Help Raise Awareness for the Red Wolves

Help Raise Awareness for the Red Wolves

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Ethan Picard started this petition to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and

Between 1974 and 1980, the Red wolves population was very low in the wild and was in a downward trend. So, 14 wolves were captured to start a captive population in Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Washington State in the hopes of saving this species. In 1980 Red Wolves were declared extinct in the wild. Seven years later, 4 pairs were released in the Alligator River Refuge in North Carolina. In 1992 the U.S Fish and Wildlife Services tried to release some in Great Smokey Mountains National Park to establish another area where red wolves can live peacefully, but the plan failed due to lack of prey. the animals were moving out of the park to find food. In 2006, the population peaked at around 130 Red Wolves in the wild, but even since then the number of Red Wolves had been decreasing.  Today there are around 10 red wolves in the wild, and 250 are captive in a breeding program.

Red wolves are the most endangered member of the canid family.  The main threat to their species is humans, specifically conflict with private landowners, such as farmers.  In the 1960s red wolves were persecuted on a massive level and were hunted out of fear, for their fur or for pleasure.  They also suffered from habitat loss as agricultural industries grew, which caused human and wolf territory to overlap more and more.  Red wolves continued to be killed, and as their numbers dropped, a new, neighboring apex predator began to invade red wolf territory: the coyote.  Coyotes are canids that look very similar to red wolves and are more aggressive, fewer people shy and are more likely to prey on livestock.  Coyotes are very adaptable and soon spread through the majority of red wolf terrain.  When red wolves were reintroduced into the wild in the Alligator River Wildlife Refuge in northeastern North Carolina there were no coyotes.  However, it wasn’t long before the coyote population (which had skyrocketed) invaded and competed with red wolves for resources and land.  Private landowners and farmers had developed a hate for coyotes, and if one was seen, they were shot.  This created a problem; red wolves were mistaken for coyotes and were killed.  Up to 14 red wolves were killed per year due to mistaken identity before 2014.  This had a detrimental impact on the already dwindling population.  Red wolves struggled to find mates and began to hybridize with coyotes, which further damaged the red wolf population.  Red wolves face many threats, the overarching cause being human interference in the red wolf’s natural ecosystem.  

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