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WCC Mourns Endangered Red Wolf F1397

Dear Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I share tragic news about a beloved matriarch. Red wolf F1397, affectionately nicknamed “Witchhazel” for her chutzpah, passed away Saturday. She fell victim to bloat or Gastric Dilatation Volvulus – a particularly scary affliction because of how fast the condition becomes lethal. She was eleven years old.

Although F1397 was slight of stature, her presence proved mighty from the moment we met her.

F1397 joined the Wolf Conservation Center family in 2009 when she was introduced to her first love, red wolf M1483. The following spring the pair earned the badge parenthood with the birth of their two sons, M1803 and M1804 (a.k.a. Moose and Thicket). Motherhood amplified F1397’s industrious spirit. Never idle, the commanding mother effortlessly managed the males in the family whilst engineering a series of additions to their den site, enhancements both marvelous and complex to provide her family with a place of refuge from the outside world. Sadly, tragedy struck despite these efforts. M1483 died unexpectedly in 2012 leaving F1397 to raise her young children singlehandedly.

Starting in 2013, a new chapter opened for F1397 and her boys. M1804 was released to the wild. A father himself now, he resides on an island in the Gulf of Mexico with his mate and pups of the year. M1803 welcomed pups of his own with red wolf F1563 (a.k.a. Salty). And in 2014, F1397 found love again in the last companion she would ever know, red wolf M1566 (a.k.a. Smokey).

Her great gift in life was calling our attention to the things that really matter for wolves – family, love, and loyalty. F1397 was ultimate “alpha” – leading both her brood and those who she unknowingly inspired with spirit and spunk. She blazed into our homes and hearts via webcam – opening the door to understanding wolf family values as well as the importance and plight of her endangered kin.

We can be better and do better because she lived. Her scrappy and assiduous spirit will empower us to continue the fight to safeguard the wild legacy she leaves behind.

Our hearts go out to her family, her love M1566, and the many who she had unknowingly touched.

RIP, Witch Hazel. We miss you already.

Maggie Howell, WCC Executive Director