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6 Mar 2023
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Slowly and steadily, and with some setbacks, the wild Red Wolf population is gaining a toehold in Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

The Red Wolf, a subspecies of gray wolves, was thought to be extinct in the wild by the 1980s when a small test breeding population was introduced into ARNWR. At one time the wolf ranged from Virginia to Texas.

Smaller than gray wolves, red wolves are are between 45-80 pounds, although the upper weight would be a very large male for the species.

USFW has taken to putting blaze orange collars on every red wolf they can get to in the wildlife refuge, hoping to alert hunters that the animal is not a coyote. Coyotes have become a substantial nuisance species in eastern North Carolina and hunters there is no closed season for the them.

The problem for the red wolves is that for an inexperienced hunter, a red wolf—especially a smaller one—can look much like a coyote, and a number of red wolves have been accidentally shot. The collars are also reflective, helping drivers to better see the wolves walking along highways. The collars serve two purposes—protection for the wolf and it gives wildlife biologists the ability to track the animal.

Although there was a death this year of a nine year old male who was in poor health, USFW report pups born last spring (3 females, 2 males) survived the winter and are now large enough to get collars of their own.

According to USFW there may be as many as 19 red wolves at ARNWR—which doesn’t sound like many, but it does represent a slow but steady growth over the years.

So many surprising things to learn about the Outer Banks that one visit is never enough. Be sure to reserve your time in a Brindley Beach Vacations home to being a time of discovery.