[Rare Animals] Red wolf (Canis lupus rufus)
The red wolf (Canis lupus rufus, formerly Canis rufus) is a North American canid that once roamed throughout the Southeastern United States. Based on fossil and archaeological evidence, the original red wolf range extended throughout the southeast, from the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, north to the Ohio River Valley and central Pennsylvania, and west to central Texas and southeastern Missouri. Historical habitats included forests, swamps, and coastal prairies, where it was an apex predator. The red wolf is morphologically midway between grey wolves and coyotes, and recent genetic research indicates it may actually be a hybrid species. The red wolf was thought to be extinct in the wild by 1980. 1987 saw a reintroduction in northeastern North Carolina through a captive breeding program and the animals are considered to be successfully breeding in the wild.
The Red Wolf is a cousin to the Gray Wolf. The Red Wolf was actually deemed extinct in the wild in 1980 to be one of the rarest animals. There were, luckily, some Red Wolves were still in captivity, twenty to be exact. Wildlife conservationists increased the number of Red Wolves in captivity to 207, and today there are about 100 living in the wild. A success story, yes, but the factors that caused the Red Wolf to become so endangered are still present today, in that their hunting ground has been severely depleted. Luckily there are wildlife preserves that allow these wolves to live in their natural habitat, though protected from urban sprawl.