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Rare Red Wolf Pup Born in Captivity

Jun 18, 2014 10:16 AM EDT
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A new rare red wolf pup was recently born in captivity at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in Kentucky, and maybe one day could help restore this endangered species.

Conservationists at Land Between the Lakes (LBL) in Golden Pond, Kentucky welcomed the unnamed female pup May 2, though she is just now emerging from her den.

"As she gets older and braver, the little pup will become more visible. Right now she is still hard to see," Darrin Samborski, facility manager for the Nature Station, commented in a LBL news release.

The Woodlands Nature Station's captive and endangered red wolves are the proud parents of this mere three-quarter-pound rascal.

Typical of newborns, the pup will remain with her parents for 18 months and then be transferred to a local zoo or nature center to start her own pack and help this rare species flourish once more.

Red wolves once dominated US southern forests prior to European settlement. Agriculture changed the landscape and destroyed the species' natural habitat. That, plus predator control programs and hunting, led to the decimations of red wolf populations, and as a result the red wolf was deemed an endangered species, according to the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS).

This female pup is the result of collaboration between LBL and the US Fish & Wildlife Service's Red Wolf Recovery Program. LBL was one of the sites this year selected to preserve the genetic line of the 13-year-old male wolf residing in the Nature Station - red wolves usually don't live past 14 years of age.

There are no red wolves living in the wild at LBL, and as of now have no plans to re-introduce them. Possibly one reason is because humans and predators like the coyote still pose a threat to the endangered species.

"Coyotes and humans are direct competitors for resources with the shy red wolf. They can only exist in areas where both are low in population," lead naturalist John Pollpeter said in the news release.

Currently, FWS reports, more than 100 red wolves roam their native habitats in North Carolina, and another 200 live in captivity throughout the United States.

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