Red Wolves in North Carolina
Red Wolves are on the Brink of Extinction
Red wolves used to roam throughout the eastern seaboard from Pennsylvania to Florida and as far west as Texas. Today, North Carolina’s Albemarle Peninsula is home to the only confirmed wild red wolves in existence.
While red wolves play a vital and unique biological role within their ecosystem, the species has declined more than 85 percent in the last decade (2010-2020) from roughly 130 to 15 wolves.
Habitat loss, wolf-vehicle collisions, gunshot mortality and hybridization with coyotes threaten the future of red wolves in North Carolina. A healthy red wolf recovery program is critical to ensure a sustainable population.
Increase Awareness of Red Wolves and Resume Reintroductions in the Wild
Trapping and relocation efforts in Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge will help create new breeding pairs. Red wolf pup introduction will increase genetic diversity, while coyote sterilization will help reduce hybridization, and outreach and education will reduce conflict and grow awareness and acceptance of red wolves in the wild.
Through our partnerships with the USFWS, National Wildlife Refuge Association, National Wildlife Federation and private landowners, we’re working on the ground in Columbia, North Carolina. We operate the Red Wolf Education and Health Care Facility to provide educational materials and seminars on red wolves. It also houses a space to conduct regular health checks on wolves and is home to a pair of captive red wolves that you can see in person and watch on our soon-to-be-released 24-hour live web streaming red wolf camera.
The Prey for the Pack program is open to private landowners in five northeastern North Carolina counties within the current population area of wild red wolves. Participants in the program will receive technical assistance and financial cost-share to help them implement habitat improvement projects on their property.
We’ve also improved the visitor services at Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center to grow interest in wildlife and habitat of the area, with a special focus on red wolves. In addition, we’ll continue to advocate for the natural resources of the Albemarle Peninsula at the local, state and federal levels to protect red wolf habitat and bring needed travel and tourism dollars to the “Yellowstone of the East.”