Red Wolf

Canis rufus

Conservation status: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED
Population: 9
Artist: Finlay, St Mary Magdalen's RCVA Primary, Seaham, UK
Project: Where Did All the Animals Go? 2021


The red wolf is one of the world's rarest canids with less than 30 left in the wild

Red wolves are smaller than their relative, the grey wolf and have longer legs and shorter fur. Their coat is a tawny red with grey and black touches. Males are typically larger than females. Red wolves formerly ranged throughout the southeastern USA, from the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, north to the Ohio River Valley and central Pennsylvania, and west to central Texas and southeastern Missouri. Following a massive decline during the 20th Century, the species was declared extinct in the wild in 1980 after the last 17 wild red wolves were taken into captivity to begin a captive breeding program. A highly successful recovery programme reintroduced the red wolf to a remote, five-county area of northeastern North Carolina, As of 2003, the free-ranging red wolf population numbered around 100 individuals in 20 family groups. However, the population has dwindled to just 24 individuals.


Red wolves suffered as a result of persecution and habitat loss as mature woodlands were cleared to make way for agriculture. Red wolves were extensively trapped and shot.  Hunting is now the biggest threat to the last remaining 24 wild red wolves alongside hybridisation. The Wolf Conservation Center, New York, works tirelessly to conserve red and Mexican grey wolves: Information credit: Arkive