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]


  1. I have been reading so much about the fires burning in that general area and have wondered if the fire was within their range or has caused any shifting of the population?

  2. Getting that photo of her rocketing out of the den makes this post excellent!

  3. Thank you for your comments. We hope the photo captured a bit of the excitement we felt when catching female wolf 1686F. Regarding the Pains Bay fire, it does not appear that the fire has had a negative impact on the wolves. The fire is burning areas of the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and the Dare County Range that are rarely used by the wolves.

  4. This is a great website. I wish USFWS had something similar in place for the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction in Arizona and New Mexico. Congratulations on doing such good public outreach!