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red wolf breeding using dna testing

Endangered Red Wolf DNA Found in Texas Stray Dogs

DNA testing helps people from different places to trace their family lineages. There are different types of DNA tests, and they rely on large databases consisting of details of other people. Ancestry DNA is ideal for people who want to find family matches.

The other notable aspect is that Ancestry DNA is also ideal for adopted people who can use it to find their biological parents. People can also trace the origins of their ancestors using available data to breakdown the regions to find perfect matches.

Likewise, canine DNA also resembles ancestry DNA in various respects. It can go a long way in helping to restore some elements of species facing extinction. The case of America’s Red Wolf illustrates how DNA can help resolve some of the issues related to recovering endangered species.

The Case Of Endangered Red Wolf

The red wolf, America’s native wild canine has been facing extinction for many decades. There are only about 40 red wolves currently living in the wild in North Carolina. There is a captive breeding program of such wolves that began in around the 1970s and ended recently. However, all the efforts could not help the situation though.

The good news though is that there is a population of wild dogs off the Texas coast with red wolf DNA genes. According to the researchers at Princeton University, the wild dogs have DNA components of the endangered red wolves.

In other words, the endangered species will not be completely wiped out without any trace. Researchers can use the remnants of red wolf DNA in the wild dogs to breed different species that will help preserve the DNA of the red wolf.

The Canine Ancestry DNA At the Princeton University

The discovery of red wolves genes in wild dogs by Princeton University follows another study by Ron Wooten. Wooten is a wildlife biologist who lives in Galveston, Texas. He started his investigation by tracking some wild dogs around the nearby Galveston Island.

The Galveston wild dogs did not look like native animals in the area. Some people also claimed to have seen the red wolves around the Gulf Coast some decades before. The red wolves were declared extinct in the US in 1980, so Wooten sought a second opinion.

Following his interest in the population of Galveston wild dogs, Wooten contacted Bridgett vonHoldt. Bridgett is an evolutionary biologist and ecologist who runs Princeton University’s North American Canine Ancestry Project. She significantly contributed to tracing the wild dogs DNA ancestry in red wolves.

After testing the DNA samples provided by Wooten, Bridget then compared them to DNA samples of various dog species in the US. These species included captive red wolves, coyotes as well as grey wolves. The results indicated that Galveston dogs have some DNA genes that are only known to belong to the red wolves.

Just like in the case of human beings, the concept of DNA can also apply to animals concerning tracking their ancestry. The red wolf DNA genes in the Galveston dogs help to solve a puzzle about the ancestry of the red wolf.

Significance Of The Study

The Galveston wild dogs are different from pure red wolves. However, careful breeding efforts can help restore the lost aspects of the endangered red wolf species. Breeding can also assist in the restoration of genetic history while at the same time keeping them healthy.

Breeding has its challenges hence the need for breeders to understand the risk of severe hereditary problems. The other aspect is that Texas can also be the right location for reintroducing the red wolves. The main reason for this assertion is that the population of Galveston wild dogs survived for an extended period on the Gulf Coast Island.

The Galveston dogs are vital to the continued survival as well as the diversity of the red wolf. Several wild dogs were captured around the 1970s to start the breeding program. Many people thought they were part of the living red wolves in the Gulf Coast area.

Only 40 genetically identified red wolves were living when the effort ended. Out of the red wolves that survived, only 14 wolves went on to reproduce thereby representing the lineage of wild dogs. The lineage includes the red wolves that are in captivity together win those reintroduced into the wild.

The attempt to bring back extinct species through the reintroduction of red wolves was a success at first. Over 100 wild red wolves were estimated to be living in North Carolina in 2006. Unfortunately, the numbers were decimated due to hunting and human encroachment as well as resistance by the state agencies to continue the program.

Benefits Of Ancestry DNA

The discovery of red wolf genetic genes presents new ways for innovative conservation efforts. The efforts will include the reintroduction of red wolf species to the captive and experimental populations. The good news is that the success of the initiative will reduce fears of extinction of the red wolf species.

The other notable aspect is that the Galveston dogs share more than genes with the red wolf population in captivity. They also have some genes that are not in any wild dog population. They have genetic variations commonly seen in red wolves.

Different populations of wild canines that are classified as species can interbreed with each other and produce fertile hybrids.  Other animals cannot do the same. For example, the red wolves and the coyotes can interbreed though the species prefer their own “kind.”

However, the interbreeding between species is contributing to the decline of the wolf as a unique species. The Galveston dogs can represent a reserve for the lost ancestry of the red wolf. DNA testing can play a pivotal role in the restoration of the lineage of other endangered species.

There may also be other cases of red wolf DNA in different samples. For instance, two samples obtained from coyotes in the Louisiana Gulf Coast have red wolf DNA. In other words, the DNA method can help restore some of the endangered species facing extinction.

About the Author Charles McKnight

I'm just another amateur genealogist investigating my American-Scots-Irish lineage. I built MyFamilyDNATest.com after buying all of the leading DNA tests to discover everything I could about my family history. Hopefully, this site will save you time and demystify the emerging science of DNA-based genealogy, for your family project.

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