Welcome to Red Wolf Country
Northeastern North Carolina is Famous for the Outer Banks with its beautiful beaches, but the region has plenty of other natural attractions. Just a short drive inland, you'll find many more places to appreciate nature and the areas diverse wildlife - including a fascinating animal found nowhere else in the world, the red wolf.
Hearing is Believing
Red wolves are shy and tend to avoid humans, so your best bet for connecting with them is to listen for their howls at night. Nearby Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge hosts guided wolf "howlings" and is a good place to go to learn about red wo1ves. Call the refuge for details about howlings arid other programs: (252) 473-1131
Red Wolf Facts
· Red wolves are not actually red. They are mostly brown with some black along their backs. Their muzzles, the backs of their legs and the area behind their ears often have a deep reddish tinge.
· Red wolves are members of the canine family, a well-know group that includes dog, solves, coyotes and foxes.
· Red wolves weigh 55-85 pounds, about the size of a German shepherd. They are larger than coyotes but smaller than their gray wolf cousins, which can reach 125 pounds.
The Return of a Native
The red wolf once roamed the entire southeastern United States. But centuries of persecution and habitat destruction decimated their population. By 1980, this magnificent predator was no longer found in the wild. However, thanks to recovery efforts carried out under the federal Endangered Species Act, red wolves are back and thriving in the woods of northeastern North Carolina.
The Long Road to Recovery
1967 Red wolf declared an endangered species.
1973 Scientists begin to capture the last red wolves for captive breeding.
1980 Red wolf declared extinct in the wild.
1987 Four pairs of captive-bred wolves released in Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina - the first-ever reintroduction of an extinct species to the wild.
1988 First litter of red wolf pups born in the wild in almost a decade.
2004 55 pups born in 18 red wolf packs.
Today, more than 100 red wolves live in a recovery area that now encompasses 1.5 million wild acres not far from the bustling barrier islands of the Outer Banks.
A Howling Success
The successful reintroduction of red wolves in northeastern North Carolina helps the environment and the economy in several ways:
· Wolves keep white-tailed deer herds healthy by preying on weak and sick individuals.
· Wolves increase populations of ground-nesting birds such as quail and turkey by eating raccoons and other nest predators.
· Wolves provide natural pest control by consuming non-native creatures such as the nutria, a large rodent introduced from South America that damages crops, irrigation canals and wetlands.
· Wolves boost tourism by drawing people to the area for "howlings," nature tours and woldf education programs.
Whether you are a visitor or local resident, the return of the red wolf to northeastern North Carolina is something to howl about.