Red Wolves Are Close to Extinction... Again


| LAST UPDATE 12/06/2021

By Eliza Gray
red wolf endangered species
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When it comes to red wolves, it's been a roller coaster for animal conservationists. Their battle with endangerment dates back to the 1900s, and while the numbers were looking positive for a few decades, they've unfortunately fallen back into a dire situation.

It all started back in the 1900s when red wolves once roamed freely throughout a sprawling natural territory that ranged from Texas all the way to New England. However, unregulated hunting severely impacted the population's numbers, and by 1980 the species was labeled extinct. What was known as "America's wolf" seemed to be gone forever, but luckily a group of researchers stepped in to try and right the course.

red wolves conservation efforts
Gerry Broome/AP/Shutterstock

An experiment took place in North Carolina where eight red wolves living in captivity were released into the forests back in 1987. The last-ditch effort paid off with incredible results as the resilient pack of wolves grew into the hundreds. Was the threat of extinction eliminated? While conservationists hoped so, danger was looming in the distant future for the Canis rufus of North Carolina. Fish and Wildlife Service altered its poaching management regulations, increasing the hunting of these majestic creatures. And today, National Geographic reports that less than 20 wolves remain.

wildlife north carolina wolf
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Conservationists are looking for the silver lining in this bleak repeat of history. While it's devastated wildlife enthusiasts to see the red wolf return to the endangered list, there is solace in knowing that if they've rebounded once before, maybe they can do it again. Trial attempts to place captive pups with a wild wolf mother have been successful. However, other adult wolves released into the wild faced a gruesome death. And despite their once lenient stance, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service jumped in to advocate for the wolves' protected space after being accused of violating legislation meant to protect the species.

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endangered species united states
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Will this second round of efforts be enough, or will we soon be saying goodbye to this great wild creature for good? Be sure to check back soon for more news from the animal kingdom.