New red wolf litter born on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Published 2:03 pm Monday, May 13, 2024

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The Red Wolf Recovery Program announced on May 3, 2024 that it confirmed on April 18 the birth of a wild litter of red wolf pups in the Milltail area of Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

“While this is the third year in a row for a litter in that area, it was far from a given that it would occur this year after the tragic loss of 2323 (the previous breeding male in the Milltail family group) in September 2023,” noted the announcement from the Red Wolf Recovery Program.

“In a bold attempt to create a new breeding pair, an acclimation pen was quickly constructed in October 2023 within the home range of the resident wild adult female Red Wolf (2225) who birthed the previous two litters. A male Red Wolf (2191), born at Wolf Haven International in Tenino, Washington as part of the Red Wolf SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) program, was then placed in it. His release from the pen in late January 2024 was purposefully timed with the breeding season and he and 2225 soon appeared to become a pair.”

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The announcement further stated that close monitoring throughout the winter and early spring “began to raise hopes that this somewhat of a longshot new pairing was looking more and more like it was going to be successful. One peek inside the wild den revealed just how successful it was as we counted out 8 small, content Red Wolf pups all cuddled together in a ball! Their eyes not even open yet, the pups were estimated to be about 9 days old. They were quickly examined, microchipped for future identification, and cheek swabbed for genetics before we hurriedly retreated from the den, allowing 2225 to quickly return to continue caring for the pups.”

It was noted that since the best thing for the pups now is to give them the space and solitude they need to be raised in the wild, no further attempts will be made to go into or anywhere near the den.

“This third consecutive Milltail litter, along with the many other actions being taken by USFWS and our partners, are key to the continued growth of the population and the recovery of Red Wolves,” stated the announcement.