Red Wolves: A Species on the Brink of Extinction in the Wild

Once one of the few apex predators to roam the U.S. Southeast, wild red wolves are now close to extinction. A smaller, reddish-colored version of their cousin, the gray wolf, red wolves are a social species that inhabit the forests, swamps, and other East Coast warm weather habitats. If current conservation efforts are sidelined by a new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule, future generations of Americans will never see the red wolf in the wild.

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Without federal intervention, red wolves would have already been relegated to the history books. But through captive breeding programs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was able to re-introduce the species to the wild by releasing breeding pairs.

While captive breeding is a critical tool in recovering endangered species in the United States, it is not a permanent solution. The end goal is to foster self-sustaining wild populations of red wolves to their historic range.

It’s Up to Us to Turn the Tide for the Red Wolf

Since their reintroduction in the 1980’s, red wolves have had a rocky road to recovery. While initial steps to recovery were successful, opposition to and changes in federal management efforts have caused the species to shrink to less than 40 individuals in the wild. Habitat loss, vehicle collision, poaching, and interbreeding with coyotes are constant threats to these remaining red wolves.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must not scale back red wolf recovery efforts by focusing on captive breeding as a solution. It is not enough. We cannot allow another species to go extinct. We have a responsibility to protect wild populations of red wolves for future generations.

Call on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to stand by their past decisions to protect the red wolf. Halting recovery efforts now would spell disaster for this endangered species.

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Robust efforts to release red wolves into the wild will result in a real chance for recovery. Photo by R. Nordsven/ USFWS.

It is not the American way to give up on endangered species. We cannot turn our back on a native species and allow them to go extinct in the wild. Agency experts, private landowners, and state officials must come together to overcome the many obstacles to red wolf recovery. By working together, it is possible to halt decline and recover the red wolf in the wild.

We must implement science based management actions to establish, maintain, and grow wild populations. Anything short of this is a failure, is not in line with the principles outlined by the Endangered Species Act and is an affront to the American conservation ethic.

Please help us save the red wolf: Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reevaluate their proposed rule. We cannot give up on this unique species.