Friday, August 1, 2014

The Cutest Babies in the World

I've been a member of the National Wildlife Federation for a number of years now.  Each month their magazine, chock-full of great photos and in-depth articles, never fails to delight.

The August/September issue contained a great article about Red Wolves--with photos, of course:

[Red Wolf pups, image credit National Wildlife Federation]

Never heard of Red Wolves?  Many people have not.  From the NWF website:

Smaller and ruddier in color than their gray wolf cousins, the red wolf is one of the most endangered canids in the world. Though red wolves once ranged across the southeastern United States, years of hunting and habitat loss had driven the species to the brink of extinction by 1970.
As part of an ambitious captive-breeding program, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service captured the 14 remaining red wolves they could find in the wild. These wolves are the ancestors of the 100-120 animals that now live in North Carolina, the first animal to be successfully reintroduced after being declared extinct in the wild.
Within their ecosystem, the wolves play a valuable role in keeping numbers of prey like deer in check. In turn the smaller prey populations are less likely to balloon out of control and consume all available nutrients in their habitat. Additionally, though no studies have conducted to quantify this, the wolves’ preference for nuisance species, like nutria and raccoons, helps to reduce damage to crops and other human activities.

Anyway, before the summer's out our family will be making its annual vacation pilgrimage to North Carolina's Outer Banks.  This summer we plan to make an excursion to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, where these few dozen red wolves run wild and free.  They have a ranger-led red wolf program for visitors that we will attend, upon which I will report back later.

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