Arkansas State University of Jonesboro said this week that it will increase its role the preservation of the endangered American red wolf species, with one of its research centers designated to collect blood and tissue samples of the animals.
The university, which adopted red wolves as its mascot in 2008, said it will "leverage its educational, research and communication resources" in the effort to protect the animals. It said its Arkansas Center for Biodiversity Collections has been designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the national specimen bank for blood and tissue samples for red wolves. Remains of deceased red wolves will also be processed by the center.
A-State's projects with the wildlife service and the Endangered Wolf Center in St. Louis were presented last week at the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan Education Summit and Conservation Centers for Species Survival meeting at the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Florida.
"An estimated 274 red wolves remain in the U.S., and 234 of those are in captivity at wildlife centers and zoos," said Thomas Risch, a professor of animal ecology and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. "We will catalog all specimens and provide valuable research guidance to Red Wolf SSP participants in ongoing breeding and protection efforts."
The university said its depository designation will be similar to efforts at the University of New Mexico's Museum of Southwestern Biology, which handles historic specimens of the endangered Mexican wolf.
Tracy Klotz, a biology instructor, is A-State's collection manager for mammals and will work with faculty and students in the department to process and research specimens submitted by facilities throughout the country that house red wolves. He provided participants with carcass, tissue and blood sampling protocols.
"This is an extraordinary opportunity for the Department of Biological Sciences to have a major role in the conservation and research of an iconic American mammal species that is the most endangered wolf in the world," Risch said. "I'm happy that our university, and in particular our wildlife ecology students, can accept an important role in protecting a species that is also our beloved mascot."