Thursday, January 24, 2013

2012: The 25th Anniversary of the Reintroduction of Red Wolves to North Carolina

Red wolves arrive at Manteo airport, 1987. Photo: USFWS.

With the close of 2012, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the reintroduction of red wolves into the northeastern North Carolina recovery area.  In the fall of 1987, eight wolves were released in Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas. Over the years, we have faced many challenges, but the red wolf has continued to survive amidst changing habitats, policies, and management.  Today, the Red Wolf Recovery Program is still working towards recovery goals through conservation management, outreach, and education.  We’ve made a lot of progress—with an estimated 100-120 individuals established in the wild, and another 192 wolves in >40 captive breeding facilities participating in the Species Survival Plan program.  However, many factors, including human-caused mortality, continue to threaten the long-term success of the species.  Our overall recovery goals are the following:

  1. Establish and maintain at least three red wolf populations via restoration projects within the historic range of the red wolf.   Each population should be numerically large enough to have the potential for allowing natural evolutionary processes to work within the species.   This must be paralleled by the cooperation and assistance of at least 30 captive-breeding facilities in the United States. 
  2. Preserve 80% to 90% of red wolf genetic diversity for 150 years.
  3. Remove threats of extinction by achieving a wild population of approximately 220 wolves and a captive population of approximately 330 wolves.

There still is a lot of work to do be done to achieve these goals.  We’re grateful for your continued support of red wolf conservation and recovery!!

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