Monday, June 20, 2011

There’s More Than One Way To Catch a Wolf!

The first attempt at finding a den this year offered the Red Wolf Recovery Program biologists a new challenge. Finding this particular den was going to be easy….it already had been spotted from the air during a telemetry flight. The challenge in this case was that we wanted to get our hands on the mother as well as the pups.

[Red wolf den. Photo credit: D. Rabon/USFWS]

Female wolf 1686F was wearing a radio-collar that was near the end of its battery life. We needed to change her collar to prevent losing radio contact with her. The conventional method for catching a wolf to change its collar is to set modified leg-hold traps. For a mother with young pups, however, that’s not an option because there is always some risk involved (albeit small given the design of the trap). Instead, we decided our best option would be to sneak up to her den without being detected and capture her in a net as she exited. As you can see from the photo every once in a while a plan comes together!

[Red wolf captured. Photo credit: A. Johnson/USFWS]

Once her collar was replaced, we processed her pups, placed the pups back in the den, followed by mom, and moved on to our next den search.

[Replacing a radio-telemetry collar. Photo credit: A. Johnson/USFWS]

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2011: A Good Year for Red Wolf Recruitment

As the 2011 denning season winds down for the Red Wolf Recovery Program, the tally of red wolf pups born in the wild appears to be 46. This was an unexpectedly strong year for recruitment in the wild population. The number of mortalities of breeding wolves in recent years presented a challenge in optimism going into this year's denning season. Fortunately, 11 pairs of breeding wolves, including seven newly formed pairs and first time breeders, gave us a lot to be optimistic about.

[Red wolf pups. Photo credit: R. Nordsven/USFWS]