Photographer Unknown, Red Wolf
Originally distributed throughout the Southeastern US, the red wolf was nearly driven to extinction by the mid-1900s due to aggressive predator control programs, habitat destruction and extensive hybridization with coyotes. By the late 1960s, it occurred in small numbers in the Gulf Coast of western Louisiana and eastern Texas. Fourteen of these survivors were selected to be the founders of a captively bred population, which was established in the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium between 1974 and 1980.
After a successful experimental relocation to Bulls Island off the coast of South Carolina in 1978, the red wolf was declared Extinct in the Wild in 1980 in order to proceed with restoration efforts. In 1987, the captive animals were released into North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, with a second release taking place two years later in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.