Thursday, May 19, 2011

Celebrate Endangered Species Day 2011

On 20 May 2011 the Red Wolf Recovery Program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will observe Endangered Species Day.

Endangered Species Day is an opportunity for people young and old to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and everyday actions that people can take to help protect our nation’s disappearing wildlife and last remaining open space. Protecting America’s wildlife and plants today is a legacy we leave to our children and grandchildren, so that all Americans can experience the rich variety of native species that help to define our nation.

Started by the United States Senate, Endangered Species Day is the third Friday in May. Every year, thousands of people throughout the country celebrate Endangered Species Day at parks, wildlife refuges, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, libraries, schools and community centers. You can participate in festivals, field trips, park tours, community clean-ups, film showings, classroom presentations, and many other fun and educational activities.

In partnership with the Endangered Species Coalition and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, events will be scheduled throughout the country. Go to for more information on Endangered Species Day events near you!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Where there's a Will, there's a way.

Having the chance to ride along with the Red Wolf Recovery Program biologists a few weeks ago as they began their annual search for red wolf dens, I can back up Ryan’s recent blog postings that finding dens takes a great deal of patience and effort. After the first few days I wondered if the biologists were setting me up by looking for dens in locations that could test the abilities of a triathlete. However the reward of finding a litter was well worth the briar scratches and tick plucking, and it was apparent that these kinds of areas provided the wolves needed cover and security as they go about the business of rearing their young.

[Will tests his "sixth sense" in finding a den. Photo credit: A. Beyer/USFWS]

With the miles of dirt roads, fields, and drainage ditches it’s easy to get disoriented as the biologists rattle off the name of this or that pack, road, or location. Radio telemetry no doubt helps, but when combined with their experience, knowledge of the area, and an uncanny sixth sense, the crew has remarkable success locating dens.

[Will finds his very first red wolf pup in the wild. Photo credit: A. Beyer/USFWS]

As coordinator for the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan, being able to help search for wild dens gave me the opportunity to take a step back and look at the Red Wolf Recovery Program from a “big picture” perspective. It also underscored that there are many individuals, agencies, and organizations committed to ensuring that red wolves will continue to thrive. -- Will

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]