Saint Vincent Island | Where Red Wolves Learn to Be Wild

Saint Vincent Island | Where Red Wolves Learn to Be Wild

[Music]>>Robin Vroegop: It’s up to us all to understand
that they’ve got to have space, somehow. They’ve got to have space. They cannot survive and be the same animal
they are now if they’re just in captivity.>>Rob Diaz de Villegas: When pups are born
at the Tallahassee Museum, the goal isn’t to keep all of them captive. But you can’t just put a captive born wolf
in the wild.>>Mike Jones: We’ve got this captive population,
and we’d like to try and introduce some to the wild. But they don’t know anything about living
in the wild. They’ve been fed all their lives; they’ve
lived in captivity. And they were taking captive bred wolves and
they were putting them, together on these islands, like here at Saint Vincent Island,
a hundred miles from here. [Music]>>Rob Diaz de Villegas: We’re going to the
island with Robin and Mike Vroegop, two longtime volunteers and friends of the refuge. In her years of volunteering, Robin has become
well acquainted with the island’s red wolves.>>Robin Vroegop: What the US Fish and Wildlife
has done is they’ve carefully selected a male and a female pair of red wolves, based
on their genetics. Because they want to diversify that gene pool. They introduce them here. This is a big enough habitat to support one
wolf family.>>Velma Frye and Becky Reardon (singing):
Hey-o, Hey-ya-ya
Saint Vincent Island.>>Robin Vroegop: Look Rob, no hands!>>Velma Frye and Becky Reardon (singing):
Saint Vincent Island.>>Robin Vroegop: When I teach, especially
children, I always bring a whelk shell. Even if I don’t have a map of the island,
I can talk about the shape of the island by holding up a whelk, because it’s shaped
like a whelk. Here’s the fat end, and here’s the skinny
end. And there are a lot of whelk shells out here. We’re going to go out onto the beach and
come out into this very interesting area that a lot of people don’t know about:
Oyster Pond outlet and Rattlesnake slough.>>Rob Diaz de Villegas: Oyster pond shows
us what makes this particular island ideal for red wolves.>>Robin Vroegop: The unique thing about Saint
Vincent Island, especially in this area, but also for the whole Gulf coast, is we have
five freshwater lakes. All we are on Saint Vince’ is a succession
of dune ridges and swales between the dune ridges. And the swales between the dune ridges are
what collect the fresh water, and that’s where you’ll find the freshwater lakes. But for the red wolves, for sure, they’re
mammals, they’re going to have, just like the needs that we need, fresh water, shelter,
cover, food sources. Which, that means, their food sources normally
require fresh water sources. It’s also suitable because in a relatively
small piece of land, 12,000 acres, surrounded by salt water, you’ve got a diversity of
habitats here. So you’ve got different kinds of vegetation,
different kinds of animals, in a small distance.>>Velma Frye and Becky Reardon (singing):
When the river brought the sand from Appalachian highlands,
The wind and tides together made a brand new island,
The seeds took hold, the green plants grew, And butterflies came when the flowers bloomed,
Let’s keep Saint Vincent Island, Green and free,
Where wild things live in harmony.>>Rob Diaz de Villegas: Saint Vincent Island
has everything red wolves need to thrive. But are they equipped to survive when nature
gets dangerous? Here on the island’s highest ridge, Robin
remembers the wolves’ most harrowing moment.>>Robin Vroegop: My experience with Hurricane
Dennis. Based on what the pine trees looked like on
the beachfront, we had probably a twelve-foot tidal surge that came through the island. That meant, because of the elevation of the
island, that much of the island was covered by tidal surge. And so two days after the hurricane came through,
[I] came out with the refuge manager, because the biologist just happened to be out of town. So we started going up and down the roads
that were passable on the island. And I had my antenna and my earphones, and
I was very, very concerned. We were all very, very concerned that we had
lost the red wolves, because there was so much water everywhere, and deveastation. We really were expecting to hear what we call
a mortality signal. That’s when you have a solid beep instead
of the beep-beep, it’s just beeeep. Like that. So, we were going around and we got within
about a half a mile of the center of the island. And we suddenly heard… [Beep, beep, beep]>>Robin Vroegop: …the signal of 982! I still get upset about it, every time I talk
about it! I was so happy to hear that signal. I just could not believe that she could have
had the intelligence and the experience to know where to take those puppies, to the highest
point on the island. She knew this island obviously very well,
and she knew just what to do when Dennis came through and the water rose. And I think that’s, that’s probably the
lesson is that if it’s not a really authentic experience, they’re not going to have the
experience they need when they get released back into the wild.>>Velma Frye and Becky Reardon (singing):
Saint Vincent Island, Let it be,
Forever a sanctuary.>>Rob Diaz de Villegas: For WFSU, I’m Rob
Diaz de Villegas.>>Velma Frye and Becky Reardon (singing):
Saint Vincent Island. Hey-o, Hey yaya…

1 Reply to “Saint Vincent Island | Where Red Wolves Learn to Be Wild”

  1. Okay… I love yalls channel. . I've watched every episode y'all have put on your channel. I love the cinematography and the places you visit in our region because they are the same ones I frequent, as well as the important conservation information you present. Now I don't know if y'all are too short on budget, or doing favors for friends, but the music in 95% of your videos is abysmal. I love folk music, it's not that; it's that you have these lovely, well shot images juxtaposed against underproduced Joan Baez Lite with the most unimaginative lyrics imaginable

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