Monday, January 28, 2013

New Neighbors Have the Wolf Conservation Center Seeing Red


January marks the beginning of the 2013 breeding season. This means romance is in the air, but not for everyone. The Species Survival Plan (SSP) management groups for both the Mexican gray wolf and the red wolf determine which wolves should be bred each year by using software developed for the population management of endangered species. The WCC is elated that three wolf couples at the Center are getting a chance to increase the genetic diversity of their rare species. All they have to do is prove fruitful. But what about the other red wolves and Mexican wolves that call the WCC home?

During wolf breeding season, we are tasked with separating each pack's non-breeding males and females. In the wild, wolves naturally avoid breeding with pack members, an innate behavior that decreases the risk of adverse mutations. For this reason, it's common for young pack members to disperse from their natal pack in order to breed. Winter intensifies emotions in both wild and captive wolves, but limited by the boundaries of their enclosure, captive wolves are unable to disperse. With such restrictions, it's necessary that all male family members be kept apart from the females until hormones subside.

Due to such captive pack complications that arise during breeding season, the WCC will be lending a helping paw to the Trevor Zoo, a participant of the Red Wolf SSP that doesn't have the luxury of supplementary enclosure space to divide wolves during the winter months. It's only temporary, but on January 30th, Westchester's wolf population will increase by two!

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