I move forward and get the gear ready. Chris sees two pups and then scoots down the entrance head first. It turns out to be five pups, three males and two females. We carefully get a few drops of blood and implant a transponder in each pup. Chris and I have done this routine so often we don’t even need to speak to know what the other needs. He holds the pup while I draw blood and implant the transponder. He opens the cryovial while I pipette the blood from the needle. I drop in the pipette and transfer the blood while he holds pressure on the pup’s leg to stop the bleeding. I hold the cryovial while he screws on the cap. Everything goes smoothly; the pups are quiet for the most part. Mom must have fed them shortly before we arrived. They appear to be 5-7 days old, nice and plump. We place them in the fanny pouch to make it easy for Chris to transfer them back into the den. In go the pups, and Chris right behind them. Chris hands the bag back out and I grab his ankle to help him out. We gather gear and get location information. Getting out is quicker, but not always easier, than getting in. We quickly and somewhat quietly head back to the trucks. Mom will return shortly to check on the pups. She was waiting the whole time just a short distance away.
Back at the trucks Chris and I pick ticks and strip off our protective gear. Chris gets the blood, transponder information, and den coordinates together for Art. We load up in our trucks and head our separate ways. The first den of the year is done, but the year’s den work has just begun. -- Ford