June 22, 2005
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists have recently found evidence of
a litter of red wolf pups on Florida’s St.
Vincent National Wildlife Refuge. Wildlife Biologist, Thom Lewis, was
tracking female red wolf 982 and located a rendezvous site in the middle of
a sandy road that showed evidence of pups. A large area in soft sand with
both adult size and many 4-5 cm canid tracks verified that female 982 and
male 1124 had successfully bred and the litter had survived to this stage.
St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge was selected and approved as an island
propagation site for red wolves in the fall of 1989; it is the only island
propagation site currently active in red wolf recovery efforts. Their role
in the recovery effort is to provide red wolves with wild experience in a
somewhat controlled setting before they are released at mainland
reintroduction sites. The St. Vincent program does not attempt to establish
a permanent population of free-ranging red wolves at this property. In the
future, one or more of these St. Vincent pups may end up being released
into the wild in eastern North Carolina.
The family unit of red wolves on St. Vincent Island will be monitored on a
regular basis. A den search is not planned at this time. Radio-tracking
telemetry data collected by staff and volunteers will be evaluated to
approximate the pup birth date.
What makes this pup evidence particularly significant is that St. Vincent
National Wildlife Refuge had not had a wild-born red wolf litter since
1998. The current wolf pair, who are parents to the newly discovered pups,
are the only two wolves on the island and have an interesting history.
Female 982, born May 1998 on St. Vincent Island, was transferred to the
Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in January 2000. She returned to
St. Vincent’s on February 14 (Valentine's Day) 2001 and has never had pups
in the past.
Former mate, male 779, came from Alligator River in February 2000, was
released into the wild in October 2000 and lost his first mate, female 920,
in January 2001. Male 779 was shipped to Florida’s Lowry Park Zoo in
December 2004 due to lack of breeding by he and his mate.
Current mate, male 1124, arrived from the North Carolina Zoo in November
2004 and was released into the wild to join female 982 in January 2005
after his acclimation period. The pair (1124 and 982) quickly joined one
another and have acted like pair-bonded animals since.
For additional information, please contact Thom Lewis, Wildlife Biologist,
St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, Apalachicola, FL, 850-653-8808.