St. Vincent red wolf recovery going strong

Published: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at 08:51 AM.

The St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge has the unique status of participating in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s red wolf recovery program.

St. Vincent Island is fortunate to have the capacity and features to allow a free roaming “semi-wild experience” for this endangered species. Here a red wolf pair has the opportunity to breed and raise pups without significant human interference in a natural habitat. Because the island is not trying to establish a permanent wolf population, most of the pups around 18 months of age are transferred to the 1.2 million-acre, five-county red wolf recovery area in eastern North Carolina

St Vincent was first approved as a red wolf island propagation site in the fall of 1989 and has since been home to 21 adults with 25 pups born on location.

Adults that are sent off the island for any number of reasons such as age or health concerns have gone to places such as The Tallahassee History and Natural Sciences Museum, the Wolf Conservation Center of New York, and Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium/Graham, Wash. to name a few.

Adult red wolves have been sent to St. Vincent from all over the United States . Red wolves are identified by number (e.g., 1548, 1124, 982). The last pair, prior to Dec. 2013, female #1729 and male #1565, were not successful for over four years in their ability to have pups; so, in Dec. 2013 male #1565 was sent to the Wolf Conservation Center of New York and one of their male red wolves was sent to St. Vincent in exchange.

The new male #1804 and female #1729 were placed in a large acclimation pen on the island for a short time in an effort to both introduce the pair and help male #1804 adjust to his new environment.

Encouraging video evidence of their subsequent pair bonding there, and now in the wild, leave biologist Bradley Smith and Refuge Manager Shelley Stiaes hopeful there will be a new litter of red wolf pups roaming the refuge soon.

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