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. At of theclose of 2017, the WCC is home to 12 red wolves, most of whom reside in the WCC's Endangered Species Facility. These enclosures are private and secluded, and the wolves are not on exhibit for the public.
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.
Early one morning in May of 2014, red wolf F1563 (Salty) quietly gave birth to three beautiful pups; F2073, F2074, and M2075 at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo. The family, which also included red wolf M1803 (Moose), soon moved to the Wolf Conservation Center and quickly became a popular sight on our webcams. A global audience enjoyed watching M2075 and his sisters mature and develop unique personalities, but no greater excitement was felt than when F1563 gave birth to a litter of five pups in 2015. M2075 was quickly thrown into the role of older brother, a position he hadn’t practiced for but nevertheless succeeded in. Years have since passed and the family has gone their separate ways, but M2075 has settled quite comfortably into the role of alpha male, once held by his father, in his band of bachelor brothers. The benevolent leader is compassionate yet firm – a true alpha.
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 (Moose) and F1563 (Salty). The pint-sized pup instantly stole the hearts of WCC supporters as he was noticeably smaller than his siblings but what he lacked in size, he made up for in steadfast loyalty to his family. Regardless of his siblings’ antics, M2117 (affectionately referred to by fans as “Peanut” in a nod to his pup days) is a shining example of what it means to be a “family wolf.” While it may seem as though he’s the most subordinate in rank amongst his brothers, M2117 is the quiet strength that binds together this endangered family. Like his band of bachelor brothers, M2117 will have to wait at least another year to potentially breed but we’re grateful to “keep” him for now!
M2118 was born on May 2, 2015 at the Wolf Conservation Center to parents M1803 (Moose) and F1563 (Salty). The rambunctious pup quickly distinguished himself from his siblings through his unique sense of humor. With four littermates and three older siblings, someone needed to break the frequent tension!
Although M2118’s family-centric enclosure has now shifted to that of a bachelor pad (he resides with his brothers), he’s retained his fun-loving personality. Webcam watchers often glimpse the playful wolf coaxing his siblings into a quick wrestling match or romp about the enclosure. While M2118 hasn’t yet been slated to breed, he seems quite content in his role as the self-appointed jokester. Every family needs one!
M2119 was born on May 2, 2015 at the Wolf Conservation Center to parents M1803 (Moose) and F1563 (Salty). As is often the case with wolf pup litters, hierarchy is established at an early age and this litter was no exception. M2119 quickly positioned himself as the dominant one amongst his littermates and this dominant behavior has only increased as he’s grown. Rather than shy away from unknown sights and sounds, as his siblings do, M2119 often approaches unfamiliar things in a curious yet cautious manner. This unique personality trait, coupled with his innate dominance, as firmly cemented his position as one of the leaders in his family group.
F2121 was born on May 2, 2015 at the Wolf Conservation Center to parents M1803 (Moose) and F1563 (Salty). The only female in a litter of five pups, F2121 (affectionately nicknamed “Charlotte”) distinguished herself from her brothers through her shy nature; visitors rarely saw her during on-site programs but webcam watchers grew to love her quiet demeanor. Although she no longer resides with her brothers, her quiet nature has matured into a graceful, calm spirit that often serves as a soothing counterbalance to her mate, M1606 (Jack). The dynamic duo personifies the adage “opposites attract”, as Charlotte can often be found observing a situation from a safe distance, whereas Jack is quick to investigate the slightest disturbance. We’re hopeful the union between these two will culminate with pups this spring – paws crossed!
Family is of the utmost importance to wolves, something red wolf M1784 certainly fees quite strongly about. The seven year old recently transferred to the WCC from the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, N.C., where he and his family made national headlines due to some…adventures…this past summer. M1784’s mate, F1858, gave birth to a litter of four pups in the spring of 2017 and M1784 immediately embraced his new role as father. Keepers observed M1784 constantly bringing food to F1858 and the pups – he even brought the pups a rat when they were three weeks old! Be still, our beating hearts!
However, M1784 officially clinched the “Father of the Year” award when he stayed cool and calm under the pressure of having all four of his pups escape their enclosure at the zoo. Rather than panic, as many fathers would do in his situation, M1784 actually regurgitated food and fed it to the pups through the fence!
The adventurous family was transferred to the WCC in the fall of 2017 because, due to the genetic value of M1784 and F1858’s offspring, the pair is slated to breed again this year and should reside in an enclosure that can accommodate their growing family. Keep your eyes fixed on their webcam – they’re proven breeders, so we’re hoping for some pups this spring!
The word “superhero” comes to mind when one thinks of F1858. A new resident of the WCC, along with her mate and pups, the female has proven herself to be a fearless leader and has quickly adjusted to life in the Northeast. F1858 is considered to be one of the most genetically valuable wolves in the red wolf recovery program, so the birth of her four pups in spring 2017 was met with joyous exclamations from all who value red wolf recovery. The family journeyed to the WCC in the fall of 2017 from their home at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, N.C. , where they made national headlines last summer when the four pups escaped from their enclosure at the zoo (and were safely captured, of course)! What a way to welcome F1858 to the lifelong role of being a mother!
Although the family resides off-exhibit at the WCC, webcam watchers love watching F1858 go about her day; the feisty female is a voracious eater and is quick to offer support and love to her family when needed. A superhero, indeed.
M1606, one of the WCC’s newest red wolves, made quite the entrance when he arrived in December 2017. The spunky red wolf, referred to as “Jack”, flew from his former home at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sandy Ridge facility in North Carolina on a private plane! Talk about the celebrity treatment! Thanks to Pilots to the Rescue and their volunteer pilots, Jack was able to bypass long airport lines and enjoy a comfortable flight on his way to his new home. He resides in the WCC’s on-exhibit red wolf enclosure with F2121 and although he’s shy around people, he can be quite the spitfire when he thinks no one’s watching! Make sure to watch our webcams to catch a glimpse of Jack’s antics, and maybe some pups in the spring!