This year’s wolf physicals complete

This year’s wolf physicals are done. All wolves and people did great. It went a lot like last year and starts with lots and lots of planning. (click here to read about last year’s physicals)

The pups watching us as we prepare to start
Our team entering the wolf yard at 8:04 AM.

The first phase of work is catching up our wolves from the yard. Working in our wolf yard and along the cliff is a bit daunting. As with the pup checks all summer long, both pups ran into the den rather quickly. After which, we got our tarp-teams  into position and corralled the parents into the side cage area. (click here to see an example of what it looks like with tarps up)

A drawing of our plan of attack for the catch. Aaron gets all the credit for the beautiful drawing.

Eli helped mostly with watching and timing the catch as compared to photographing it. Here’s the timeline for the wolf yard work (catching, crating, and getting everyone to the building for their physicals).

  • Entered wolf yard at 8:04am
  • Pups in front den (locked in den) and parents in separate side cages at 8:13am
  • Crating F2062 started 8:14 and done at 8:18
  • Crating M1803 started at 8:19 and done at 8:20

Notice the times above for crating the adults. She, F2062, was feisty and unsettled, moving nervously and anxiously in the side cage until we helped her into the crate. He, M1803, on the other hand, walked calmly right into his crate.

At this point our team of 12 dispersed, leaving five behind to crate up the pups from the den and drive back to the building. The pups were hunkered down on top of each other in the narrow tunnel into the den. This meant a little more time to get the right tools to make extraction as safe as possible for all involved.

Eli’s timeline continues as follows:

  • Re-enter wolf yard around 8:23
  • Crated first pup starting at 8:33 and done at 8:34
  • Crating the other pup starting at 8:36 and done by 8:38
  • Left wolf yard by 8:43

At this point, we had four crates to load into our vehicles to drive them to the building. We started around 8:44, had all four crates loaded, and were at the building around 9:00 AM.

With the catching, crating, and moving phase complete, it was time to re-focus and finalize our plans for the actual physicals.

Our veterinary team this year all smiles after our work: Dr. Vanderford on the far right, with her colleague Dr. Kolstad on the far left. In the middle, Drs. Oh and Mowat from NCSU Veterinary College. Dr. Mowat (next to Dr. Vanderford) leads the research on PRA, Progressive Retinal Atrophy.

The plan this year was very similar to last year. We would quickly and deliberately muzzle and move each wolf onto the procedure table, non-sedated, and work less than 10 minutes per wolf.

Dr. Vanderford and Dr. Kolstad took care of blood, vaccines, and general physical exam while Drs. Mowat and Oh from NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine conducted eye exams for their work.

The pups are now like mini-adult wolves, each weighing 20 Kg. At almost 6  months old they still have a lot of growing to do in the next year. I bet that next year they’ll each weigh over 30 Kg when we do their physicals.

Mom, F2062, weighed 25.4 Kg this year. Almost identical to her weight last November. Dad, M1803, is huge, and we had the scale teeter a bit. With that said, he was almost 38 Kg (37.9 Kg at the highest weight). He’s the largest red wolf I’ve ever worked with- and one of the largest red wolves ever. Although the largest, he was the calmest by far during all phases of today’s work.


Autumn on the scruff of pup 2246 as we finished gathering blood

Blood is taken for three purposes: First, to send off for chem panels, blood counts, and heartworm tests to see how the wolves’ values are at the moment. NCSU took blood samples for each wolf for the PRA research. Finally, samples are sent of to Arkansas State University to be banked in perpetuity.

Drs. Kolstad and Vanderford drawing blood. Katy is in the back getting a temperature, while Aaron and Autumn were holding this wolf on the table.

A long successful day is done and I am sure everyone- wolf and human- is glad it’s over!

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