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Evidence of Red Wolf Pups on St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge Aid in Red Wolf Recovery


June 22, 2005

Bonnie Strawser, 252-473-1131 ext 230
Diane Hendry, 252-473-1131 Ext. 246,


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists have recently found evidence of a litter of 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.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

Red Wolf pups were discovered recently on St Vincent National Wildlife Refuge.  These pups may be reintroduced into the wild in eastern North Carolina in the future. Photo credit: FWS


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