Wolf Transfer Debrief: logistics

I’ve already talked about how we caught the wolves from the habitat, and a whole bunch about crates. Today, we’ll review the logistics, and all the somewhat boring but incredibly necessary pre-planning that occurred to help make this transfer as smooth as possible. Since this might not be the most thrilling part, enjoy these wonderful photos of the wolf family taken December 30, 2019

Planning for this transfer started in the summer of 2019, during the Red Wolf SSP Management Team meeting. Since this was not going to be a breeding transfer, we knew it could happen later in the year, so we had some breathing room. Early on, the legwork began with our Communications Team. In-house, it was important that questions were answered and everyone understood the importance of this decision and next steps for the Museum and the wolves.

As the fall approached, increased communications with Mill Mountain Zoo staff occurred, including an onsite visit to review plans, needs, set-up, answer questions, etc. Once the date was set for the transfer, we kicked up planning into high gear. It was time to make sure we had needs and questions out on the table and plans to get them answered. For example:

  • what equipment was needed (nets, brooms, hoop-sticks, crates, tarps, muzzles, microchip readers, gloves, etc.)
  • what would be the catch-up plan for 10-wolves ?!?
  • what and how many vehicles were needed. (did we have what we needed or were rentals required)
  • how many people were needed for the catch-up, the moving of wolves, doing the physicals, transferring to Virginia, and who would all these people be.
  • what veterinary procedures, vaccines, medicines, blood work, etc. were needed and who would work with our veterinary team to keep the time on the table for each wolf as brief as possible.
  • paperwork: what permits, licenses, transfer forms, records were needed
  • how would we take care of all our regular tasks and this massive project in the same day

For our catch-up, the work always starts at a dry erase board and includes a review of the people, and plan. A lot of markers and time at the dry erase board working out how things might flow.

Aaron and I often work through planning together. His handwriting is much neater than mine– he does the writing and I do the picture taking. We then convert the dry erase board plans to more user friendly documents.
We reviewed our catch-up plans in an earlier blog post. Several meetings occurred with the people involved int he catch-up. The above drawing and notes were reviewed ahead of time.

Detailed notes and checklists were created to assure that nothing (hopefully nothing) would fall through the cracks. Below are the excerpts from the notes about the day-before prep (Sunday plan), as well as a grid to help view how the Monday morning work would flow.

Our Monday schedule was lofty, but we were aiming for quick success. Everything shifted a bit later, starting with it wasn’t light enough to work in the wolf yard easiest until after 7:10 AM. Catching up and moving 10 wolves takes closer to 100 minutes. All in all, our hands on wolf work was done well before 1:30 PM…We really couldn’t have asked for much more.

Meeting after meeting occurred. Individual meetings, team meetings, all-staff meetings, brown bag meetings, phone meetings, with all the people that needed to be involved.

This was our final meeting around 6:50 AM Monday morning before heading to the wolf habitat to catch-up the wolves.

For medical tests and transfer crates, color coded tags were made for each wolf. Duplicate sample bags, for blood work or fecals, were created. The more ready ahead of time, the better it would be for everyone. Physical sheets for each wolf were set. A final checklist was created to be reviewed prior to leaving for Virginia.

name tags, colored tape, and samples bags were all prepped ahead of time and were available for easy access.

The number of people hours of prep time is hard to count. With 24 people involved Monday morning alone, to say it was hundreds of hours would not be an exaggeration.

Ask questions as you have any… and until next post.

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