In my previous post about red wolves, I discussed how the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has been helping red wolves to reclaim former territories that were taken over by coyotes years ago. Even with the success that the USFWS has had in re-establishing red wolves in the wild, there are other factors that still threaten the population’s stability. As I mentioned in an earlier post, gunshot mortality is the biggest threat to red wolves. But another factor that can have an impact is the contraction of diseases from domestic dogs.
The USFWS tried introducing red wolves into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park before introducing them at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge (ARNWR). Many people never heard about this first attempt because the population encountered unexpected challenges. One of the main reasons for its unfortunate demise was because of Parvo. The USFWS has found that, even after vaccination, red wolves are still more vulnerable to the Parvo virus. Mange is another disease that has surfaced in the wild red wolf population, and distemper could become problematic, as well.
Picture left: a red wolf with mange
These diseases could cause significant losses within the red wolf population at ARNWR. Therefore, the USFWS is hoping to initiate a Disease Prevention Plan to help reduce the risk of outbreaks. Being aware of which diseases are the most threatening, and possessing the capabilities to possibly control the frequency of infections, could increase the success rate in which other red wolf populations are able to sustain themselves at new sites in the future.
Red wolf photo found at http://www.fieldtripearth.org/