Red Wolf

Endangered Species

The Red Wolf / Canis rufus

Region It's Found In

The last red wolves were found in coastal prairie and marsh habitat because this was the last area in which the animals were allowed to remain. Any habitat area in the southeastern United States of sufficient size, which provides adequate food, water, and the basic cover requirement of heavy vegetation, should be suitable habitat for the red wolf. Telemetry studies indicate that red wolf home range requirements vary from about 25 to 50 square miles.

Why It's Endangered

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. Threats to the red wolf include habitat loss due to human development, negative attitudes that hinder restoration, severe weather, deaths by motor vehicles, and illegal killings. Interbreeding between coyote and red wolf populations has remained a constant threat to the recovery of this imperiled species.

What Is Being Done To Protect Them

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. Since then, the experimental population area has expanded to include three national wildlife refuges, a Department of Defense bombing range, state-owned lands, and private property, spanning a total of 1.5 million acres.