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Finding Black Beauty in the Search for Red Wolf Ancestry

Black Beauty

Only twelve wild red wolves are known to exist today, but the Gulf Coast Canine Project brings new hope for the species by discovering canids along the gulf coast that carry red wolf genetics, including unique alleles left from a ghost population of red wolves that are not found in today’s red wolves.

If these canid populations are reservoirs of lost red wolf genetic ancestry, can they be used to bolster today’s small and vulnerable red wolf population? Red wolf researchers, Drs. Kristin E. Brzeski, Bridgett M. vonHoldt, and the Wolf Conservation Center’s own Dr. Joseph W. Hinton are working to find out. Here’s a short behind-the-scenes video of the Gulf Coast Canine Project team processing a stunning southwest coastal Louisiana canid. The yearling male blends perfectly into the coastal prairie and marsh with his beautiful black and red sable color/pelage pattern. Enjoy!

The Wolf Conservation Center hosted the Gulf Coast Canine Project team for an informative webinar, “Searching for Red Wolf Ghosts,” earlier this year. They discussed their groundbreaking work and offered a summary of their current research activities and preliminary findings illustrating how these canid populations harbor lost red wolf genetic ancestry and how that ancestry may influence their unique morphology and behaviors. Watch below!