Critically endangered red wolf litter born in North Carolina wild, inspiring hope for species

The birth of a newborn endangered animal is always a cause for celebration. Every new arrival helps to save a vulnerable species from extinction.Wildlife experts are now celebrating the arrival in the wild of a litter of endangered red wolf pups.

The Red Wolf Recovery Program announced incredible news on May 10: a newborn litter of three females and two males arrived the second week of April.

It is the second year in a row that the parents — known as mother 2225 and father 2323 — have produced a litter in Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in eastern North Carolina

Because the couple has a “proven ability to care for and nurture a lively bunch of pups,” the Red Wolf Recovery Program has placed a foster pup born at Washington’s Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in their care, bringing their litter total to six pups.

According to Live Science, the pack now has 13 members, making it the largest known red wolf family in the wild.The organization hailed the announcement as “a cause for joy and celebration in 2023.””This is fantastic news for red wolves in the wild.” “With these new pups and yearlings, this family group is now a large, fully-functioning pack,” Ben Prater, director of the Defenders of Wildlife Southeast Program, told World Animal News. “We are extremely grateful to the FWS biologists who made this possible.” We hope that this is a sign of things to come in terms of species recovery.”

The red wolf is the world’s rarest dog family member, classified as “critically endangered” by the IUCN Red List. Before receiving protection status, the once-common species had been driven nearly extinct by the 1960s.

Since the red wolf was designated an endangered species, efforts have been made to breed the wolves in captivity and reintroduce them to the wild. The species’ population peaked at 130 wolves in 2006. However, they faced further setbacks: according to the Washington Post, a state law allowing coyote hunting resulted in the deaths of several red wolves.

“The red wolf hit rock bottom as a wild species … right as humanity was heading into the depths of the pandemic,” Ron Sutherland, chief scientist at the Wildlands Network, told the Post. “The red wolf was nothing but a ghost of a species at that point, clinging to reality only by virtue of the 200 captive animals scattered in zoos across the country.”

According to the Wolf Conservation Center, as of February 23 there were only 14 remaining in the wild in North Carolina, underscoring what a huge deal this new arrival is.

What incredible news! This newborn litter is inspiring plenty of hope for the critically endnagered red wolf.