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Red Wolf Canis rufus


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Red Wolf
credit: Tim Ross

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Family: Canidae, Dogs view all from this family

Description A medium-sized wolf with gray coat, sprinkled with blackish hairs; occasionally yellowish or reddish hairs, primarily on legs and lowerparts. Nose pad more than 1" (25 mm) wide.

Dimensions Height 35-45 cm; Length 140-165 cm; Wt 18-36 kg

Endangered Status The Red Wolf is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in North Carolina and Tennessee. By 1980, the Red Wolf had been completely eliminated from its natural range. Persecution by humans, the destruction of habitat, and interbreeding with Coyotes and domestic dogs contributed to its downfall. In the early 1970s, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service trapped a number of Red Wolves from the wild and initiated a breeding program, thereby preventing the animalís extinction. The wolf was introduced on islands to allow natural matings to occur, producing wolves for introductions elsewhere. The first several pairs of Red Wolves were introduced at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina in 1987; by 1992 a total of 36 wolves had been introduced there. In the spring of 1992, at least 19 wolves were present in the refuge, including six of the original 36; the rest were pups from at least seven litters that had been produced in the wild by that time. In 1991 Red Wolves were released in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. The number of Red Wolves in existence is constantly changing, but recent counts indicate that there are at least 250 animals, most of which are in captive breeding facilities in the United States. There are perhaps 25 to 5O Red Wolves in the wild at Alligator River and perhaps 10 to 20 in the Great Smokies. Several other wolves live in the wild in a few other locations.

Similar Species Larger then coyote, small than Gray Wolf

Habitat Forests & woodlands, Scrub, shrub & brushlands, Swamps, marshes & bogs, Grasslands & prairies

Range Southeast, Florida

Discussion The red wolf became extinct in the wild by 1980. 1987 saw a reintroduction in northeastern North Carolina through a captive breeding program and the animals are considered to be successfully breeding in the wild.