Scientific Name: Canis rufus
Abundance: Experimental Non-essential
(in Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell, and Washington counties)
Species Profile (PDF)
The red wolf was extensively killed throughout its range in North America for many years, primarily to protect livestock. Europeans settling in the New World brought with them an ingrained fear of wolves.
We know today that wolves as predators help maintain the overall health of the populations of prey species they feed upon. In 1987, the red wolf was introduced by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists as part of an experiment to examine the feasibility of restoring the population in the wild.
The size of the red wolf falls somewhere between the coyote and the gray wolf.
The red wolf is lankier than the gray wolf, and its legs are longer and more slender, enabling it to move about and maneuver easily in its southern habitat.
Color varies somewhat among red wolves, though it is usually a combination of cinnamon buff or tawny, or cinnamon red, with gray or black on the back and tip of the tail. The red wolf’s undersides vary in color from near white to a pinkish buff.
Red wolves inhabit upland and bottomland forests, coastal prairies, swamps and marshes. These animals require dense vegetation to protect denning sites and resting areas.
The red wolf is secretive and mostly nocturnal with much of its activity concentrated around dawn, dusk and early evening. During the winter, however, it frequently becomes more diurnal. Hunting is usually centered around a promising area within its larger home range (8 to 30,000 acres),
Their diet typically consists of White-tailed deer, raccoon, rabbits, nutria and smaller rodents. Wolves also eat carrion, and seasonally rely on insects, berries and other plants.
No Hunting Season
No Trapping Season
USFWS Red Wolf Recovery Project
Red Wolf Species Profile
Federal Officials Seek Assistance in Investigation of Red Wolf Death (US Fish and Wildlife Service news release, December 2016.)
Protected Species of North Carolina (PDF)
(Download infographic - PDF)