Historically, red wolves occurred throughout the eastern and south-central United States. By the 1970s, habitat loss and predator control programs reduced these populations to a small area along the Gulf coasts of Texas and Louisiana. These wolves were captured and bred in captivity, and are the ancestors of all red wolves in existence today. In 1987, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) began reintroduction efforts in northeastern North Carolina to re-establish a wild population.
Currently, the wild red wolf population in the northeastern North Carolina recovery area is estimated between 100 and 120 animals, many of which are outfitted with radio-telemetry collars that allow managers to track individuals across a five-county area covering 1.7 million acres. Additionally, approximately 175 red wolves are held in about 40 captive breeding facilities across the United States. The red wolf is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
In November, 2014 the Wildlife Management Institute has released its report, A Comprehensive Review and Evaluation of the Red Wolf (Canis rufus) Recovery Program. This report examines the history and current status of the red wolf recovery program in northeastern North Carolina. It calls for extensive changes to rescue the federal government’s struggling, unpopular Red Wolf Recovery Program in five Eastern North Carolina counties. In summary, it says the red wolf effort in North Carolina should expand to other states, as well.
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“It is that range of biodiversity that we must care for -- the whole thing -- rather than just one or two stars.”
- David Attenborough