Wild dogs in Texas linked to an endangered red wolf

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  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    The parents of this 7-week-old red wolf cub keep an eye on their offspring at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, North Carolina, in 2017. A pack of wild dogs found frolicking near Texas Gulf Coast beaches led to the discovery that red wolves, or at least an animal closely aligned with them, persist in isolated areas of the southeast nearly 40 years after the animal was thought to have died out in the wild state.

DALLAS >> Researchers say a pack of wild dogs found frolicking near Texas Gulf Coast beaches carry a significant amount of red wolf genes.

The discovery has led to a new understanding that red wolf DNA is remarkably resilient after decades of human hunting, habitat loss and other factors have driven the animal to near decimation.

The red wolf was declared extinct in the wild in 1980, but some have been captured for a successful captive breeding program. These dogs were part of an experimental feral population in North Carolina.

Genetic analysis has revealed that the canids from Galveston Island in Texas appear to be a hybrid of red wolf and coyote. A scientist involved in the research said further testing was needed to tag the animal.

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