Category: Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Red Wolf Pup WM

Would you like to directly impact the future of a critically endangered species?

Currently, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is in the process of determining if the Red Wolf Recovery Program will continue.  This project has great personal significance to me, given that I was directly involved in efforts to save this species. In 2009,  while working at Lincoln Park Zoo I flew from Chicago with four, 1 week old red wolf pups in a carry-on suitcase!  We were head to Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina to link up with biologists to cross-foster the captive born pups into wild red wolf dens to bolster the wild red wolf population.

Click here for my 2009 travel blog featured on Lincoln Park Zoo’s website with lots of photos.

This species is one of the most endangered carnivores in the world (only about 80-110 in the wild) and drastic measures were and are needed to save it. With the intensive conservation measures mentioned above the population is slowly increasing but more work is required.

If you feel that red wolves are worth saving, please send your comments, concerns, or information to the following e-mail:  Input needs to be provided by September 26th (next Friday)

Additional information on the Red Wolf Recovery Program can be found by clicking here.

Thanks for your support!



Snapping turtle watermark

They may not be considered pretty by many but no one can argue that they are adaptable.  Snapping turtle ancestors date back some 40 million years! On the other hand human ancestors have only been around as a species for about 200,000 years. Which begs the question, would snapping turtles prefer living with dinosaurs over living with humans?

As human induced climate change continues they will need to continue to adapt or face extinction. The gender of snapping turtles and several egg laying reptiles is determined by the temperature the eggs are incubated at. Female will develop at colder temperatures and males at higher temperatures.  Only a few degrees of difference is needed to change the sex of the soon to be hatched eggs, but if global warming continues these reptiles will have to modify their nesting behaviours if they are going to survive.

In this photo, a female was on the move to try to find a good spot to lay her eggs. After taking this photo I carefully lifted her up to avoid being bitten and took her across the road to make sure she made it safely. Everyone needs a helping hand once in a while and now more than ever wildlife needs ours!

rat snake eating a copperhead rattlesnake 2I was walking along a path in Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge when I heard lots of rustling behind where I had just come from. I turned back and saw a black snake flopping around on the ground and then all of a sudden it stopped.  I raced back with my camera and started taking pictures. It wasn’t until I got close enough that I realized this black racer had ambushed a juvenile copperhead  (venomous) and was in the process of eating it!  The only way this snake would be able to eat the venomous copperhead without dying is if it managed to get the head into it’s mouth before the snake could bite it, and then suffocate it to death which must have been what the initial rustling was. The next few photos are of the racer consuming the copperhead, an event that to my knowledge has never been documented or photographed before!

black racer carrying off a copperhead rattlesnake to finish eatingAfter less than 30 seconds, the black racer elevated the front part of it’s body off the ground and slithered into the bushes with the copperhead firmly grasped in the mouth and two thirds of the body dangling alongside the racer.

black racer after eating copperheadI took this photo just after the snkae had finished off the copperhead. No doubt it was going to need to rest and digest for awhile.

Canebrake rattlesnake 1

While helping out with a red wolf recovery project (photos to come later) we came across this timber rattlesnake basking in the late afternoon sun.  I crawled out on the road to get this photo, making sure to stay back far enough that if it tried to strike me it wouldn’t be able to reach.

Copperhead snake

An adult copperhead rattlesnake found resting under some old, discarded plywood.  Under the same bunch of plywood was a black racer and blue spotted salamanders.

Banded water snake 1

This non-venomous snake was also basking on a gravel road. With a head-on-shot and small apeture (2.8) I was able to get just the face and surrounding gravel in focus with the remainder of the body out of focus and angling through the frame for a more intersting photo.