Red Wolf

In the spirit of Game of Thrones returning, today’s endangered animal is the red wolf. The most well known wolf species is lupus or the gray wolf but the red wolf belongs to species rufus. Gray wolves are found throughout North America and Euraisia. They are not always gray in color. For example the Arctic gray wolf can be gray or white. Red wolves are endemic to to a small area of coastal North Carolina. You will not see a red wolf anywhere else in the world (legally).

Red wolves are mostly nocturnal. They are about 26 inches (.66 meters) tall. They weigh about 50-80 pounds (22-36 kilograms) and are about 4.5 to 5.5 (136–160 cm) feet long including their tail. Red wolves are monogamous creatures. A pair, once mated, is forever. Breeding season occurs in January or February and the female will bear 5-7 pups in April, May or June. The dens are usually hollowed tree trunks, along stream banks, or other abandoned animal’s homes.

These wolves are very solitary creatures. They usually hunt alone or in a very small group. Their diet is definitely carnivorous. They primarily eat rabbits, rodents and nutria which are like a sub species of a beaver. As their population increases, they’ve expanded their diet to include white tailed deer and raccoons.

The red wolf is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN list. There are about 250 red wolves left in existence with approximately 207 of them in captivity and 45 or so in the wild. There is only one killer of this species; humans. Looking at Cherokee mythology, the red wolf was known as wa’ya — the companion to Kanati, the hunter. Cherokee did not kill red wolves because they did not want to experience the wrath of the dead wolf’s pack mate. Clearly, Europeans did not abide by these sentiments and killed every wolf they saw. Between 1973 and 1980, four hundred candids were captured because the US Fish and Wildlife wanted to save the red wolf from extinction. Out of the 400, only 17 were pure red wolves. The remaining were coyotes or a hybrid species of wolf and coyote.

Today the fight continues. Even though there are laws in place protecting red wolves, they are still being shot by humans for one reason or another. Hopefully the wild population can recover.

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29 thoughts on “Red Wolf

    1. Yes, they are! Very social too. It’s sad that people want to kill them but maybe shows like GoT will help change people’s opinions about how cool wolves are.

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    1. Oh boy! Coyotes are pretty harmless as long as you don’t bother them just keep your dog inside at night! What kind of dog do you have?

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  1. Great post! The red wolf is such a beautiful animal and so tragic how it was hunted. Living here in NC, they do a lot of local projects to help get the public aware of the red wolf recovery efforts. One of the biggest issues now is the coyote population. They’re having to sterilize coyotes in the red wolf territory to avoid interbreeding and loss of the red wolf gene. It’s some interesting to follow since they’re only native to here, and one of my favorite animals!

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    1. Oh that’s awesome to know! Thank you for sharing that bit. I know it must be hard since coyotes look so similar to the wolves. They don’t know the difference when it comes to mating.

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      1. You’re welcome! I love this stuff!! Apparently it also has something to do with the red wolf population being so small versus the much larger coyote population so it was basically a territorial issue. One of the biology teachers I work with is really involved with the NC Fish and wildlife service’s recovery efforts for the red wolf and can tell you everything about them! It’s really awesome the things they are doing.

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