The red wolf (Canis rufus) is one of the world’s most endangered wild canids. Once common throughout the southeastern United States, red wolf populations were decimated by the 1960s due to intensive predator control programs and loss of habitat. A remnant population of red wolves was found along the Gulf coast of Texas and Louisiana. After being declared an endangered species in 1973, efforts were initiated to locate and capture as many wild red wolves as possible. Of the 17 remaining wolves captured by biologists, 14 became the founders of a successful captive breeding program. Consequently, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)declared red wolves extinct in the wild in 1980.
By 1987, enough red wolves were bred in captivity to begin a restoration program to return the species to a portion of their traditional range in the southeast United States. For over two decades the USFWS has been restoring red wolves to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern North Carolina. And in 2004, the WCC joined the recovery effort via its acceptance into the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan and has played a critical role in preserving and protecting these imperiled species through carefully managed breeding and reintroduction. To date, the WCC has welcomed two red wolf litters (2010 and 2014) and a single red wolf from the WCC has been given the extraordinary opportunity to resume his rightful place on the wild landscape. As of the start of 2016, the WCC is home to 9 red wolves. Seven of our resident red wolves occupy one of the enclosures in the WCC's Endangered Species Facility. These enclosures are private and secluded, and the wolves are not on exhibit for the public. The WCC’s second red pack is on exhibit in the Red Wolf Exhibit which opened in October of 2009. For the first time ever visitors to the WCC are given the opportunity to see this rare an elusive species.
In September 2014, the USFWS announced that it would be conducting a review of the red wolf recovery program in eastern North Carolina, per request of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), to determine if USFWS should continue, modify, or terminate the program that manages the last remaining wild red wolves on our planet. Two years later o September 12, 2016, USFWS published it recommended decisions in response to the red wolf recovery program evaluation. The agency's new rule proposes to significantly change the size, scope and management of the current red wolf recovery program. The rule includes USFWS’s plan to pull the last wild red wolves from most of their range in North Carolina to put them in captivity. Ironically, the federal agency claimed its decision was "based on the best and latest scientific information" from the red wolf Population Viability Analysis (PVA). However, the team of scientists who drafted the PVA stated in an October letter that USFWS's recovery recomendations were based on “many alarming misinterpretations” of their scientific analysis. While the review/recomendation process continues, all captive-to-wild releases remain on hold. Also on hold is another key management activity—the release of sterilized coyotes to prevent hybridization. Today red wolves remain among the world’s most endangered species. The current estimate puts the only wild population of red wolves at their lowest level (45) since the late 1990s.
» Read the history of the Red Wolf
» Learn about the ongoing Review and Evaluation of the Red Wolf Recovery Program
» What is the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (RWSSP)?
» View Red Wolf Species Survival Plan Population Analysis and Breeding and Transfer Recommendations.
» Red Wolf Online Resources and Research.
M1803, or “Moose” as he was named by Wolf Conservation Center staff, was born at the WCC in May 2010 along with his brother M1804 (“Thicket”). Once they were old enough, Thicket moved to St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge off the coast of Florida and Moose moved to the Beardsley Zoo in Connecticut! While at the zoo, Moose met and fell in love with F1563 (“Salty”) and they had three pups in 2014. The new family needed more space to grow so they came to the WCC in December 2014 and it’s a good thing they did because Salty gave birth to 7 pups in May 2015! Unfortunately two pups passed away but the family is doing very well and the five pups are healthy and rambunctious. Check out our YouTube videos and webcams to see the pups’ antics!
Early one morning in May of 2010, red wolf F1397 quietly gave birth to two beautiful boys, M1803 and M1804 (a.k.a. “Moose” and “Thicket”). Thanks to our webcams, a global audience enjoyed watching the elusive boys grow up and then joined our celebratory howls when both wolves were chosen to embark on new adventures beyond the WCC’s boundaries. Red wolf M1804 received the “call of the wild,” and was released on an island off the Florida peninsula. M1803’s adventure kept him closer to home, he was transferred to Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo where he struck a love connection and fathered three kiddos of his own – M2075, F2074, and F2073! Because the expanded family outgrew their accommodations at the Zoo, with open arms the WCC welcomed M1803 back and with his new family in tow. On May 2, 2015, M2075 became a big brother and today the multigenerational family of nine unknowingly educate a global audience of webcam watchers about the importance and plight of their rare species.
m2116 was born on May 2, 2015 at the Wolf Conservation Center to parents M1803 and F1563. Life looks bright for this young wolf and hopefully one day he will be able to live in the wild like his ancestors!
m2117 was born on May 2, 2015 at the Wolf Conservation Center to parents M1803 and F1563. Life looks bright for this young wolf and hopefully one day he will be able to live in the wild like his ancestors!
m2118 was born on May 2, 2015 at the Wolf Conservation Center to parents M1803 and F1563. Life looks bright for this young wolf and hopefully one day he will be able to live in the wild like his ancestors!
m2119 was born on May 2, 2015 at the Wolf Conservation Center to parents M1803 and F1563. Life looks bright for this young wolf and hopefully one day he will be able to live in the wild like his ancestors!
f2121 has the special honor of being the only female red wolf pup at the Wolf Conservation Center. “Charlotte,” as WCC staff and webcam viewers call f2121, was born on May 2, 2015 to parents M1803 and F1563. Life looks bright for this young wolf and hopefully one day she will be able to live in the wild like her ancestors!
F1568 (“Argo”) arrived at the Wolf Conservation Center from the Mill Mountain Zoo in Roanoke, VA in November of 2016. She lives on exhibit with red wolf M1803 (“Moose”) and they will be given the opportunity to breed during the 2016-2017 mating season. F1568, born on April 3, 2007, is the third red wolf from her litter to call the WCC home. Her brothers, M1565 and M1566, have since opened new chapters to their lives at other facilities participating in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan. Although we miss these boys, the WCC family is head over heels over their darling sister.