Red Wolf

Red Wolf X512

The Red Wolf is among the rarest of Endangered Species in the world.  A five-county area in eastern North Carolina is home to the only wild population of red wolves in the world.  To learn more, visit the Red Wolf Recovery Program.


Red Wolf

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is the focus of a recovery effort to reintroduce the endangered red wolf into the wild. In 1973, red wolves were declared an endangered species. Efforts were initiated to locate and capture the remaining wild wolves found in the Louisiana and Texas coast area. 

Of the 17 remaining wolves captured by biologists, 14 became the founders of a successful captive breeding program. The founding red wolves had to be a pure bred species, meaning not a mixed breed of wolf and coyote. 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. 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 1.7 million acres. In 2013, there were 34 pups born among 7 litters in the wild population, and 1 pup was introduced into the litter of a wild as a foster pup. In the captive population, there were 5 pups born within 1 litter. 

Approximately 100 red wolves roam their native habitats in five northeastern North Carolina counties. Interbreeding with the coyote (an exotic species not native to North Carolina) has been recognized as the most significant and detrimental threat affecting restoration of red wolves in this section of their historical home range. Currently, adaptive management efforts are making good progress in reducing the threat of coyotes while building the wild red wolf population in northeastern North Carolina.