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This page is dedicated to the Red Wolf, the only wolf exclusive to the U.S. It is little known, & sadly it will likely become extinct in the wild very very soon. I hope and pray only that breeding populations remain in captivity until the day the species is able to live in peace.
There may be other "wolves" who belong in their own unique genetic tree, but I for one consider the red wolf a "true wolf", a member of the same family as Mexican, Gray etc. This fact, however, was not agreed upon until recently, and is still a point of debate; 1973 was when USFWS recognized them as a distinct endangered species, but as recently as the 90s, taxonomists were still divided on whether it belonged, as many believe it to be a pocket species of wolf-coyote hybridization.
(For the uninitiated - to the best of my knowledge - there's no "source" on taxonomy. There's no Taxonomist Judge, I'm told, who decides what species get to "exist". It's all about taxonomists generally agreeing with each others' work, which is reflected in research, which is reflected in common peoples' educational sources.)
Their taxonomic debatability is honestly understandable; they have a unique visual quality, being a bit smaller and leaner than their Canis cousins and having distinctly short fur. Even their winter coats seem to visually lack the long, iconic, angular fluff that makes other wolves' shapes so identifiable.
Their native range was once the entire southeastern quadrant of the U.S., reaching as far west as Texas, with a north-south range of Pennsylvania to Florida. Today, they are virtually extinct in the wild; a source from a couple years ago will tell you there are 50 in the wild, a more recent one will tell you there are under 30, and even more recent news suggests there may be fewer than 10 remaining. Primary cause of mortality: Gunshot. It is not by maladaptation, but the inability for southeastern America's humans to tolerate them, that they struggle for their freedom.
American Man's toxic delusions about wolves go all the way back to Medieval Europe, a subject so long and detailed it would be disruptive here. (I plan, however, on doing a Youtube series on this subject & more about wolves based on the book Of Wolves and Men :D )
As of recently (writing this in Fall 2021), the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, MO has teamed up with the St. Louis Zoo to purchase new tracts of land for breeding Rufus pairs. I do not know - perhaps it cannot currently be known - if this is a species-wide thing or an individual bias thing, but the Rufus specimens at EWC are so fearful of humans that they run and leap at the back fence every time humans come towards their (reasonably large) enclosure. I wish they had more chill so I could see them on a tour, but I respect and agree with their jumpiness. A recent email from EWC cites that there are "fewer than 20 individuals", presumably "in the wild".
Edit, spring 2022: For the first time since 2018, six red wolf puppies were born in the wild in North Carolina. Godspeed pups, stay away from humans! NPR reports a population of about 16 red wolves in the wild, while breeding pairs (thankfully) remain in captive breeding projects.
EWC reports 9 puppies born to their breeding pairs in 2022.
One red wolf has been found dead this year. I'm sure there are some that are never reported on. How did its lungs end up full of mud? :(
Not red wolf news, but important wolf news in general. I am so fucking mad. 273 Yellowstone wolves were killed last winter. Some sources say an entire pack was wiped out but are unclear about which one.