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Two Wild Red Wolves Found Dead in North Carolina, Reducing Population to 9 Known Wolves

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that two wild-born red wolves were found dead in July; necropsy results are pending. There are currently only nine red wolves known to remain in the wild.

On July 6, USFWS biologists detected a mortality signal from a GPS collar belonging to red wolf male 2186; a search crew located his body on private lands north of Lake Mattamuskeet on the Alblemarle Peninsula in North Carolina. The next day, USFWS received information regarding a dead collared red wolf along the side of a road – the wolf was determined to be male 2044. Evidence suggests that he was killed by a vehicle.

These two deaths of wild-born red wolves follow the deaths of three captive-born red wolves released into the wild earlier this spring in an effort to bolster the dwindling wild population. The three captive-born wolves, Deven (M2236), F2310, and F2216, were presumably also killed by vehicle strikes, highlighting a significant threat to red wolf recovery.

Four captive-born red wolf pups were cross-fostered into the den of a wild red wolf mother but they won’t contribute to the overall population count until they reach one year of age.


Red wolves (Canis rufus) are protected as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act and are classified as “critically endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List. As of July 2021, there are currently 9 known to remain in the wild in North Carolina.

Data sourced from Hinton et al, 2016Red Wolf Species Status Assessment 2018USFWS