The Red Wolf is a wolf subspecies that was native to the south eastern states becoming extinct by the 1980’s. A hybrid cross of Red Wolf and Coyote was successfully re-introduced to the eastern area of North Carolina. It is still considered to be endangered with its population growth to around 100 animals now. It is a beautiful glacial period survivor with a cinnamon or reddish brown coat that at one time ranged from Texas to Florida, then north up to New York. In size, it lies midway between the size of a coyote and a Gray Wolf. It seems to be more resilient against heartworms than other wolf breeds which help it considerably in the southern climates where heartworm egg laying mosquitoes thrive.
It is mostly a nocturnal hunter, hunting mostly by night, early dawn or late dusk hours. In North Carolina they feed mostly upon white tailed deer, rabbit and raccoons where they tend to feed alone. Other areas have also been participating in captive breeding programs and reintroducing this rare yet wonderful wolf species into the wild such as Texas and Florida.
They are a rare and beautiful sight to see and it is possible to see some of these wonderful wild canines in captivity. Dan Nicholas Park in North Carolina has a small habitat with a few Red Wolfs on display as well as Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and the Asheboro Zoo. Many areas are working on a Red Wolf Recovery Project trying to increase this animal’s numbers by captive breeding programs and reintroduction into the wild. Many of those involved with theRed Wolf Recovery Project are also viewing facilities making possible for the public to see these endangered canines and learn more about them.
Of course not everyone is happy about the Red Wolf making a comeback where people are fearful of wolves and farmers have concerns about their livestock. After all one of the reasons they declined so much in the wild was due to the hunting of wolves because they preyed on cattle. However the future of this beautiful wild canine is not only at risk from hunting but loss of habitat and that they commonly breed with coyotes. Breeding with coyotes could lead to such hybridization that the Red Wolf does indeed become extinct. There habitat where they need up to 100 square miles has been being logged out for agriculture and the areas becoming more populated leading to the forests being cleared as well. With loss of habitat, cross breeding with coyotes and hunting it will be difficult at best to increase the numbers into the wild and have them thrive.