The Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (RWSSP) is the foundation of the Red Wolf Recovery Program. To let people know what’s happening throughout the program through, we are continuing to feature different RWSSP locations. The RWSSP of the month is St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge (SVNWR) along the Gulf coast of northwest Florida. The 12,490-acre refuge includes two islands: St. Vincent Island and Pig Island, and a mainland tract. It is managed together with St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge as part of the North Florida Refuge Complex.
|Red wolf pair on SVNWR (trail camera photo)|
As an additional strategy to propagate wild red wolf offspring for release, captive born breeding pairs were also relocated to several island propagation sites. The wolves were released on the islands to live, hunt, breed, and raise their young in a natural environment. Their offspring, having been raised “wild,” are relocated to the mainland reintroduction sites when they reach dispersal or reproductive age. The concept being that wild-raised red wolves would be more likely to survive following release. SVNWR began participating in the RWSSP in 1990, and is currently the only operational island propagation site for current (and future) wild populations.
|11729F captured by a trail camera.|
There is one breeding pair currently on St. Vincent NWR. The breeding female 1729F was born on the island in 2007. She was originally paired with a young male (1565M) born in the SSP facility in Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center (Chattanooga, TN), but did not produce puppies in the three breeding seasons they were together. Recently, she was assessed by veterinarians and determined reproductively fit. The male was transferred to Wolf Conservation Center (South Salem , NY) and a new mate, 1804M, arrived in December 2013 (born in 2010) via Lighthawk. They have been together in an acclimation pen on the island for 2 months and will be released next week!
The animals at SVNWR are critical in the success of the RWSSP component of the red wolf recovery program. In addition to supplementing population numbers, this also augments the wild red wolf gene pool with under-presented genes, increasing genetic diversity and reducing inbreeding and subsequent potential fitness impacts.