The Beach, The Night, The Wolves
by Mark MacAllister
June 21, 2002
The red wolf research team at the Alligator River National
Wildlife Refuge has been experimenting with an unusual
approach to tracking red wolf activity in the remotest part
of the region. During Fall 2000, researchers with the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service set up a pair of cameras on the
beach at Stumpy Point, which is located on the far eastern
side of the Refuge. Along with the cameras, they set up an
infrared transmitter, which sent an invisible beam of light
to a nearby infrared receiver. The cameras were then
programmed to snap a photograph if anything blocked the beam
by passing between the transmitter and receiver. Finally,
FWS buried several scent lures and baits to attract wolves.
In the media column on the right side of this page are some
photos obtained on Stumpy Point. The wolf in these pictures
(known as 747F, a female) is part of an adult breeding pair
with 662M. Both are part of the Pamlico Pack. The male was
born into the Milltail Pack, and then lived as the adult
breeder in the River Pack until his mate died last year from
a heartworm infection. After she died, he moved 15 miles to
the southeast and paired with the Pamlico female, whose mate
had been killed by a vehicle a few months before these
photos were taken.
The goal of the project was to photograph wolf pups, and in
doing so prove that the pair had bred successfully in 2000.
However, while setting and checking the cameras, the FWS
crew saw only the tracks of adult wolves, and no pups showed
in any of the photos.
Think About It
The quality of the photos is not great, since they were shot
in nearly pitch-black conditions, but they can tell us a bit
about what happens at night in the Refuge. Would you expect
red wolves and other animals to be more, or less, active at
night time? What activities do you think red wolves carry
out at night? What else can we tell about the wolves from
these photos? What other animals would you expect to see at
night in this habitat?
About the author:
Mark MacAllister is the Project Coordinator for Field
Would you like to comment on this article?
View printer-friendly version