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Saving a Species, One Egg at a Time

Mexican gray wolf F628

Just a few days after federal officials delivered promising news about the wild lobo population growing for the first time in 4 years, Mexican gray wolf F628 unknowingly made a priceless contribution allowing her species to persist. F628 is one of the 16 Mexican wolves that call the Wolf Conservation Center home. The 11-year-old female is too old to be chosen to breed but this does preclude her from contributing to the future survival of her species. Genetic management and preservation are central to the conservation of a critically endangered species. Maintaining genetic diversity within the Mexican gray wolf population is a challenge so the directors of the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (MWSSP) ask that older females in the program are spayed (for their own health benefit) and their viable eggs (oocytes) conserved for future use in the Mexican wolf in vitro fertilization program.  Our first step was capturing F628.

The WCC team of volunteers and staff met this early morning prepared to meet the inevitable challenges that the snowy terrain would create in catching the elusive wolf. While naturally ill-equipped humans are tasked with laboring through the deep icy mix, wolves can maneuver effortlessly with their large paws working like snow shoes. Thankfully, we did not need to move much at all, the mere presence of our menacing crew scared F628 straight into a capture box.

The WCC team give F628 a sleigh ride

After we successfully crated F628, we carefully brought the kennel down from our endangered species facility located high in the woods on the WCC’s 27 acres and into our van. I don’t think F628 has ever been on a sleigh ride before! About an hour after the capture, we were greeted by the friendly and accommodating team at the Norwalk Veterinary Hospital in Norwalk, CT.

Dr Charlie Duffy successfully spayed F628 and her ovaries were packed and shipped after the quick and graceful operation. Within 4 hours of her capture, F628 was returned home where she and her handsome companion peacefully reside off exhibit in their vast and snowing enclosure. Thanks to F628 and the Norwalk Veterinary Hospital, the future of the lobo is looking brighter.