Red Wolf

Aggressive predator control programs, hunting and agriculturalization have combined to bring the red wolf near to extinction, because it was thought to be a threat to livestock. It is now considered rare.

It is thought that its original distribution included much of eastern North America, where Red Wolves were found from New York in the east, Florida in the south, and Texas in the south-west. Records of bounty payments to Wappinger Indians in New York in the middle 1700s confirm its range at least that far north; it's possible that it could have extended as far as extreme eastern Canada. There are thought to be about 300 red wolves remaining in the world, with 207 of those in captivity. For decades, the Red Wolf has been indistinguishable genetically from either the Gray Wolf or the Coyote. The Red Wolf breeds with both species and may again be in peril as contact with other species in the wild resumes.

In 1987 approximately 100 were reintroduced into the wild as the first island propagation project in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge off the coast of North Carolina. In 1989 the second island propagation project initiated with release of a population on Horn Island off the Mississippi coast. This population was moved in 1998 because of a likelihood of encounters with humans. The third island propagation project introduced a population on St. Vincent Island, Florida offshore between Cape San Blas and Apalachicola, Florida in 1990, and in 1997 the fourth island propagation program introduced a population to Cape St. George Island, Florida south of Apalachicola, Florida. In 1991 two pairs were reintroduced into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where the last known wolf was killed in 1905. Despite some early success, the wolves were relocated to North Carolina in 1998, ending the effort to reintroduce the species to the Park. Historical habitats included forests, swamps and coastal prairies, where it was an apex predator.


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