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Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge: Red Wolf Reemergence In The Wild
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The ARNWR is a 152,000-acre National Wildlife Refuge located in East Lake, NC thatis managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). On March 14, 1984, conservationists established the Refuge to preserve and protect its unique wetland habitat type (pocosin)and the wildlife that inhabits the area.
The Refuge’s habitat types include bogs, fresh and brackish water marshes, hardwood swamps, Atlantic White Cedar swamps, and high and low pocosin. Pocosin is a type of “palustrine wetland with deep, acidic, sandy, peat soils.”Groundwater (water beneath the earth's surface, often between saturated soil and rock) soaks the ground except during short, seasonal dry periods and prolonged droughts. (Source: Wikipedia).
Alligator River is one of the last fortresses for the American black bear in eastern North Carolina and along the mid-Atlantic coast. The refugesupports ducks, geese, swans, wading birds, shorebirds, raptors, quail, migrating songbirds, American woodcocks, Red-cockaded woodpeckers,White-tailed deer, raccoons, rabbits, North American river otters, and American alligators. In addition, Alligator River is famous for re-establishing the Red wolf back into the wild.
The Red Wolf
History of Endangerment
The Red wolf population was in danger many years before the Refuge was founded. The Red wolf is native to the southeastern United States. However, this species had been eliminated from its range, except for a small section of its original hunting grounds. By the early 1970s, the FWS had captured the few remaining Red wolves and declared the species extinct in the wildby 1980. Through a captive breeding program, this small Red wolf population was sustained while FWS searched for a suitable habitat where the wolves could be re-established in the wild. Alligator River was just the spot: The wolves could find food and escape people in its immensenew territory.
In 1986, a five-year experiment to rebuild a self-sustaining Red wolf population in the wild began. Naturally, Red wolves soon adapted to life in the wild and continue to roam free in eastern North Carolina today.
Red Wolf "Howling" Tours
From June through August 2013, the Red Wolf Recovery Program hosted 12 howling events. According to their recent blog post, more than 640 people attended these events and helped raise over $3,250, which funds Red wolf conservation efforts.
The Red Wolf Howling Tour begins with a lecture about the Red Wolf. Next, guests travel in a caravan of vehicles to a secluded location deep in the woods of the Refuge. Here, participants howl at the wolves, and, with some luck, the wolves howl back.
Fall 2013 Tours (free, no registration required)
• Full Moon Howl:November 16, from 5:00-6:30 pm
• Holiday Howl:December 7, from 5:00-6:30 pm
Review the Refuge regulations, which are available at the ARWR Visitor Center.Keep in mind that camping and fires are prohibited, and it is illegal to litter, cut down trees, or remove certain plants. United States Park Rangers regularly patrol the area to enforce these laws.
For a unique Outer Banks Vacation adventure, consider one of the howling tours offered this fall. Contact the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau or FWS for more information.
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