The Red Wolf: an Endangered Species

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The Red Wolf: An Endangered Species

The Red Wolf (Canis rufus) is an animal currently listed as endangered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). As with many of the endangered species of the world, this species once inhabited an area much larger than it currently exists in. The USFWS as well as the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) are currently working to secure a future for the Red Wolf.

Historically, the Red Wolf, numbering in the thousands, roamed a vast area ranging from south central Texas to Florida and northward as far as the Ohio River. There are, however, those who maintain that the species existed as far north as Pennsylvania and others believing this area included Maine (USFWS, 2007). Regardless of how large their domain was the Red Wolf eventually became extinct in the wild. Those left numbered only in the few hundreds and lived in captivity. Not until 1987 did the Red Wolf return to the wild where they today only number just over 100, and these only exist in a very small area of eastern North Carolina. Organizations such as the USFWS and NCWRC continue to monitor the Red Wolf population. They have solicited help from local citizens who inform these groups of interactions with the species. Installing passageways, both under and over existing roadways, has increased access to habitat that limits the species mortality. Examples such as these help to insure an increase of the Red Wolf population.

Many factors contributed to the Red Wolf’s population decline, as they do with other species labeled as Endangered. The largest element leading to this decline was encroachment of humans. This was primarily through habitat destruction and predator control programs. Numbers also declined through hybridization with coyotes (NCWRC). The limited Red Wolf population has the potential to allow for…...

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