The red wolf, which is native to the southeastern United States, has been listed as an endangered species since 1967. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has been undertaking a captive breeding program since the 1970s, and there is currently a wild population in North Carolina. However, these wolves have not had any pups in the last four years. This year, everything changed. The Red World Recovery Program reported the birth of six wild red wolf pups on Facebook.
The four females and two males born in April provide new hope to this wild population, which was originally anticipated to number up to 120 wolves in 2012 but is now expected to number just around 20 in 2021. The photos show the puppies stacked together while staff workers gently examined them to determine their overall health and microchip them so they can be tracked in the future. Mom, according to the post, was nearby when they came and moved aside to allow them to view the den. The visit was arranged to coincide with the father’s hunting trip.
Historically, red wolves inhabited a huge portion of the United States, spanning from southern New York to the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, due to habitat degradation, stringent predator-control practices, and interbreeding with coyotes, they were practically extinct by the mid-1900s. There were just 17 red wolves in the wild when the Endangered Species Act was created in 1973. 14 of these wolves were utilized to begin a captive breeding program. The red wolf has been declared extinct in the wild by 1980.
The captive breeding effort, on the other hand, was a success, and in 1987, an area of North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge was established as a location to release some of the captive population back into the wild. While the captive population was 241 as of 2021, the wild population has declined. With many wolves being killed by automobiles or private landowners when they venture too far out, breeding is critical to maintaining the population. So, after four years with no new pups, these six fresh arrivals offer hope for a new generation in the wild.
Red wolves are native to the southeastern United States and have been threatened with extinction since 1967.
A captive breeding effort has kept the population alive since the 1970s.
There is also a tiny natural population, and six red wolf pups were just born. This is the first litter of wild puppies in four years.
Before returning the puppies to their mother, USFWS personnel swiftly check on their health and microchip them for protection.