Red Wolf

This is a tough species for me to write about. I feel deep rooted attachment to this animal because I am from the South East and it makes me feel powerless to enact change if the very place I come from does not see eye to eye with me and seems to have no interest in opening their mind to alternative view points. 

I was at the Life and Science Museum, Durham NC, this past June and was able to see their breeding pair. This is the female trying to stay cool in the heat of a southern summer.


About Them: Red Wolves are a smaller wolf. There is a heated argument that they are a species born from Coyote and Gray Wolf breeding from long ago, but that is not clear.

Their plight: They are more or less extinct in the wild. By nature their territory crosses protected lands and private lands. They are predators so they will potentially cause damage to these private lands by consuming deer or potentially, livestock. The Red Wolves had been reintroduced into the wild after a multi-decade breeding program, but a few years ago because of out cry Fish and Wildlife Services allowed a ‘don’t know no fault’ clause. This meant if a wolf was shot on private land and the owner claimed they thought it was a Coyote they would not be held accountable. Since, that was allowed the wolf population is again almost gone. There is also the problem or natures way that Red Wolves breed with Coyotes. Once this happens they are no longer genetically Red Wolves.

What we should consider: Enough people must come together within the regions that were territory for this wolf to help these wolves become reestablished. Without the aid of locals there is no chance to bring this predator back. I believe this is why Fish and Wildlife and other organizers of the captive breeding program are choosing to recapture these wolves and keep them in captivity. The land for these wolves is presently not controlled by people interested in dealing with a predator.

These people aren’t necessarily wrong in their feelings either, it is really difficult to deal with an animal that scavenges and takes food from you. Most people that have land where these wolves have been introduced don’t necessarily have the means to handle the inconveniences a wolf would cause them. It’s also an uneven burden put on these people in that area. Additionally, federal and other government interventions on the American idle of freedom can come across poorly. Implementation of conservation laws have to be handled with care because you need everyone in contact with the plan to help.

What is being done: A captive breeding program exists and given a wild population is not presently viable the plan is to grow the population of captive wolves to 400 individuals.

How to help: Have conversations with people that don’t agree with you. Try to be kind and attempt to find a compromise. Bring awareness and educate others. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife, waterways and lands. Support locally.

Support can be:

  • donating to science groups
  • helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
  • being a citizen scientist through
    • land restoration project
    • trash clean ups
    • species counts
    • bio blitzes
  • getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.

Joining your local Audubon Society or other local conservation group is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

Further Reading, my sources:

[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]

The Life and Science Museum in Durham North Carolina