Time to make babies? A pair of red wolves, one recently moved from Florida to North Carolina and the other a resident female, have been released from their acclimatization pens in hopes of creating a breeding pair.
In January, the US Fish and Wildlife Service airlifted the juvenile red wolf from Florida to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge to try and create a new breeding pair with a resident female.
The two were held in acclimatization enclosures and have now been released to hopefully begin their life together.
The red wolf once roamed much of the southeastern United States, but was declared extinct in 1980, edged out by predators like gray wolves and coyotes. Fourteen remaining red wolves were captured in Texas and Louisiana before the declaration of extinction and were used to establish a breeding program.
In 1987, a few mated pairs were released as part of a reintroduction experiment at the Alligator River Wildlife Refuge. This experience has grown to a population of over 100 Red Wolves spanning five counties in eastern North Carolina, including Dare and Hyde.
But in recent years, a “vocal group of landowners have pushed the government to abandon recovery efforts, arguing the animal is a coyote hybrid,” according to the Associated Press. Last year there were no breeding pairs in North Carolina and only a dozen red wolves were left.
In 2015, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission called on the federal government to end the red wolf conservation program and began removing some protections for endangered dogs. Last year, the federal government considered a proposal to reduce the conservation area to only Dare and Hyde counties.