Thursday, June 7, 2012

Management Techniques: Processing Pups

When a litter of red wolf pups is discovered by the Red Wolf Recovery Program, our primary concern is for the pups' safety. The pups are handled quickly and carefully, with as little disturbance to the den site as possible. We record the number of pups in the litter and the sex of each pup. A small sample of blood is drawn from each pup to determine or verify its pedigree, that is, who its parents are.

[Drawing blood from a red wolf pup. Photo Credit: W. Waddell/USFWS]

We also insert a PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tag, or microchip in each pup for identification later in life. The PIT tag is inserted just under the skin between the shoulder blades. This is the same type of transponder chip commonly used in the family dog and cat for identification. When the wolf pup has grown and we capture it to fit it with a radio-collar, a simple scan of the PIT tag will let us know exactly who the animal is. This prevents us from having to temporarily hold the animal in captivity while we await the results of a blood test to determine its identity.

[Inserting a PIT tag into a red wolf pup. Photo Credit: W. Waddell/USFWS]

When all the pups have been processed and their information recorded, we carefully return them to the den where their mother will return to care for them soon after our departure. After this process is completed, additional notes may be recorded pertaining to den characteristics, surrounding habitat, or any other interesting or distinquishing features present.

[Scanning a PIT tag to ensure it works. Photo Credit: D. Rabon/USFWS]


  1. How many puppies have been born at the refuge so far this year?

  2. Stay tuned! We'll be answering that question, and more, with a new blog in a few days.