With a total population below 20 individuals, the world’s most endangered wolf lives only in a small area in and around the Alligator River and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuges in eastern North Carolina.
Called “America’s wolf,” the red wolf (Canis rufus) is the only large predator whose historic range is found entirely within the United States, stretching from Texas to New England. But hunting gradually reduced its range, and it was declared extinct in the wild in 1980. In a ground-breaking successful experiment, eight captive wolves were released in 1987 into North Carolina, eventually growing into a population over 100. But poaching and management changes enacted by the Fish and Wildlife Service resulted in their numbers plummeting.
In the spring, conservationists