Site hosted by Build your free website today!

The Red Wolf

Quick Facts

The purpose of this page is to bring together reliable information and links on the red wolf. When I first started these page on the Red Wolf I was immediantly confronted with the difficulty of obtaining consistant and accurate information. Much of this problem may be due to the confusion over whether a red wolf is a hybrid, a sub-species or an independant species. In writing this I have tried to always check information against 2 other sources. Anything in {brackets} is information found in one source only although the source may be credible. I felt the need for some sort of quality control. All information presented here is to my knowledge accurate.

The Red Wolf is a creature shrouded in mystery, tragedy and debate. Arguement continues as to whether it is a "real" wolf or a hybrid. The species whether pure or hybrid may have been the original wolf ancestor of North America. Despite conservation and relocation projects the red wolf is not thriving.

Many factors have contributed to the decline. The red, like most wolves, was hunted and trapped ruthlessly in the past. As the rural South has become more and more urban, the natural habitat has been destroyed pushing the wolves into the swamps and other undesired lands. The red wolf has interbreed with coyotes until most packs in the wild are made up of hybrids. Interbreeding often occurs on a grand scale when a species is in crisis. Epidemics such as heartworms, intestinal parasites, and mange have killed large numbers in alrady low and weak populations.

The original range of the red wolf was throughout the southeastern United States stretching to {New York and the Great Lakes area} and into southern Illinois. Fossil remains indicated this creature is an ancient and old breed. The wolf killing craze that swept the US until the last few decades took its toll on the red wolf. In the 1900's coyotes began coming across the Mississippi River. By the 1930's, the red wolf was limited to 2 areas (1) the Ozark/Quichita Mountain areas of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri and (2) the coastal areas of southwest Texas and southern Louisiana. By the 1960's, coyotes had interbreed with reds until the species disappeared everywhere but Texas and Louisiana. Even there, hybrids abounded and enviromentalist began to see the possibility of extinction. Red wolves were taken from Texas to breeding facilities in hopes of preserving the last red wolves. By 1980, the red wolf was extinct in the wild. {However, some sources say the red wolves of Texas have been present in the Anahuac National Park constantly. Others claim a continued red wolf presence in the wetlands of the Gulf Coast states from Texas to Alabama. Yet others say, all those "red wolves" are really coyote hybrids and not true wolves.}

Captive born red wolves were first released on in the Bull Island area of Cape Romain National Wildlife Reserve in South Carolina. The results were grim, half the animals died and many had to be returned to captivity. Wolves are still living there. In 1987, wolves were released in the Alligator River National Wildlife Reserve in North Carolina. These wolves did better. Encouraged, reds were released in the Cades Cove area of the Great Smokey Mountain National Park in Tennessee in 1992. Recently wolves have also been introduced to St. Vincent Island off the coast of Flordia, and Horn Island off the coast of Mississippi.

The goal of the relocation project is a captive population of 330 and a wild population of at least 220. The total population of red wolves now stands at no more than 300, wild or captive.

Red wolves share many characteristics with other wolves; their social unit is the pack-a family group of 4-10 members, the red has a narrower and longer face than a grey wolf. The coat is similar to a grey wolf except for the red coloring around the face, neck and legs and the short hair of the red wolf is in contrast to the thick coat of other wolves.

The red wolf is often mistaken for a coyote due to the interbreeding. However, the red wolf has longer legs than a coyote and is larger and more robust in the chest area.

The howl of a red wolf is a long wail, similar to a coyote, but ending in a slightly higher note.

Red wolves breed from December to January. Litters of 3-6 deaf and blind pups are born in early spring. Sight and hearing develope by 3 weeks. Red wolves mate for life and share the rearing of the young. The cub mortality rate is very high among reds. Cubs disperse anywhere from 6 to {7-22} months. This slowness to gain independence may be due to the disruption of the natural pack unit that has come through the mixture of captive and wild-born wolves.

The Red Wolf usually travels and hunts in pairs, though they will occasionally form social groups of 5 -10. The heirarchial organization of the pack seems looser among reds perhaps because their small numbers make all members important.

Mating occurs twice a year, The first phase begins in at the end of December and runs to the bginning of January. The second phase runs from late February to early March. Pups are born in April or May in litters of 3-7. Due to parasites, hookworm and other diseases there is a high mortalilty rate for pups during the first 6 months. Red wolves mate for life.

Red are very suceptable to mange, heartworm and intestinal parasites as causes of death.

This Ring of the Wolf site is owned by the Library Lady.

Want to join the Ring of the Wolf?

[Prev] [Next] [Skip Next] [Random] [Next 5] [Chat]

Before you go check the webrings above and the links below...

Books about Wolves and other Wild Dogs

Red Wolves of Alligator River--N. Carolina
Us Fish & Wildlife Division--red wolves
Red Wolf Information and Photos--great page!

Species Survival Project--Red Wolf
Wolf Sanctuary.Org --Red Wolves
General Information on Reds
Brief History of the Red Wolf
Kid's Red Wolf Page from BoomerWolf--Great
What is a Red Wolf?
Defenders of Wildlife--Red Wolf

Article on Species or Hybrid Controversy
N. Carolina Newspaper Article on red wolf pups
article: Wolves Take Back the Wild
Article: Why Conserve the Red Wolf

Wolves on the Web--an awesome site!
The Searching Wolf--another awesome site!