July was the Red Wolf SSP Master Plan meeting. It was hosted by White Oak. White Oak is an amazing facility- check them out and what they do. On my way in, I drove by a crash of rhinos (I love that a group of rhinos is called a crash). Outside my room was a river on one side and a herd of Somali Wild Ass on the other.
The meeting is always held the mid to end of July. By this point in the year, pups have been born and we know if they’ve survived the critical first six weeks of life. It also gives the necessary follow up time to complete and approve the transfer and breeding recommendations. Wolf transfers typically occur in October and November. The temperatures are cooler for physicals and moving, but yet get wolves to new locations before breeding season.
During the meeting we spend a couple days hearing from a variety of presenters. This year, in addition to over 25 people from cooperating institutions that house red wolves, we heard from the following groups or people:
- Red Wolf Coalition
- Defenders of Wildlife
- US Fish and Wildlife Service
- Conservation Centers for Species Survival
- Arkansas State University
- Graduate students Nagashima and Toivonen
- Drs. Songsasen, Mowat, Rutledge, and Wolf (yes, her name is Dr. Wolf)
Arkansas State University recently changed its mascot to the Red Wolf. In doing so, the University has also made a commitment to partner in red wolf conservation. Dr. Risch, a professor at ASU, spoke to us about the depository being created – “We will catalog all specimens and provide valuable research guidance to Red Wolf SSP participants in ongoing breeding and protection efforts,”
C2S2, Conservation Centers for Species Survival, was also present at the meeting. Discussions took place the day before our meeting about how C2S2 could come on board and help red wolf conservation.
My peers at fellow institutions talked about education planning, marketing, staff development, husbandry manual progress, capacity building, and much more. I really enjoy catching up with friends from other facilities.
The meeting always ends with our population management and genetics discussion, followed by the beginning of the breeding and transfer recommendations. There is rarely enough time to finish the recommendations, and that was no different this year. We should know for sure in September what the plan is for our current wolves. Whether some stay or go, or new wolves come to the Museum, we’ll be ready to do our part to keep the red wolf from going extinct. When the plans are set we’ll share them.