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The US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Wolf Conservation Center estimate there are only 45-60 red wolves remaining in the wild, with nearly 200 in captivity. The local Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center is doing everything it can to prevent the species from going extinct.
There are 6 red wolves, three males and three females, at the nature center, and the end of March is also the end of breeding season.
Director of Wildlife Tish Gailmard said, “we’re only one of 44 facilities in the country that house red wolves. We are breeding an exhibit facility, and we’ve been part of the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan since 1996.”
This year, the center has selected Harper, the 14-year-old male, and Sequoyah, the 7-year-old female, to breed. Last year, they tried the two and were unsuccessful. Identifying if they’ve mated is nearly impossible to tell.
Gailmard states, “wolves don’t indicate if they are pregnant, so we won’t know if we have puppies until they’re are on the ground.”
If Sequoyah is pregnant, the gestation period, or term, is only 63 days, and the pups will arrive in either April or May. But for now, it’s a waiting game.
In order to support the Red Wolves, they started the Save the Red Wolf campaign and are selling t-shirts through April 1. New President Mark McKnight said the money they collect will go straight to the wolves.
“At the end of it, we just get a check,” McKnight said. “We’re hoping to sell 300 shirts, which would feed the wolves for about a year.”
McKnight said the ultimate goal, though, is to get them back into the wild, working with other groups as part of the species survival plan, or SSP.
“This plan was to actually pull them out of the wild because they were going extinct,” McKnight added.
He says working with other groups that are part of SSP, they can swap and make sure the DNA continues to be as diverse as it can be before hopefully releasing this breed back into the wild.
Every Saturday from 11:45 am-noon the Reflection Riding holds a talk about the red wolf, and at noon, they hand out raw meat to those who want to feed the wolves.
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