Howl! It’s Wolf Week at the Woodlands Nature Station!
Every October, we participate in this nationwide educational campaign to celebrate wolves and spread the word about how people can help them. From Saturday, October 3 through Friday, October 9, Nature Station visitors can enjoy all sorts of special programs and activities featuring our favorite canines!
Wolves are near and dear to our hearts at the Nature Station. We have been caring for the Red Wolf, one of the most endangered mammals in the United States, for many years.
Since 1991, we have partnered with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on a captive breeding program called The Red Wolf Recovery Program. It’s mission is to save the Red Wolf. We are proud to be one of about 40 zoos and nature centers taking part in this national conservation program. Currently, you can see three red wolves on exhibit at the Nature Station.
Here are a few basic facts about the Red Wolf Recovery Program:
- The Red Wolf historically lived throughout the Southeastern United States.
- Unfortunately, by the mid-1900s, predator control programs and habitat loss eliminated the Red Wolf from most of its range. During those years, predator control was so widespread that the government even required forest rangers to kill any wolf they encountered!
- In the 1970s, biologists captured the few Red Wolves remaining in the wild, all sick and barely hanging on in a remote swampy area along the Gulf Coast. With all known living Red Wolves now in captivity, biologists declared the Red Wolf extinct in the wild in 1980.
- With these captured Red Wolves, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service began the captive breeding program. Over time, their numbers grew, and biologists pursued their next goal – reintroducing the Red Wolf back into the wild.
- Land Between The Lakes was the biologists’ first choice for the Red Wolf reintroduction. However, public opposition caused them to abandon this plan.
- Red Wolves did make their comeback to the wild in 1987, when biologists released them into Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in eastern North Carolina. Still today, this is the only place Red Wolves live in the wild.
- Currently, about 75 Red Wolves live in the wild, and about 200 live in captivity as part of the breeding program. This is all of the Red Wolves in existence in the world! Fewer Red Wolves exist in the world than Pandas!
Today, Red Wolves face a critical challenge. A conflict going on in North Carolina may put the whole Red Wolf Recovery Program in jeopardy. As a result of this situation, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is currently reviewing the program to decide how and if to proceed with it in the future. Learn more at these websites:
- Red Wolf Species Survival Plan: http://redwolfssp.org/wp/
- Earth Island Journal article that summarizes the situation:
Thanks everyone! We hope to see you at the Nature Station during Wolf Week, October 3-9!
Woodlands Nature Station Public Program Coordinator