||Habits. Red wolves inhabited
brushy and forested areas, as well as the coastal
prairies. They are more sociable than coyotes. Three or
more may maintain a group structure throughout the year.
Riley and McBride, on the basis of systematic tracking,
estimated that the home range is approximately 40-80
kmē, averaging 56 kmē.
are known to feed on cottontails and other rabbits, deer,
native rats and mice, prairie chickens, fish and crabs
(along the Gulf Coast), as well as upon domestic
livestock, especially free-ranging pigs. Riley and
McBride list nutria (which they consider an important
buffer between red wolves and domestic livestock), swamp
rabbit, cottontail, rice rat, cotton rat, and muskrat as
specific food items.
Breeding occurs in January and
February, and the three or four pups are born in March
and April. The nursery den normally is dug in the slope
or crest of a low, sandy mound or hill, or in the bank of
an irrigation or drainage ditch. Man-made culverts and
drain pipes occasionally are utilized. The dens average
about 2.4 m in length and normally are no deeper than 1
m. Den entrances vary from 60 to 75 cm in diameter and
normally are well-concealed. Both sexes take part in
rearing the young. Frequently, young of the previous year
occur in the vicinity of a nursery den, but they do not
appear to participate in guarding, feeding, or training
of the pups of the year. When about 6 weeks old the pups
may forsake the nursery den.
Remarks. The red wolf was
apparently extinct in the wild by 1980. However, captive
breeding colonies of red wolves have been established at
several locations throughout the country. Beginning in
1987, red wolves were re-introduced to the Alligator
River National Wildlife Refuge (ARNWR), located on an
island off the coast of North Carolina. Between 1987 and
1992, 42 wolves were released in ARNWR and at least 23
wolves were born in the wild. As of August 1992, the
ARNWR population numbered at least 24 wolves.
Additionally, red wolf pairs have been released on
Bulls Island, South Carolina, St. Vincent Island,
Florida, and Horn Island, Mississippi, but breeding and
survival on these islands have been limited. Most
recently, red wolves have been re-introduced to the Great
Smoky Mountains National Park. It is doubtful red wolves
can be re-introduced in Texas because of human population
pressures where they formerly occurred.
Photos courtesy of the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service.