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Research to Aid Future Conservation Efforts for the American Red Wolf

A core component of the Endangered Wolf Center’s mission is to conduct research that aids in the conservation of endangered wolves. When it comes to the American red wolf, with fewer than 20 left in the wild, research is needed to identify suitable habitats and reintroduction areas within their historic range.

A Crucial Member of a Healthy Ecosystem

Once native throughout the entire Southeastern United States, the American red wolf was nearly hunted to extinction. Now that scientists have gained a better understanding of the crucial role wolves play in their ecosystems, conservationists, biologists, government agencies, zoological facilities and others across the nation are working together to save this species. By doing so, it is possible to improve the environment. How?

Because wolves prey on sick and diseased animals, they help improve the health of deer and elk populations and ensure they do not become overpopulated and damage the environment for other vital species.

At the Endangered Wolf Center, a family pack of red wolves blend into what was once their native Missouri habitat.

Wolves also keep herds on the move, which helps vegetation grow and provides a habitat for smaller mammals and birds. In Yellowstone National Park, the reintroduction of wolves restored balance to its ecosystem. Can red wolves do the same in regions where they are historically native?

Red Wolves Infographic

Why Study Red Wolves?

American red wolves are the only large carnivore solely native to the United States. This is our wolf, and we need more information to ensure sound and effective decision-making for conservation moving forward.

Red wolves are currently only found in the wilds of a small area of North Carolina in and around the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. This area, as you can see from the map above, is minuscule in comparison to their native range. In order to establish a viable wild population, research was needed to understand more about habitat suitability for red wolves in their historic range. Are there other areas that can support red wolf reintroductions?

Collaborating to Save a Species

American Red Wolf

The American red wolf is the only large carnivore solely native to the United States.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service formed a National Recovery Team for the red wolf that aims to examine the future of this species’ recovery.

Director of Animal Care and Conservation at the Endangered Wolf Center, Regina Mossotti, was invited to sit on that team. She said that a study like this is a resource that will help the Recovery Team determine the next steps for red wolves.

The Endangered Wolf Center is excited to announce that this study, “An Initial Habitat Suitability Analysis For The Red Wolf Across Its Historic Range,“ was just published in the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management.

The EWC identified the need for this study based on the work of our staff in red wolf conservation. One of our former staff, Lauren Toivonen, who was starting her graduate research, was brought on to the study. The EWC reached out to Dr. Matthew Gompper at the University of Missouri-Columbia to partner in this effort. In addition, Dr. Hong He joined the team to help design and analyze this habitat suitability assessment.

The USFWS has said that they want to identify new recovery areas and ways to grow this critically endangered population. We are proud that our work can be used to help achieve that goal.

We are grateful to all of our collaborators, members, and donors whose support helps us complete valuable work toward our vision: that endangered wolves will be recognized and valued as vital members of a healthy ecosystem.

Red Wolves Pack Howlin

A trio of American red wolves howl on a brisk Missouri day at the Endangered Wolf Center.

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