Friday, August 31, 2012

Dancing with Wolves?

Yep, this morning was my time to help with the feeding of the captive red wolves.  I was hoping to get some spectacular pictures of the wolves as we made our way down several gravel roads and two locked gates deep in the forest of the refuge.  It’s a good thing I was hoping for rather than counting on great photos because that just didn’t happen.


A total of eight wolves are housed in several different pens.  The pens are quite roomy and include a den and lots of typical foliage.  Red wolves were declared biologically extinct in the wild in 1980.  Restoration efforts began in 1987 with the experimental release of red wolves at Alligator River NWR. 


Hard to tell, but this is the young red wolf intern, Ashlyn, decked out in her stylish bug jacket.  You can bet that I had on one of these jackets also.  The mosquitoes back in the forest around the pens were ridiculous!  With barely any skin showing, I still managed to get bit about 15 times.  Ugh!


As we approached each pen, the wolves inside began a non-stop circuit along the fence line furthest away from us. 


Not once did they stop long enough for me to try to get a decent shot.  The dense forest environment, provided another challenge as well.


It only took one year for those first released wolves to produce their first wild litter back in 1988.There are presently about 90 – 100 wolves living wild in the five counties that include and surround the refuge.


We expected the wolves to be a little upset since normally only one person comes to feed them.  When more than one person arrives, it usually means that one of them is going to be caught and examined or something.  The wolves are not dumb.  It turned out that Ashlyn’s boyfriend was also with us as he is visiting for the holiday weekend.


I thought perhaps that they would be fed dead rabbits or something like that.  Not so.  They are given a dry kibble similar to dog food.  Ashlyn did think that the kibble is composed of more wild type meat like bison though.  She also occasionally supplements the dry food with raw eggs.


When the captive pairs produce a litter, the pups are removed from the den to be placed in the den of a pair living in the wild.  Thus, the youngsters are raised wild.  These wolves are very fleet of foot, and can turn on a dime!


I sure wish I could have gotten some better shots of these endangered wolves, but between the chain link fences, the dense underbrush, and their excited state, it just wasn’t to be.  We only spent about a half hour at the pens.  The intern probably had other things to do, and with having her boyfriend visiting, I doubt that she was much concerned with me.  Winking smile  I’d like to return sometime when I could spend more time, and wait for the wolves to calm down.  Don’t know that that will ever happen, though.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy