Rare Red Wolves Feeling Frisky and Feisty

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Rare Red Wolves Feeling Frisky and Feisty
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This red wolf family represents the Wolf Conservation Center’s participation in the active effort to save a species this from extinction.

The red wolf is one of the world’s most endangered wild canids. Once common throughout the southeastern United States, red wolf populations were decimated by the 1960s due to intensive predator control programs and loss of habitat. A remnant population of red wolves was found along the Gulf coast of Texas and Louisiana. After being declared an endangered species in 1973, efforts were initiated to locate and capture as many wild red wolves as possible. Of the 17 remaining wolves captured by biologists, 14 became the founders of a successful captive breeding program. Consequently, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service declared red wolves extinct in the wild in 1980.

By 1987, enough red wolves were bred in captivity to begin a restoration program on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern North Carolina.

The wild population peaked at an estimated 130 wolves in 2006 and remained above 100 for several years. Data shows 15 or more wolves have died in each of the past 3 years from a variety of reasons including gunshot. It’s generally illegal to kill endangered animals. Unfortunately, in 2014 when USFWS halted all key management activity including captive-to-wild releases, the wild red wolf population plummeted to its lowest level in decades. As of July 2020, only 9 red wolves are known to remain in the wild today – the lowest level since the recovery project’s start.

The Wolf Conservation Center (WCC), is a 501c3 non-profit organization in South Salem, NY.

The WCC is one of a network of facilities participating in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan – a national initiative whose primary purpose is to support the reestablishment of red wolves in the wild through captive breeding, public education, and research.

For more information about wolves and the WCC’s participation in wolf recovery, please visit our website at www.nywolf.org.
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