As we mentioned in our Valentine’s Day blog, sometimes there are special circumstances where we try to pair up a lone red wolf with a new mate before release. In February, we paired a female red wolf (11470) with a recently captured male, 11872. 11470 lost her mate this past winter and 11872 is a young disperser who was living a neighboring home range and we thought they might be a good match. We introduced them to each other in a captive pen first to allow them to meet and investigate the other animal and new surroundings and then on February 23rd, we released them together in her original territory.
11872 and 11470 ready to be released. Photo by B. Bartel/USFWS.
11470. Photo by B. Bartel/USFWS.
11872 following 11470 post-release. Photo by B. Bartel/USFWS.
For more photos of the release, check out our Facebook photo album.
The release went well and 11470 raced out of the holding kennel back into her home range, with 11872 following close behind. Unfortunately, during a telemetry flight a few days later, we discovered that the pair was no longer together. 11872 left 11470 and had returned to his natal pack which was located nearby. We were initially disappointed and concerned as it was the peak of breeding season and we wanted 11470 to have good options of finding an appropriate breeding partner. So we did something that is difficult for many biologists—we waited. We were hopeful that 11872 might disperse from his natal pack again and find his own territory. This month, we were delighted to detect that he was located outside of his pack’s home range, closer to 11470 again. We were cautiously optimistic. After several more telemetry flights and ground surveys, Red Wolf Recovery Program field biologists confirmed that the pair was together again. While it’s only been a little over a week since 11470 and 11872 have been reunited, we are hopeful that they will remain together for the rest of the breeding season. Fingers crossed! We’ll keep you updated.