Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The life of 904F

Back in September (2010), the Red Wolf Recovery Program lost one of the longest-lived, wild red wolves in the program’s history. Female red wolf, known as 904F, who spent most of her life as the matriarch of the Milltail Pack on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, was discovered dead on the west side of the refuge near the community of East Lake, Dare County, North Carolina. It appeared as if she died from natural causes.

904F was born on the west side of the refuge in the spring of 1997. She became the breeding female of the Milltail Pack when she was just two years of age, and held that position for many years raising several litters of pups. In late 2006, 904F was pushed out of her natal home range by a younger, stronger female red wolf.

[904F at 10 years of age, showing off her facial scars]

904F was captured again in 2007, and at 10 years of age she appeared to be weakening and wasn't expected to live much longer. However, she continued to surprise Red Wolf Recovery Program biologists with her resiliency, surviving three more winters and establishing a new territory for herself on private property well south of her natal range. It remains a mystery why she came back to her place of birth on the refuge just before she died.

Female red wolf 904F lived a full life, and will continue to be well represented by her offspring for generations to come. In fact, her son, 1544M, now nearly five years of age, is the breeding male of the Milltail Pack. -- Ryan

[1544M at 8 months of age, showing off his new radio telemetry collar]

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