The Edge

The Student News Site of Edgewood Jr/Sr High School

The Edge

The Edge

Rescuing the Red Wolves

The Race Against Extinction

Red wolves: The most endangered species of wolf on the planet. A once thriving species that roamed far and wide throughout the south eastern territories of the United States, from far west of the Mississippi, to the Atlantic Coast, and all the way up to Long Island New York, the red wolf now resides on a small plot of land in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, a mere fraction of their former territory. First distinguished and documented in Florida in 1791 by botanist and explorer John Bartram, the red wolf is estimated to have had a population in the thousands, based upon it’s territorial range and little human presence. But it was only officially recognized as a species in 1905 by Vernon Bailey.

Throughout the 20th century, there were numerous factors contributing to the decline of the red wolf population. In 1920 deer herds reached an all time low in the south eastern United States, decimated from logging, mining, and other industrial work. In turn, red wolves had less a substantially lower chance of survival due to deer being their primary food source. With this, by the end of the roaring 20’s, red wolves were considered to be fully extirpated from the southern Atlantic states. As the 20th century progressed, the once populous red wolf was now nearing extinction. In 1967, the Red Wolf is officially listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966.

While the red wolf was officially listed as endangered, it wasn’t until 1973 that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service officially began the implementation of the Red Wolf Recovery Program (RWRP). Despite the fact that multiple Red Wolf implementation projects have been tried and put into place throughout the past few decades, only around 23-25 Red Wolves are left in the wild, leaving these attempts mostly unsuccessful.

Moreover, in 2017, to much of Red Wolf rescuer’s discontent, the United States Senate called for the U.S. Fish and Wild Life service to “end the Red Wolf Recovery Program.” The senate committee that oversees the affairs concerning red wolves released a statement with their decision.

“The program has failed to meet population goals for the red wolf and has impacted North Carolina landowners and the populations of several other native species,” said the Senate Appropriations Committee.

While the red wolf recovery program has been discontinued by the government, the Association of Zoo and Aquariums (AZA) has enrolled the red wolf species in their Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) program. The program’s aiming to recover the population to help the red wolf species to thrive. They plan to rehabilitate the population with those wolves in human care, and they also intend to raise awareness of the issue to increase research efforts.

Through AZA’s Red Wolf recovery program, as of February 2023, there are approximately 235 Red Wolves in 49 SAFE locations across the United States. The AZA also plans to increase the red wolf population by 40 pairs in the 2022-2023 breeding season. But the Red Wolves path to recovery doesn’t stop there, as the AZA encourages to support the recovery program by contributing to conservation programs, advocating for legal protection by lobby legislation that enhances conservation efforts, and raising awareness by educating others about the importance of red wolves in the ecosystem and their critical status. So while Red Wolves are in critical need of help, all hope is not lost. It’s important to remember the role red wolves play in their ecosystems and how every contribution to their conservation is a step closer to preserving their species and saving our beloved mascot.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Edge

Your donation will support the student journalists of Edgewood Jr/Sr High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Edge

Comments (0)

All The Edge Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *