A New Litter Of Endangered Red Wolf Pups Has Been Born In The Wild In North Carolina

Last week, The Red Wolf Recovery Program announced the birth of a new litter of wild red wolf puppies, three females and two males. These pups, along with a cross-fostered male pup born at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington, will join the Milltail Pack in Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in Eastern North Carolina, bringing the pack number to 13 wolves.

“This is extraordinary news for red wolves in the wild. This family group is now a large, fully-functioning pack with these new pups and yearlings,” said Ben Prater, director of the Defenders of Wildlife Southeast Program. “We are so grateful for the FWS biologists that made this happen. We are hopeful this is a sign of things to come in the species recovery.”

As previously reported by WAN, last year, the first red wolf litter was born in the wild since 2018.

Once common throughout the Southeast, red wolves faced extinction in the late 1970s after intensive predator-control programs and loss of habitat, prompting U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USWS) biologists to capture the very last wild individuals for a never-before-tried effort at captive breeding. In 1987, biologists reintroduced four wild pairs into Alligator National Wildlife Refuge.

In addition to the Milltail family group, two litters of four red wolf puppies each reside in acclimation pens with their parents and will be released in the coming weeks. With these litters and additional releases of captive-bred wolves, the wild population now stands to quadruple in two years.

The agency’s Red Wolf Recovery Program efforts include the following initiatives:

  • Resuming robust releases of red wolves into the wild population;

  • Matchmaking efforts to pair captive-bred red wolves with wild individuals;

  • Deploying a pup fostering program to increase the size of wild red wolf litters;

  • Using a local coyote sterilization program to protect red wolf genetics;

  • Rewriting the red wolf recovery plan, including an exploration of new reintroduction sites for wild red wolves; and

  • Taking steps to protect the safety of wild red wolves, including public outreach programs to build good will among people living in the recovery area.

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