Friday, August 31, 2012

Endless Summer... at Sandy Ridge

Summer is a time of year when the Red Wolf Recovery Program staff tend to retreat from field work, especially trapping. The heat of the summer months makes trapping both somewhat unproductive and potentially dangerous to a trapped wolf. One project undertaken to pass the summer months was to complete some much needed maintenance work at Sandy Ridge, the captive red wolf facility at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

[Before and after photo of the perimeter fence at Sandy Ridge. Photo credit: R. Nordsven/USFWS]

The majority of the maintenance work at Sandy Ridge was completed last summer, just before the arrival of Hurricane Irene (Category 1 hurricane making landfall near Cape Lookout, North Carolina on August 27, 2011). The work involved clearing trees that had grown into pens and through the perimeter fencing, as well as repairing damage to fences from fallen trees. Luckily, none of the trees were as large as the trees that fell during Hurricane Isabel, a Category 2 hurricane that made landfall between Cape Lookout and Ocracoke Island, North Carolina on September 18, 2003.

[Downed tree at Sandy Ridge after Hurricane Isabel 2003. Photo credit: USFWS]

Hurricane Isabel tracked its way across the mainland causing a great deal of damage to the Sandy Ridge facility, uprooting trees and destroying fences and sheds. Unfortunately, one large tree killed a captive red wolf when it fell on the den box where the wolf was riding out the storm. The destruction from Hurricane Isabel required many months of cleanup and repair. Thankfully, Irene proved to be much easier on the Red Wolf Recovery Program staff and wolves. Other than a few downed branches and limbs, the only real damage was to one side of an unoccupied pen that was hit by a fallen tree. Fortunately, this time, no wolves were harmed! -- Ryan

[Destroyed shed at Sandy Ridge after Hurricane Isabel 2003. Photo credit: USFWS]

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