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The Last Fifty Red Wolves

(20 posts)
  1. mso489

    mso489

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    The population of Red Wolves is down to fifty. I'm no expert, but I'd say that was well below a viable breeding population for longterm species survival. I think they're probably gone. A friend in her eighties remembers her father in East Texas hunting them down by the dozens. It was a favorite with hunters and considered a pest to ranchers and sheep men among others. When her father grew older, Red Wolves disappeared in East Texas, and he explained this by saying they had moved north and west. That was mostly a fantasy. Some migrated, no doubt, but mostly the population was in decline. Now with "cousins mating with cousins," the wolves are probably already nearly extinct. Meanwhile, fox and coyote have moved into the suburbs and even the cities, dining out on household pets and human refuse. One hopes they eat some rats and other varmint. The last of the Red Wolves are probably headed to the dioramas at natural history museums. I'm hoping for a rebound, but I think this is dreamy optimism.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  2. jaytex969

    jaytex969

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    We are the invasive species on this planet. What a shame we can't figure out how to live in balance with our surroundings.

    Gunner, Black Frigate. Say "Hello" to my little friend!
    Posted 7 months ago #
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    aldecaker

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    We definitely need to reduce our population. I've been looking for volunteers for years, but so far, nothing.

    A man who serves his country is a patriot. A man who serves his government is an employee. The two are not always the same thing.
    Posted 7 months ago #
  4. seldom

    seldom

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    As a wildlife biologist it has sometimes seemed that by job is to document extinctions. Red Wolves are interesting animals. It is unclear where they fall in a taxonomic sense. Probably a hybrid between grey wolves and coyotes but it is unclear if that hybridization happened sometime in the very ancient past or more recently. At any rate the landscape will be impoverished without them.

    Seldom Seen
    Posted 7 months ago #
  5. mso489

    mso489

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    seldom, could the hybridization be between now-extinct other canines? Or is it clear they are a relatively new species? Coyotes seem so distinct to me -- the coat, the gait, the slumped posture, I don't see that in the red wolf much, unless they are the product of grey wolf dominance genes. All rhetorical questions for me, not being a student of animal DNA. It was a huge population, I guess like the bison. The bison are still with us, but I think there were always a few hundred thousand. Down from millions.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  6. mikethompson

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    I wonder, what with advances in genetics now, how difficult it would be to do a blood sample of a red wolf and clone them with minute differences making a viable gene pool.

    Posted 7 months ago #
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    jeff540

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    I prepared a senior paper/project on red wolves in college about 24 years ago. IIRC, the biggest challenge to bringing populations back was habitat reduction, which in turn bumped into species-specific population dynamics - the red wolf being without pack societies like the grey wolf (red wolf being solitary or keeping to a small family unit at most). Large tracts of forested wetland habitat in the mid and south east being turned into agriculture fields and/or housing developments.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  8. seldom

    seldom

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    The taxonomy of red wolves is debated. Firstly whether they deserve recognition as a species. DNA evidence strongly suggests lineage from both gray wolves and coyotes. The next question is how long ago that hybridization happened. Some argue that it was very recent. Others argue that it happened a little longer ago. The breakdown is something like 75% coyote 25% gray wolf.
    Bison are another matter all together. Currently many of the so-called bison have been interbred with domestic cows. There are still some "pure" American bison but not many.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  9. shanez

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    the biggest challenge to bringing populations back was habitat reduction

    Given the numbers of red wolves in captivity this would be key not genetics.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  10. raevans

    raevans

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    Not so sure that I would put the biggest challenge as habitat. Although it is a key factor in many ways, it seems that the biggest threat has been the breeding habits of Red Wolves and Coyote's. It seems that every reintroduction has ended the same way, a larger population of Red Wolf hybrids. It may be nature doing what nature does. In order for the Red Wolf to survive in todays environment, it must evolve. The way that it has found to do this is by breeding with a species that has well adapted to pretty much any habitat that it has been introduced to, the Coyote.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  11. seldom

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    There is evidence that very strongly suggests Red Wolves are Grey Wolf/Coyote hybrids to begin with.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  12. saltedplug

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    Man is undoubtedly the smartest and prolific of Earth's species, but he is also incredibly arrogant, selfish and acquisitive, having very little regard for other men but most certainly other non-human species. They have no place to go and are exterminated if they get in our way.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  13. mso489

    mso489

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    Humans have big energy burning brains and huge adaptability, but if smart means destructive, even of the species itself, how smart are we? I regard the many older species as having evolutionary "intelligence" that humans haven't yet attained. Crocodiles, roaches, and locusts hardly seem intelligent in the human sense, but they survive well over vast reaches of time, which people may or may not. In a poetic way, I think of many different species as our great grandparents. We should do as well.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  14. hiplainsdrifter

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    I am lucky to live somewhere that wolves still roam wild (re-introduced grey wolves, not red wolves). They are an incredibly hot button political topic around here. Most people hate them and drive around with "Shoot, shovel, shut up" and "Wolves:smoke a pack a day" bumper stickers on their trucks. They are loathed for their perceived impact on livestock (largely exaggerated) and their impact on wild ungulate populations. Many hunters only care about having a slightly better chance at shooting a big bull elk, and don't appreciate competition from other predators. Unfortunately, there is also the prevailing idea that predator management is decided by 'liberals' and 'tree huggers' who live in the city somewhere but don't actually have to deal with the animals. Fortunately, all this hate is tempered by a minority of people that see both the utility of having apex predators in an ecosystem, and appreciate that 'dangerous' animals like wolves belong on wild landscapes. I realize this post is toeing the political line, but so is this topic, and I thought it would be interesting to share what it is like to live on the front lines of species preservation.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  15. peckinpahhombre

    peckinpahhombre

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    I love Red Wolves. They are especially nice cooked to a medium rare and served with a 2004 Brunello.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  16. olkofri

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    he is also incredibly arrogant, selfish and acquisitive

    He is also very easy to manipulate into hating himself and his species through guilt about "being invasive, colonialist, supremacist, polluting, xenophobic, intolerant, tobacco-addicted, &c., &c.". Thus, man is a wolf not only to other men, but to himself.

    I'm immune to guilt. If I have to chop down a tree or drop an animal to secure my way of life, so be it.

    Not the sweet, new grass with flowers is this harvesting of mine;
    Not the upland clover bloom...
    Posted 7 months ago #
  17. uncleblackie

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    "being invasive, colonialist, supremacist, polluting, xenophobic, intolerant, tobacco-addicted, &c., &c.".

    Who exactly are you quoting with that?

    Posted 7 months ago #
  18. warren

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    Let us not forget, man is the only species who can recognize and often times repair mistakes if so desired. And, there for those always condemning mankind, lies the conundrum.

    Me? I'm still a fervent believer in "survival of the fittest." But, I'm not totally opposed to abetting those species we've harmed or those which cannot/will not adapt.

    A man without a shillelagh is a man without an expedient.
    Posted 7 months ago #
  19. workman

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    Where I live we have a certain breed of horses. They were almost extinct a few years ago, but are now thriving. They were down to 30-40 heads, so it is possible to replenish from a small number.
    It might be more difficult with wild wolves than with domesticated horses though, but probably possible.

    Smoking is one of the leading causes of all statistics.
    Posted 7 months ago #
  20. mso489

    mso489

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    peck, if I were at a wild game restaurant, canines aren't what I'd order, partly out of sentimental attachment to my old dog George, but also having heard that canines aren't so tasty to the Western diner. Although your wine pairing sounds good, maybe with a steak. workman, I think gene pool of substantial size is needed for a healthy population. But I hope your local horses have what the need. I think that's why young animals, like cougars or bears and many others (not just mammals) wander afar looking for territory, so they mate with creatures not of their tribe.

    Posted 7 months ago #

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