AUGUST 5, 2016
US Fish and Wildlife Services recently contacted the Jackson Zoo to announce sightings of a Jackson-born female red wolf and her new pup within the boundaries of St. Vincent National Refuge in Florida. “Little Red Wolf” has been seen with a male born at the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY. Both were reintroduced into the free-range refuge as part of the Red Wolf Coalition Species Survival Plan.
This is exciting for the species, as red wolves (Canis rufus) have been on the brink of extinction for almost 40 years. In the 1920’s, red wolves ranged from southern Texas eastward up the US coastline as far as Canada, and were honored by Native Americans. Due to equal parts habitat loss and indiscriminate extermination by farmers and hunters, less than 100 pure red wolves were rounded up by wildlife officials in 1980. Those have been the foundation for the population of 182 that exists today in protected reserves in the southern US, predominantly North Carolina.
St. Vincent National Refuge is an undeveloped island located just offshore from the mouth of the Apalachicola River, in the Gulf of Mexico, in Franklin County, Florida. The protected reserve is a haven for endangered and threatened species, such as bald eagles and sea turtles, and also serves as a breeding area for the endangered red wolves.
Bradley Smith of the US Fish and Wildlife Service sent an email on Tuesday, August 2nd to Rebecca Bose of the Wolf Conservation Center and Jackson Zoo Deputy Director Dave Wetzel with news that the free-ranging family “seem to be doing very well.”
Red wolves have been at the Jackson Zoo since 2002. The current breeding pair, male “Kanati” (Cherokee for hunter) and female “Taladu” (Cherokee for cricket), joined the animal collection in 2012. He was born in Connecticut at Beardsley’s Zoo in 2003, but transferred from Chattanooga Nature Center. Seven-year-old “Taladu” came to Jackson from USFW Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. They had their second litter of pups in March of 2014, which were blessed by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw. With the help of Will Wydell, a coordinator for the Species Survival Plan, “Little Red Wolf” (female 2050) was sent to St. Vincent to try and increase red wolf numbers. Red wolves are believed to bond for life, so hopes are high that the pair will continue to thrive and produce in the years to come.
“We are so excited to hear of the success of the release of this female, and her addition of young to the Red wolf population at St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge,” said Jackson Zoo Director Beth Poff. “It is so rare to be able to give back to a free-range breeding program, and the Red Wolf program is one of these special groups.”
The fight for red wolves continues, as some landowners still view them as a threat, and push to stop the protective laws with regard to the capture and killing of red wolves. The Red Wolf Coalition is one of the four conservation programs supported by the Jackson Zoo “Change for Change” program. In addition to the automatic allocation of 25 cents of every admission going to conservation, there are separate boxes for donations near the entrance to the zoo that also include Ape T.A.G., Raptor Rehab, and AZA S.A.F.E.
For more information, contact EJ Rivers at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the following links for the individual programs involved in the continuation of saving red wolves:
The Red Wolf Coalition http://www.redwolves.com
US Department of Fish and Wildlife Services http://www.fws.gov
St. Vincent Wildlife Refuge (USFWS) http://www.fws.gov/saintvincent
Wolf Conservation Center http://www.nywolf.org
The Jackson Zoo Change for Change http://www.jacksonzoo.org/conservation
Species Survival Plan http://www.aza.org/species_survival_plan_programs
People can also keep up with the Jackson Zoo keepers, who run the Jackson Zoo Instagram page from behind the scenes: http://www.instagram.com/JacksonZoo.