Red Wolf Master Plan update

I’m in Chattanooga and I am getting ready for day two of the red wolf master plan meeting, which I wrote about a month or so ago. We covered a lot of important topics yesterday and had interesting discussions.

We learned which types of contraception we should, and more importantly should not use, if we have to contracept red wolves. Most of the time, for red wolves, we are able to use separation of males and females during the short breeding season, or pairing non-breeders (ones that are too old, too young, or have medical conditions as to why they cannot breed) as the means by which we contracept, but as the red wolf population grows we may need to find alternate ways to prevent unwanted offspring.

We also reviewed reproductive and genetic studies from the past 20 years. The data shows that female wolves age 3-6 are the most likely to have litters of pups. It’s best if younger males, 3-10, are the breeders too as sperm count goes down with age. And, again no surprise, the more inbred the wolves are, the smaller the litter size is.

Much more was discussed, but I need to run and get ready for today’s session where we start to make the recommendations for next year’s pairings and wolf transfers. Read more soon.

3 responses to Red Wolf Master Plan update

  1. Brad says:

    I was in Chattanooga over the weekend too. Hope you had a great meeting and I look forward to reading more about it!

  2. viridari says:

    I would like to discuss the Red Wolf project more with my home schooled children and one question that I don’t feel I would be able to adequately answer is why one would want to use contraceptives on a species that you’re trying to repopulate. I’m sure there is a good answer, but I don’t want to make one up. 😀

  3. Sherry says:

    Thanks for the question viridari.There’s three main reasons why contraception is used.Some wolves are siblings, or geneticially-speaking cousins or more closely related. We would not want these wolves to breed with each other: We want to make the genetically most diverse population possible.Some wolves may have genetic conditions that we don’t want to possibly pass on (like progressive retinal atrophy) or other conditions that pose problems (like a female who has given birth in the past and eaten both litters).Finally, because of space. With limited amounts of space to hold these wolves, we need to be very conscience of the ways and ones we breed.You can get in touch with me directly by going through the Museum website, or calling the museum and asking for Sherry if you want to talk more.

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