Durham, N.C. (May 9, 2018) – Conservationists unveiled a new red wolf video today that they hope will prove reassuring to the hunting community in rural Eastern North Carolina, where the last few red wolves are found.
Red wolves are now considered one of the world’s most endangered mammals, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) admitting on April 25th that only 40 red wolves remain in the wild, down from 150 wolves in 2006. Wildlife biologists cite high levels of gunshot and trapping mortality as the reason for the rapid decline in the wolf population. Critics of the recovery effort for the species have complained in recent years that the red wolves are causing a “wildlife disaster” in North Carolina by eating all the deer and other game species favored by hunters.
To address these concerns and to try to alleviate the wolf-poaching crisis, the nonprofit conservation group Wildlands Network installed 20 motion-sensitive trail cameras in the red wolf recovery area in 2015. Today, Wildlands Network has released a five-minute video that shows all of the wildlife photos obtained from just one of those cameras over the past 20 months. An accompanying 45-second version of the video is also available in the same folder.
The camera is located at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, an area that has been home to the reintroduced red wolf population for over 30 years. The compiled footage shows steady alternating streams of red wolves, black bears, and white-tailed deer passing by the camera, along with bobcats, wild turkeys, and other species.
“This video should prove to be a pleasant surprise for hunters who have been told for years that the wolves would eat all the deer,” said Wildlands Network Conservation Scientist Dr. Ron Sutherland, who is supervising the camera project. “We decided to focus on just one camera, as then you can clearly tell that the deer and wolves are walking down the same road in the wildlife refuge, sometimes even on the same night.”
Wildlands Network has also posted all of the wildlife photos from their other cameras in the red wolf recovery area on our Flickr page for the public to view.
Red wolves (Canis rufus) were originally found across Eastern North America from Texas to Florida and as far north as New York. After the arrival of European colonists, the wolves were nearly wiped out, with the last few individuals relegated to coastal marshes in Texas and Louisiana in the 1960s and ‘70s. The red wolf was in such dire straits that it was listed as endangered in 1967, prior to the enactment of the federal Endangered Species Act in 1973. The FWS captured all the remaining red wolves they could find in the 1970s, and the species was declared extinct in the wild by 1980. In 1987, after several years of successful captive breeding, the agency proceeded to launch an innovative reintroduction effort in Eastern North Carolina. This was the first time in history that a top carnivore had been restored from extinction and returned to the wild.
The wild population originally grew well, indicating that the mix of forested wetlands and farm fields on North Carolina’s Albemarle Peninsula was suitable habitat for the species. But in recent years, high levels of human-caused mortality have caused the red wolf population to contract dramatically, with only three known breeding pairs of wolves known to exist in 2018 (according to FWS). The red wolf captive population continues to thrive, with new litters of pups announced at zoos and wildlife centers around the country in recent weeks. However, due to political pressure, the FWS stopped releasing red wolves from captivity into the wild in 2015, leaving the recovery of the species uncertain.
- Download dditional video footage of red wolves from Wildlands Network’s camera traps.
- View additional photos of red wolves from the camera trap (all wild, except as noted from the Museum of Life and Science in Durham).
- Wildlands Network has also recently added a comprehensive “Red Wolf Myths vs. Facts” page to our website.
Wildlands Network envisions a world where nature is unbroken, and where humans co-exist in harmony with the land and its wild inhabitants. Our mission is to reconnect, restore, and rewild North America so life in all its diversity can thrive.
Ron Sutherland, 919-641-0060, firstname.lastname@example.org