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Borrego Springs, CA

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.

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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. 

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

27 comments:

  1. Great shots... even if you don't think so ;-) We've worked with the Mexican Gray Wolf in New Mexico... looks like a similar operation. Isn't it great to be right in there with them? Your blog brought back some great memories! Thanks!

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  2. If the pups are taken from the parents and given to wild parents, how does this wild mother feed them? She wouldn't have milk for them to suckle. And the mother that has milk and no babies, what does she do. I think this is great to have them grow up in the wild but I feel sorry for the poor mom that looses her babies. :(

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  3. I have the same question Harriet has. I don't understand that.
    I think you got some wonderful photos. What a thrilled to be able to see these beauties up close and personal.

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  4. Having try to photograph Mexican Gray Wolves in similar confinement in Carlsbad New Mexico, I could sure relate to getting them to slow up and I even asked nicely.

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  5. What an experience! I appreciate the photos. So happy you were able to have this experience.

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  6. Being that I'm from the dog show world, I saw some exceptional moving shots of these beauties! I do hope that you get to go back & just lurk around. If not, at least you got these shots & they still tell a story.

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  7. Good photos Judy considering the situation. I feel really sorry for the wolves though. If they are doing well in the wild, why do these wolves have to be "captive"??

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  8. No complaints, loved that you were able to see the wolves and get some pictures. They are beautiful animals, even if they are captive. Hopefully the breeding process works out well to make the wild wolves come back strong.

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  9. What a great experience! I keep remembering your story about working at the fish hatchery and I think this had to be more fun!

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  10. Good action shots! I guess we are all wondering about the pups that are taken from their moms. How does that work in the wild - how are they fed?

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  11. The shots you did get are great. They are so sleek and beautiful.

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  12. I am assuming the pups are taken and put in the den of wild wolves so they can learn the needed survival skills.

    Your photos are wonderful....gorgeous animals!!

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  13. Well, i thought u did a really good job, under the circumstances. I am still trying to get over the fact that they never get to care for or raise their babies. Suppose they forget soon after, but that was sad..

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  15. After my German Shepherd days with the Police Dept, I have always been intrigued by wolves of all kinds. Unfortunately I had to put down a wolf/shepherd that nearly killed a co-workers child. I have been told though that of all wild species the wolf responds to humans the best of any. I would have loved to have been along with you , but left Rigg's home for the day. Be safe out there, Sam & Donna..

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  16. I read about a red wolf breeding program (zoo-based) that pups put in wild dens are placed in ones where a wild wolf mother is already nursing a litter of similar-aged pups of her own. This is apparently being done with zoo-born pups in the same manner that you described and has been quite successful with the foster pups readily accepted by the wild ones. Good that they have an opportunity to be raised in the wild and learn the skills necessary to survive out there.

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  17. So very interesting about the wolves, and the pictures are great! Caught some action there! You certainly have unique times while you are out there. My, oh, my!!

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  18. PS.... love the sunset too... beautiful!

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  19. thanks for sharing these wonderful species with us...

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  20. How great it must have been to be in their company for that time..I think your photos capture their slyness and speed...

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  21. Well, I think you did a great job with your photo's, all things considered!

    And I concur with Harriet and Karen above... hardly seems fair for the birth mother! Are those adoptions legal?

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  22. You get all of the cool jobs, Judy! Totally envious of your visit to the wolf refuge!
    And you got some great photos, considering they are fast moving targets.
    That is some serious bug protection you had to wear to go inside!
    Thank you for sharing!
    Kathy

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  23. We visited a wolf rescue in NM and spent the night camped there listening to the wolves howl and the coyotes answer. What an incredible experience. I love your pictures. They show just how rapidly those beautiful animals can move. Sure couldn't handle all the mosquitoes that you put up with every year.

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  24. I think your photos are great considering the circumstances. The wolves look a lot thinner than I expected though, is that their normal size? We need that mosquito suit here in Texas with the West Nile virus almost an epidemic here in the Dallas area. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us!

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