Red Wolf Recovery at Critical Junction

by Mitch Merry
Online Organizer Endangered Species Coalition

We have reached a critical junction in the recovery of the critically endangered red wolf (Canis rufus). The story of the red wolf is a complicated one, which has likely contributed to its anonymity. Historically distributed across the southeastern United States, the species was extirpated from much of range due to habitat loss and overharvest. Remnant populations then became threatened by hybridization with coyotes, which expanded in range as the red wolf disappeared.

In the 1970s biologists identified only 14 remaining wild red wolves in the species’ last stronghold in a coastal region on the Texas-Louisiana border. Those individuals were transported to Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, WA and the species was declared extinct in the wild in 1980.

Just inland from the famed Outer Banks, the five-county Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula in eastern North Carolina was selected as the location for the first red wolf reintroduction program. At the time, there were no coyotes present in this area. The first wolves were released in 1987 and the population grew slowly. Soon coyotes rapidly colonized the state and in 1993 the first hybridization event between a red wolf and coyote was documented…

(read more: Endangered Species Coalition)

cool-critters

cool-critters:

Dhole (Cuon alpinus)

The dhole, also called the Asiatic wild dog or Indian wild dog, is a species of canid native to South and Southeast Asia. The dholes are classed as endangered by the IUCN, due to ongoing habitat loss, depletion of its prey base, competition from other predators, persecution and possibly diseases from domestic and feral dogs. The dhole is a highly social animal, living in large clans which occasionally split up into small packs to hunt. It primarily preys on medium-sized ungulates, which it hunts by tiring them out in long chases, and kills by disemboweling them. Unlike most social canids (but similar to African wild dogs), dholes let their pups eat first at a kill. Though fearful of humans, dhole packs are bold enough to attack large and dangerous animals such as wild boar, water buffalo, and even tigers.

photo credits: Sudhir Shivaram at thejunglelook, Kalyanvarma, outdoorconservation,

In Search of Kenya’s Elusive Wild Dogs

by Elizabeth Pennisi

Most visitors to Africa come for the lions, elephants, and rhinos. But for the tourists who helicoptered into this somewhat remote region of central Kenya last month, wild dogs topped their list. Once so common in Africa that they were shot as vermin, the elusive canines are becoming poster children for conservation: Fewer than 7000 are left in Africa, their native range.

A reporter visiting the center, I love dogs and so jumped at the chance to track some down in advance of the tourists’ arrival. It was a dusty, bumpy ride into the bush, for a fleeting view of animals that aren’t really dogs after all. But along the way, I came to appreciate their incredible story.

They are full of wanderlust, and their packs show camaraderie and coordination to rival the best military unit. Yet they are quite vulnerable, and even though several teams of researchers have dedicated large chunks of their lives following these animals, much about them remains mysterious.

Despite the name, Lycaon pictus is a distant relative of household canines. Dogs, wolves, and coyotes can all interbreed but not with wild dogs, which are sometimes called painted wolves because of their colorful and variable coat patterns…

(read more: Science News/AAAS)

photos by Stefanie Strebel and Elizabeth Pennisi

New grey wolf populations found in Canada
by Zoe Gough
Two distinct populations of grey wolves have been found living side-by-side in British Columbia, Canada.

The research built on the knowledge of indigenous people who had distinguished between the mainland “timber wolf” and island “coastal wolf”. Scientists compared DNA from wolf faeces to determine if the two groups were different. They say their findings show that different environments can influence genetic changes.

The team, based at the University of Victoria, reported their research in the journal BMC Ecology.
The study focused on an area of the central coast of British Columbia known as Bella Bella, which includes a mainland landmass separated from five islands by water…
(read more: BBC Nature)
photograph by Chris Darimont

New grey wolf populations found in Canada

by Zoe Gough

Two distinct populations of grey wolves have been found living side-by-side in British Columbia, Canada.

The research built on the knowledge of indigenous people who had distinguished between the mainland “timber wolf” and island “coastal wolf”. Scientists compared DNA from wolf faeces to determine if the two groups were different. They say their findings show that different environments can influence genetic changes.

The team, based at the University of Victoria, reported their research in the journal BMC Ecology.

The study focused on an area of the central coast of British Columbia known as Bella Bella, which includes a mainland landmass separated from five islands by water…

(read more: BBC Nature)

photograph by Chris Darimont

San Angelo State Park - San Angelo, TX
“I was on Turkey Creek Trail and heading south today (Thursday at 11:44) and saw this grey fox about 100 - 200 meters south of where Turkey Creek, River Bend and Flintstone trails meet. 
The wind was blowing towards me and I was about 20 meters away from him; he didn’t see me at first so I was able to watch him hunt, I assume for lizards, for a minute or so before he noticed me. Because I has holding still, he didn’t know what I was so wasn’t alarmed, I got a shot of him sitting and scratching. As he started walking toward me to investigate, the wind stopped blowing and he got a whiff of me and took off… 
First grey fox I’ve seen in all the years at the park!!!” (Story and photo: Michael Erb)

San Angelo State Park - San Angelo, TX

I was on Turkey Creek Trail and heading south today (Thursday at 11:44) and saw this grey fox about 100 - 200 meters south of where Turkey Creek, River Bend and Flintstone trails meet.

The wind was blowing towards me and I was about 20 meters away from him; he didn’t see me at first so I was able to watch him hunt, I assume for lizards, for a minute or so before he noticed me. Because I has holding still, he didn’t know what I was so wasn’t alarmed, I got a shot of him sitting and scratching. As he started walking toward me to investigate, the wind stopped blowing and he got a whiff of me and took off…

First grey fox I’ve seen in all the years at the park!!!

(Story and photo: Michael Erb)

12 Playful Dhole Pups at Howletts Wild Animal Park, UK

Dholes, also known as Asiatic Wild Dogs, typically have litters of four to ten pups.  “To have a litter of 12 healthy and active pups is quite unusual,” said Ben Warren, head of the park’s Carnivore Section.  “The pups are getting really confident now and love playing around and annoying the adults, they’re really entertaining to watch.”

Dholes typically live in large packs.  Once weaned, the pups are cared for and fed by the entire pack. Packs work together to take down large deer, wild boar, and cattle.  Unlike other pack hunters, like wolves, who allow the dominant adults to feed first at a kill, Dholes give priority to pups.  Nursing females and their young are fed regurgitated food by other members of the pack. ..

(read more: ZooBorns)