Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Wolf Named "Willy"

During the third week of April, in the midst of our annual search for red wolf dens, biologists with the Red Wolf Recovery Program were accompanied by a special guest, Red Wolf SSP (Species Survival Plan) Coordinator, Will Waddell. Will, based at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington, has been leading the red wolf captive-breeding effort for nearly 20 years. In doing so, he has been involved in the birth and care of countless litters of captive red wolf pups. But, surprisingly, he has never been involved in the finding and processing of a litter of wild red wolf pups. This particular denning season he was able to lend the field biologists a helping hand, and we were more than happy to have him on board.

After a lengthy, hot, and unsuccessful search amidst a large block of pine trees and tangles of briars on the first day of Will's visit, Day 2 proved to be much more rewarding. The den was located under a grove of myrtle bushes in the middle of, what else, a large patch of briars, to a first time mother. Although we were hoping for a litter from her this year, we weren’t really counting on one because of her young age. So, finding that she had had a litter, even though it was only one pup, was a pleasant surprise. After realizing the healthy week-old pup was a male, Will declared “We’ll have to call him Willy!”

Technically, red wolves are not given names, and this pup will be no different. Rather, he will be assigned a studbook number (by his namesake, ironically) to which he will be officially referred. But unofficially, he may very well be known for some time by the Red Wolf Recovery Program biologists as the wolf named “Willy”. -- Ryan

[Will and Willy. Photo credit: A. Beyer/USFWS]

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this information. I am concerned about the wildfire in the area. I hope the wolves and pups are safe.