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 10 red wolves. Eight 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. While USFWS continues to review the program (a decision is expected in summer of 2016), it has halted all captive-to-wild releases. Also remaining on hold is a key management activity—the release of sterilized coyotes to prevent hybridization.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 (50 – 75) 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.
M1566 arrived at the Wolf Conservation Center in December 2014 when he was 7 years old and he’s lived here ever since. He currently resides with his mate F1397.
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!