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Red wolves are the most endangered canines on the planet.

Once spread across the U.S. Southeast, red wolves were hunted nearly to extinction. In 1980, the species was declared extinct in the wild, and remaining red wolves were placed in a captive breeding program.
In 1987, a red wolf reintroduction program was launched in North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge with eight captive-bred red wolves released into the wild. It became one of the world’s most innovative and successful efforts to restore a critically endangered carnivore species, and by 2012, the red wolves’ population had reached 120. 
Unfortunately, in the past decade, their population plummeted to as few as seven. Gunshot mortality, vehicle collisions, and mismanagement were primary causes.. However, a deluge of public comments and successful litigation have reinvigorated the Red Wolf Recovery Program. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a Red Wolf Recovery Plan that will significantly increase the number of red wolves in the wild to at least 740, and it will create two more reintroduction sites to help red wolves recover.

Critically Endangered

Red wolves are the most endangered canines on the planet. Recently, their population dropped to as few as seven in the wild. Red wolves are also bred in captivity at zoos across the country and released into their only current reintroduction site in northeastern North Carolina. Gunshot and vehicle strikes are the leading causes of mortality.

Mate for Life

Red wolf breeding pairs are monogamous and mated pairs usually remain together for life. They form family packs of 5-8 individuals. Red wolves reach sexual maturity at three years and mate from January to early March. Gestation lasts for 60 days, and females give birth to two to six pups on average.

Reddish Hue

Red wolves are slightly smaller and thinner than gray wolves, and their fur often has a rusty reddish hue. Gray wolves usually have thick gray fur. Gray wolves can weigh up to 175 pounds and reach six feet in length. Adult red wolves weigh 50-80 pounds and are up to four feet long. Genetic and morphological evidence has consistently supported recognition of the red wolf as a distinct species.

Coyote Comparison

Red wolves are larger and heavier than coyotes and can be distinguished by their longer legs, larger skulls, and more rounded eyes. Coyotes tend to have pointier muzzles. Coyotes filled the niche left by red wolves when they were hunted nearly to extinction.

Diet and Habitat

Red wolves most often hunt small mammals such as rabbits and raccoons. They travel up to 20 miles each day within their territories to find prey. They are habitat generalists who currently occupy the swamps, forests, and wetlands of northeastern North Carolina.

All-American wolf

A uniquely All-American wolf species, red wolves once roamed across the Southeastern and Midwestern United States from Texas to Pennsylvania. Today, only one small population of red wolves remains in northeastern North Carolina. It has lost 99.7% of its range—more than any other carnivore in the world.