Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Refuge red wolf howling safaris begin

Every summer the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Red Wolf Recovery Program and the Red Wolf Coalition jointly sponsor weekly howling safaris. The 2006 summer safari schedule began in mid-June and runs through the first week in September. Pre-registration is required. Times vary as times for sunset vary, so participants should verify the starting time when they register. The highlight of the evening is listening to the characteristic "howl" of one or more red wolves as they communicate with each other and the "howlers" in the group. The 2005 safaris hosted over 1,000 people.

Registered participants meet on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge at Creef Cut Wildlife Trail, located at the intersection of Milltail Road and Highway 64. A short presentation provides an overview of the Red Wolf Recovery Program and the role of the Red Wolf Coalition, a friends organization dedicated to the preservation of red wolves. There are hands-on experiences, and the program is highly recommended for all age groups. While it's rare to see a wolf, participants are almost certain to hear them howl. Visitors will have the opportunity to try howling and listen for a response. Red wolves howled at every weekly safari during 2005.

Prior to the presentation, the Red Wolf Coalition will have items available for sale, including T-shirts, hats, bumper stickers and journals. These sales support red wolf education and outreach and will also go toward building a red wolf visitor center near Columbia.

The red wolf is one of the most endangered animals in the world, and its story of recovery is a remarkable one. According to Bud Fazio, Red Wolf Recovery Program team Leader, "The Service is heartened to see its restoration efforts successfully pull red wolves back from the brink of extinction. Forty years ago, only a handful of red wolves were found in the wild. Today, nearly 100 wild red wolves roam freely across five eastern North Carolina counties. There is a saying, 'Endangered means there's still time.' We have shown there is enough time to restore red wolves to a level more likely to ensure their long-term survival."

For a 2006 schedule or to register for a safari, please contact the Red Wolf Coalition at 796-5600 or visit its web site at

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