Wolf Transfer Day: let’s talk about crates

Last week I talked about catching up the wolves. The focus of post #2 about red wolf transfer day will be on CRATES.

In order to catch up 10 wolves, we not only need more than 10 crates (ideally), but very specific sizes and types in order to make our work go as easily as possible.

The work starts well ahead of time to make sure we have the crates on grounds: a minimum of 10 of the “x-large” size, that can come apart, top half from the bottom half. This size crate fits through our wolf yard gates and all our doors we need to head through. For getting a wolf out of a crate (which we’ll talk about in another post), we want the crate to come apart.

By the Wednesday before our Monday catch-up, 11 x-large crates were gathered, checked for smooth operation, bungees added, additional holes drilled where cable ties were needed for security, and weighed. We weighed them empty ahead of time so we could get accurate and easy weights once a wolf was in the crate. After all of the above occurred, these 11 crates went to the wolf yard area ready to go for Monday.

Loading up the crated wolves after catching them, from the wolf habitat, to head to our work areas in the main building
Unloading the crates at the building

All crates were transported to the building in two different vans. 10 wolf crates do not fit in one vehicle!

As each crate was offloaded, weights were taken. We had already written the pre-wolf crate weights directly on each crate. Now, with wolf inside, we weighed each crate again. You can see Aaron on the floor, ensuring the crate was fully on the scale and not touching the floor so our weight was true.

Once we had the weights, each crate moved into Carolina Wildlife. One by one all 10 crates, with wolves, went to the tarped area to wait until it was time for its physical. (We covered Carolina Wildlife in tarps to keep our mess contained and away from the carpet. Given the rain and mud, anywhere a crate- or human- went, mud was left behind).

the 10 wolves, crated.

At this point, we were ready to get each wolf their physical. We’ll talk about this part in a later post (sorry… you’ll just have to wait to hear and see about that part!)

So, let’s jump ahead to the crating on the “back-end”, once the wolf physicals were complete. Remember I said we needed more than 10 crates. In order to most efficiently move quickly, we want spare crates that are clean and ready to put a wolf in after it has its physical.

In the photo below, on the other side of Carolina Wildlife, we had a couple spare, clean crates. While we cleaned each crate as the wolf came out for its check, we had a new crate, always ready, with bedding for the trip to Virginia.

Tarps covered our work area in Carolina Wildlife. Clean crates, with bedding for the trip, were staged Sunday night before our work day Monday.

As each wolf finished its physical, it went into a clean crate, with fresh bedding. Each crate was clearly labeled who was inside. Pink and blue tape and labels were used to clearly identify which wolf was in which crate. It’s not very PC to use “pink” and “blue” colors, but it is crystal-clear and that is an important part of this process. This was a critical step, since the wolves were being separated by sex at Mill Mountain Zoo. We wanted to make it as easy and clear as possible in the offloading in the dark… all three females to one holding area and all five males separated next to them.

a close up of our tags. This crate, weighed 9.4 Kgs empty, before we started. It weighed 36.1 Kgs with a wolf in it. On the back-end, this is the crate we used to transfer Mist, one of our female pups born in 2019.

Our last step before loading up for the drive was to again check crate security. In addition to cable tying the crate halves together, we tie the four corners of the cage door to the crate.

Finally, all 10 crates, with lots of supplies, were loaded into two different vans to hit the road for Virginia

Moose, the father of the crew, got a GIANT crate. Given his giant size of 88 pounds we decided he would get an even larger crate to make the trip in.

It’s now two weeks later, and with the help of our Outdoor Landscape Environment Team (below), we are almost finished cleaning all the crates and storing them for the next time we need to catch up 10 wolves!

Alex, Savannah, and David lent a hand with clean-up

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