Red Wolf, wild member of the dog family, and one of only two species of wolves known in the world. The only other wolf species is the gray wolf. Native to the southeastern United States, the red wolf is virtually extinct in the wild, but captive breeding programs are helping to return these animals to their native habitat.
Red Wolf picture: The red wolf, Canis rufus, is smaller than its close relative, the gray wolf. Virtually extinct in the wild, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is breeding red wolves in captivity. They have had mixed success when the captive-bred red wolves were released into two wilderness sites within their native habitat in the southeastern United States. Some wolves were able to thrive while others died. Red Wolf is Endangered sort.
Information(Info): Red wolves are the smallest of all wolves. They measure 100 to 130 cm (39 to 51 in) in length, not including their bushy tails, which are about 40 cm (about 16 in) long. They weigh between 20 and 40 kg (44 and 88 lb). Red wolves have muscular bodies covered with reddish-brown fur, which may have gray or black highlights on the ears, face, or tail. They have a narrower skull and shorter fur than their close relative, the gray wolf, as well as longer legs and ears.
Like other wolves, the red wolf is an efficient hunter, preying on animals ranging from raccoons to white-tailed deer. The red wolf also eats plants and sometimes will scavenge dead animals. It is most active at night.
Red Wolf picture: Controversy attends programs of captive breeding and subsequent reintroduction of the red wolf, Canis rufus, to parts of its former range in the southeastern United States. Scientists disagree about the status of the few remaining red wolves: Do they represent a unique species or are they the product of extensive hybridization with coyotes? The U.S. Endangered Species Act does not protect hybrids, and some politicians, citing this, curry favor with anti-wolf constituents by opposing restoration. Despite these efforts, and to the delight of conservationists, reintroduced red wolves again roam the swamps of coastal North Carolina and the forested coves of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Red wolves usually live in pairs or small family groups, rather than in packs. They normally mate for life, breeding once each year. After a gestational period of 60 to 63 days, females produce litters of four to seven pups. Pups are raised in a den, which the parents either dig themselves or take over from some other animal. By about five months of age, the pups are mature enough to travel with the adults. They reach full maturity at two years. Few red wolves survive for more than four years in the wild, but members of this species have lived for 14 years or longer in captivity.
Red wolves were extensively hunted, trapped, and poisoned by European settlers in North America (Texas, Florida), who viewed them as a threat to livestock and humans. They have also suffered from the disruption of their natural habitat. As the number of red wolves declined, it became difficult for them to find mates within their own species. As a consequence, they have interbred widely with coyotes. Today, red wolf-coyote hybrids are still found, but true red wolves, other than those introduced by captive breeding programs, have been considered extinct in the wild since 1980.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiated a captive-breeding program for the red wolf in 1973. In this program, biologists captured a small number of red wolves from the wild and brought them to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington. These captive animals produced their first litters in 1977. Over the years, the number of captive red wolves has increased, and scientists have reintroduced them to two wilderness locations: Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.