Florida Panhandle's endangered red wolves survive Hurricane Michael | MNN
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St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge can be seen in the background of this sand-clogged dock across the way. Once the storm had passed, it was time for biologists to see how the animals fared. (Photo: Dan Chapman/USFWS)
Apalachicola, Florida Bradley Smith stood tall on the bow of the SeaArk 21-footer with a VHF antenna held high. It was quiet, too quiet. It had been six days since Hurricane Michael devastated the Panhandle and Smith was listening for signs of life on St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge.
He couldn't hear the red wolf's tell-tale ping.
But then, almost imperceptibly, he heard it the sonar-like sound that announces a wolf's presence. But, just as quickly, it disappeared. Smith, a biologist, couldn't tell if the wolf was alive.
He heard it again. And again.
"That's a wolf right there. That's the female," the easily excitable Smith said. "She's on the refuge somewhere and she's alive. She's probably three-quarters of a mile away. She's in there somewhere."
He switched frequencies hoping to hear the male wolf. The pings double in frequency if a wolf hasn't moved i.e., it's dead over the course of six hours.
Smith heard a ping and another at normal speed.
"That's the male," he said. "Probably about a half mile away. We've got two adult wolves pretty close together. That's good news."
This is the paw print of a red wolf at St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge in Apalachicola, Florida. (Phot....