Helping Bring Back Red Wolves

Allison Welde is SFI Director, Conservation Partnerships and Communications, and identifies areas of potential collaboration with conservation groups and other SFI stakeholders.

If anyone ever asks you why the SFI Standard has objectives to conserve working forests, tell them to take a take a look at these pups on the cover of the third quarter report of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Red Wolf Recovery Program. The red wolf is one of the most endangered canids in the world, and the territory of one of the reintroduced packs includes working forest land owned by Weyerhaeuser.

Red wolves (Canis rufus) were once common across the eastern and south-central United States but fell victim to predator control programs and loss of habitat. To protect the species from extinction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service captured as many as possible in the 1970s so they could breed them in captivity and reintroduce them. The Service found 17 pure red wolves, and 14 of them became founding members of the captive-breeding program, which means they are ancestors of all red wolves existing today.

When the wolves were released in 1993, some were located in the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern North Carolina, near Weyerhaeuser lands. One of the packs included the company’s lands as part of their territory, and Weyerhaeuser allowed USFWS access to the land to keep track of the wolves.

The Weyerhaeuser pack consists of a radio-collared breeding pair, and in April 2010 they had five pups in a den located on Weyerhaeuser land. They are among 74 known red wolves, including 13 breeding pairs, in the recovery area – about 1.7 million acres in northeastern North Carolina. This year, the Red Wolf Recovery Program documented nine litters, totaling 42 pups.

The red wolf is the first predator to be restored to the wild after being extirpated in the wild. Restoring them brings back diversity, balance and stability to the natural ecosystem. If you’re interested in the Red Wolf Recovery Program, you’ll want to check out a new weblog that combines text, images, videos and links.

The SFI program recognizes exemplary conservation projects through our conservation awards or supports them directly through our SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grants. But there are plenty of examples of stewardship and partnerships that fly under the radar – like red wolf recovery on working forest lands.

Pups  Picture 031

Photo: Ryan Nordsven, USFWS.

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