Red Wolf

Red Wolf

name = Red WolfMSW3 Wozencraft | pages = | id = 14000773]
status = CR
status_system = iucn2.3
trend = up
status_ref =IUCN2007|assessors=Kelly "et al"|year=2004|id=3747|title=Canis rufus|downloaded=6 May 2008 Database entry includes justification for why this species is critically endangered.]

regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Carnivora
familia = Canidae
genus = "Canis"
species = "C. lupus"
subspecies = "C. l. rufus"
trinomial = "Canis lupus rufus"
trinomial_authority = Audubon & Bachman, 1851
The Red Wolf ("Canis lupus rufus") is a mammal of the order Carnivora. It once roamed throughout the Southeastern United States and is an ice age survivor of the Late Pleistocene epoch. [Reich, D.E., R.K. Wayne, and D.B. Goldstein. 1999. Genetic evidence for a recent origin by hybridization of red wolves. Molecular Ecology 8:139 - 144.] The Red Wolf has a reddish coat, silver-grey forehead and darker signs on white legs and a cream underbelly. The Red Wolf has long ears and smooth coat with long legs. It lives through the south-eastern parts of the United States, from Texas to Florida. A population is being reintroduced to North Carolina. [ [ Red Wolf Recovery Project] from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services] Scientists suggest that Red Wolf populations were extirpated from the wild in the southeastern United States and is now very endangered and slowly being reintroduced to its natural habitat.


The Red Wolf typically has a height at the shoulders of 66-70 cm (24-26 inches), a length of 140–165 cm (4.5–5.5 feet), and a weight of 18–36 kg (40–80 pounds). [] []


The origins of the Red Wolf line are set at 1-2 Mya with a branching from a common ancestor of the Gray Wolf ("Canis lupus"), the eastern North American wolves, and the Coyote ("Canis latrans"). One branch remained in North America. The other branch migrated to Eurasia and there gave rise to the Gray Wolf. Between 150,000—300,000 years ago, the North American branch created the eastern North American wolves and the Coyote. [Wilson, P.J., S. Grewal, I.D. Lawford, J.N.M. Heal, A.G. Granacki, D. Pennock, J.B. Theberge, M.T. Theberge, D.R. Voigt, W. Waddell, R.E.Chambers, P.C. Paquet, G. Goulet, D. Cluff, and B.N. White. 2000. DNA profiles of the eastern Canadian wolf and the red wolf provide evidence for a common evolutionary history independent of the gray wolf. Canadian Journal of Zoology 78:2156 - 2166.]

Once part of the same continuum of wolves, land-clearing and direct exploitation by people following European colonization resulted in a large gap between the few remaining Red Wolves in the southeastern United States and the larger population in central Ontario and southern Quebec.

Long-term analysis of mtDNA confirmed independence of the original Red Wolf from the Coyote or Gray Wolf populations in the eastern part of North America and isolated two distinct populations: one is known as the Red Wolf and the other as the Eastern Wolf. The sequence of haplotypes show elements similar to the Eastern Wolf and it is probably of the sister taxon to the Red Wolf. The mtDNA analysis confirm that the Red Wolf's ancestors belonged to an ancient form of primitive wolf (along with the Eastern Wolf) and certain fossils from North America 750 000 years ago in the eastern part of North America and later divided into two or three species [Red Wolf + Eastern Wolf and Coyote (distinct from about 300 thousand years ago)] (Nowak,1979, 1992). Wilson et al. (2000) concluded that the Eastern Wolf and Red Wolf should be considered as sister taxa and recognized as distinct species from other North American canids. However, the canonical listing of mammal species lists them both as subspecies of the Gray Wolf.


Aggressive predator control programs, hunting and agriculturalization have combined to bring the red wolf near to extinction, because it was thought to be a threat to livestock. It is now considered rare.It is thought that its original distribution included much of eastern North America, where Red Wolves were found from New York in the east, Florida in the south, and Texas in the south-west. Records of bounty payments to Wappinger Indians in New York in the middle 1700s confirm its range at least that far north; [J. Michael Smith: The Highland King Nimhammaw and the Native Indian Proprietors of Land in Dutchess County, NY: 1712-1765. "Hudson River Valley Review"] it's possible that it could have extended as far as extreme eastern Canada. There are thought to be about 300 red wolves remaining in the world, with 220 of those in captivity.cite web | title = Red Wolf | work = US Fish & Wildlife | url =] For decades, the Red Wolf has been indistinguishable genetically from either the Gray Wolf or the Coyote.ref_label | Roy1994 |2| a The Red Wolf breeds with both species and may again be in peril as contact with other species in the wild resumes.ref_label | Wayne1991|5| b

In 1987 approximately 100 were reintroduced into the wild as the first island propagation project in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge off the coast of North Carolina. In 1989 the second island propagation project initiated with release of a population on Horn Island off the Mississippi coast. This population was moved in 1998 because of a likelihood of encounters with humans. The third island propagation project introduced a population on St. Vincent Island, Florida offshore between Cape San Blas and Apalachicola, Florida in 1990, and in 1997 the fourth island propagation program introduced a population to Cape St. George Island, Florida south of Apalachicola, Florida. In 1991 two pairs were reintroduced into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where the last known wolf was killed in 1905. Despite some early success, the wolves were relocated to North Carolina in 1998, ending the effort to reintroduce the species to the Park. Historical habitats included forests, swamps and coastal prairies, where it was an apex predator.


Traditionally, three subspecies of Red Wolf are recognized. Two of these subspecies are extinct. "Canis rufus floridanus" has been extinct since 1930 and "Canis rufus gregoryi" was declared extinct in the wild by 1970. "Canis rufus rufus", the other surviving subspecies, was extirpated in 1980, although that status was changed to "critically endangered" when 100 wolves were reintroduced in North Carolina.

Habits and social structure

Red Wolves are shy and wary creatures (a possible explanation for their 'rare' reputation). They prefer to hunt alone or in small family groups; pack sizes are smaller than those of their gray cousins, consisting often of one adult pair and their offspring.

As in other canids pair-bonding is strong and Red Wolves mate for life. They mate yearly and two or three pups are usually born in the spring. Both parents help raise the offspring who are mature enough to leave behind parental support at six months of age.

Their diet consists of small animals, including rabbits, raccoons and rodents. They occasionally bring down deer with the help of other wolves and they supplement their diet with insects and berries.

Unlike the grey wolf, which has historically been known to kill people on rare occasions,cite book | author = Graves, Will |url = | title = Wolves in Russia: Anxiety throughout the ages | year = 2007 | pages = pp.222 | id = ISBN 1550593323] cite web | url = | title = Is the fear of wolves justified? A Fennoscandian perspective. | work = | publisher = Acta Zoologica Lituanica, 2003, Volumen 13, Numerus 1 | accessdate = 2008-05-09] the red wolf has not been recorded to attack people, though they were reported to scavenge upon corpses on the battlefields of the Mexican-American War.cite book | author=Audubon, John James | title=The Imperial Collection of Audubon Animals | year=1967 | pages=p307 | id=ASIN|B000M2FOFM ]

Cultural reference

On January 1 2008, Arkansas State University’s Mascot Selection Steering Committee decided to use the Wolves as a mascot. The Red Wolves were officially approved by the university board of trustees on March 7, 2008. The ceremony and unveiling of the new [
] was held on March 13, 2008.

On July 1 1976, The Red Wolf became the official mascot of the Navy's premier Naval Special Warfare Support Helicopter Squadron. Known at the time as HAL-4. Today, they are known as [ HSC-84] and fly the HH-60H Rescue Hawk.


# Database entry includes justification for why this species is critically endangered
# ^ Roy, M.S., Geffen, E., Smith, D., Ostrander, E.A. & Wayne, R.K. (1994). "Patterns of differentiation and hybridization in North American wolflike canids, revealed by analysis of microsatellite loci.". "Molecular Biology and Evolution"11: 553–570.
# ^ Roy, M.S., Girman, D.G., Taylor, A.C. & Wayne, R.K. (1994). "The use of museum specimens to reconstruct the genetic variability and relationships of extinct populations.". "Experientia"50: 551-557.
# ^ Wayne, R.K. & Jenks, S.M. (1991). "Mitochondrial DNA analysis implying extensive hybridization of the endangered red wolf Canis rufus". "Nature"351: 565-568.
# ^ Wayne, R.K., Lehman, N., Allard, M.W. & Honeycutt, R.L. (1992). "Mitochondrial DNA variability of the grey wolf - genetic consequences of population decline and habitat fragmentation". "Conservation Biology"6: 559-569.
# ^ R. Nowak, R.M. (1992). "The red wolf is not a hybrid.". "Conservation Biology"6: 593-595.

External links

* [ Summary of Red Wolf Genetic Analysis]
* ARKive - [ images and movies of the Red wolf ("Canis rufus")]
* [ Red Wolf Species Overview at]
* [ The Wolves of Algonquin Provincial Park ? A Report by the Algonquin Wolf Advisory Group] (PDF)
* [ Wolf added to Species at Risk list: Ontario must act]
* [ Click for Wolves Wolf News and Resources]
* [ The Red Wolf Coalition]
* [ WolfSource]
* [ Field Trip Earth]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • red wolf — n. a small, reddish wolf (Canis rufus) of the SE U.S …   English World dictionary

  • red wolf — red′ wolf′ n. zool. mam a small North American canid Canis rufus[/ex] …   From formal English to slang

  • red wolf — noun reddish grey wolf of southwestern North America • Syn: ↑maned wolf, ↑Canis rufus, ↑Canis niger • Hypernyms: ↑wolf * * * noun 1. : maned wolf …   Useful english dictionary

  • red wolf — /ˈrɛd wʊlf/ (say red woolf) noun (plural red wolves) an endangered wolf, Canis rufus, formerly widespread in south eastern North America but extirpated in the wild by the 1970s; now the subject of a captive breeding and reintroduction program …   Australian-English dictionary

  • red wolf — noun Date: 1840 a wolf (Canis rufus syn. C. niger) originally of the southeastern United States that has been extirpated from most of its natural range …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • red wolf — a small, reddish gray American wolf, Canis rufus, similar to the coyote: once abundant in the southeastern U.S., it is now near extinction in the wild. [1940 45] * * * …   Universalium

  • Red Wolf — noun Common name for Canis rufus …   Wiktionary

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