SOUTH SALEM, NY (May 1, 2018) – There is a baby boom at the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC)!
After welcoming two litters of critically endangered red wolf pups less than two weeks ago, the WCC is celebrating the arrival of critically endangered Mexican gray wolf pups as well!
On April 30, first-time parent F1505 (affectionately nicknamed Trumpet for her loud squeals upon her birth in 2016) welcomed three pups. Following in their mother’s footsteps, the noisy newborns entered the world amongst a chorus of sounds. “Trumpet’s solo act has grown into an orchestra of growls, yips, and peeps,” said Regan Downey, WCC Education Director. “The squeaky sounds are not only adorable, but are so rarely heard on the wild landscape.”
There are only 114 wild Mexican gray wolves living in the United States, so every new arrival represents a priceless contribution to the recovery the rare and at-risk species.
The WCC is one of more than 50 institutions in the U.S. and Mexico participating in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan – a bi-national initiative whose primary purpose is to support the reestablishment of Mexican wolves in the wild through captive breeding, public education, and research.
Because the entire existing Mexican wolf population descended from just seven founders rescued from extinction, genetic health is the primary consideration governing not only reproductive pairings, but also captive-to-wild release efforts. Although both components are equally critical to Mexican wolf recovery, release events are far less frequent than successful breeding.
In recent positive steps toward recovery, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has been ushering genetically diverse captive wolf pups into the wilds of Arizona and New Mexico through its pup cross-fostering initiative. Cross-fostering is a coordinated event where captive-born pups are introduced into a similar-aged wild litter so the pups can grow up as wild wolves.
The Mexican wolf newborns, who will not be able to open their eyes for a week or so, are not eligible for wild-foster due to their litter size.
“Although we hoped pups from our center would receive the ‘call of the wild’,” said WCC Curator Rebecca Bose, “We’re elated that there have been foster events from other facilities this year! Cross-fostering is an incredibly effective tool for augmenting the genetic health of the wild population.”
“Maybe next year some lobo pups from the WCC will get this amazing opportunity,” said Maggie Howell, WCC Executive Director. “In the meantime, we’re counting on USFWS to continue with releases beyond pup season because recovery demands releasing more family groups into the wild too.”
The wolf parents and pups are not on public exhibit, but thirteen live webcams, available on the WCC website, invite an unlimited number of viewers to enter the private lives of these elusive creatures.