jaws." Obviously, it would not benefit us to injure the very animal we are trying to conserve, so our traps are highly modified to reduce injury.
The rubber-padded jaws, shock absorbers, and swivels in the trap design lessen the impact of the trap on the animal’s foot. In addition, we set our traps with a drag instead of staking the traps to the ground, which also greatly reduces potential injury to the wolves. Other variables that we consider in the safety and appropriateness of using leg-hold traps when trapping include the age of the target animal, weather conditions, how far the animal can travel after being trapped, other non-target animals in the area, and the level and experience of the field biologist. Field biologists with the Red Wolf Recovery Program have, on average, 16 years of experience trapping red wolves. -- Art