The importance of red wolf field biologists

In my previous post about red wolves, I discussed the 5 County Recovery Area. This area currently holds the only wild population of red wolves, and is closely monitored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). It takes a lot of hard work to keep updated records and statistics on this wild population because red wolves are notoriously shy and elusive. Some of the people willing to take on the demanding challenge of gathering this information are field biologists.

These individuals dedicate much of their time to patiently watching and waiting as they try to locate, trap and collar red wolves and gather information on their pups. They are constantly having to improve their techniques because the wolves catch on to their trapping methods quickly. It is crucial that the entire wild population be suited with tracking collars so the biologists can monitor all the packs’ movements and keep up with how many pups are born each year. Currently, about three quarters of the population is collared, which is a substantial percentage that allows the biologists much of the information they need.

The field biologists also put a lot of effort into building good relationships with the landowners inside the Recovery Area. This step is imperative if the re-introduction of red wolves is to be successful. After all, the homeowners are now sharing their backyards with them! The field biologists work hard to educate the public so they realize that the re-introduction is a positive step for having a well-balanced ecosystem, as well as being an economic stimulus for their towns when people come to the wolf howlings on the refuge. Even more so, many people need the re-assurance that red wolves do not want to harm them, and there is very little to be fearful of.

I had the pleasure of listening to Art Beyer, a long-standing field biologist with the USFWS, speak about the characteristics of his job at a red wolf conference last year. Hearing some of the stories he told about how difficult the job was, it became clear to me that nothing comes easily to field biologists. However, he emphasized that the gratification he gets from his job is well worth the effort. It takes a special kind of person, who has an amazing amount of patience and dedication, to be a field biologist. Especially when it comes to studying red wolves, there aren’t too many animals that are more elusive.

Top photo: field biologists weighing and recording the health information of a red wolf pup.

Left photo: red wolf wearing a radio tracking collar. (click on photo to enlarge)

Both photos courtesy of

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