Special Mission: Species Survival
In addition to flying dogs and cats to safety, we sometimes help transport wildlife as well. That was the case in late July, when we helped the Niabi Zoo‘s conservation program by transporting two baby Fennec Foxes – Bitti and his brother Bikku. The transfer was done at the recommendation of the Fennec Fox Species Survival Program, for the purpose of sustaining Fennec Fox captive populations and spreading the educational messaging of this incredible species.
PTTR Pilot Wes Kautzmann flew from Elkhart, Indiana to Moline, Illinois to pick Bitti and Bikku up from their caretakers at Niabi Zoo and fly them 1,100+ miles to Ellenville, New York. There they were met by Animal Embassy Founder Chris Evers. The next morning little Bitti continued on to Buttonwood Zoo in Massachusetts.
The flight cut several hours off the duration of their trip and was a huge improvement over flying cargo from a safety and comfort standpoint. “Flying animals or transferring in general is always a stress filled process” said Niabi Zoo Assistant Director Tammy Schmidt, “however having the honor of flying our little kits with Pilots to the Rescue was quite a relief. Thank you for this smooth transition for the boys.”
These two adorable foxes will both become Animal Ambassadors – Bitti in Massachusetts and Bikku in Connecticut, helping to educate and inspire society to protect wildlife and wild places and helping the public learn about the importance of Species Survival Plans.
Pilots To The Rescue was honored recently to once again play a vital role in a historic effort to maintain the only wild population of the critically endangered American Red Wolf in the world.
Over two days, four adult red wolves from three managed care facilities were flown to North Carolina where they were released in a protected refuge. The collaborative effort is a partnership between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Endangered Wolf Center, Wolf Conservation Center, and Wolf Haven International. This is the first release from managed care facilities since 1998.
Pilots To The Rescue Top Dog Pilot Michael Schneider met Wolf Conservation Center officials in New Jersey on the morning of April 28th. There, they boarded M2236 aka Deven (pictured above), who was born in New York and affectionately named by supporters of the Wolf Conservation Center. Deven was accompanied on the two-hour flight to North Carolina by Rebecca Bose, the Curator in charge of the well-being of all the Wolf Conservation Center’s Ambassador and Species Survival Plan wolves.
Releasing animals is a conservation strategy that takes individual wolves bred and born in managed care and places them in their native range. Because the wild population of American red wolves is dangerously low, it is vital to place individuals of breeding age on the landscape to assist in the repopulation of the most endangered wolf species in the world. The wolves were introduced to their new home through a “soft release” process. A habitat surrounded by temporary fencing was installed and animals were placed inside to acclimate and bond. When the time is right, the fencing will be opened, allowing the red wolves to confidently enter their new home in the Wild.
This is the 3rd endangered red wolf PTTR has rescued. This one is truly historic because M2236 aka “Deven”, born at the Wolf Conservation Center in 2018, will be released in the wild. Releases of this type require Federal court approval and only happen every few years.
The Red Wolf is the most endangered canid in the world, Before these wolves were released on April 30 and May 1 there were 10 known collared red wolves and an estimated 17-20 total red wolves in North Carolina.