#MapMonday: Red Wolves

Lindsay, our Conservation GIS Scientist, and Heather, our Southeast office Outreach Representative, dive into our red wolf story map to learn more about this highly endangered species and its habitat. You can check out the story map here.

Click to view video transcript

Hi there and welcome back for another #MapMonday! Today, I wanted to share with you some cool facts and maps about one of my favorite species.

Can you guess what it is?


Did you know that there are 3 main species of wolf in the world? Two of them live in North America: the red wolf and the gray wolf.

That howl came from a red wolf.

The red wolf is the smaller of the two species, typically about the size of a German shepherd. And although its coat can come in many colors, its name comes from the reddish fur that’s behind their ears and their legs.

Defenders is actively working to squash current efforts to reduce red wolf protections and is engaging with communities to support healthy coexistence between human and wolf.

Red wolves used to live throughout the southeastern U.S. They had a very important role in these ecosystems as the top predator. This means that they are at the very top of the food chain and help control populations of prey species.

However, people have heavily hunted wolves to the point that they are now the most endangered large carnivore in the world. By the 1970s, red wolves only lived in this area of Texas and Louisiana.

And in 1987, the red wolf became the first predator to be reintroduced in the wild. They were brought back to North Carolina where Heather, our Southeast Outreach Representative, works to engage local people and groups to share knowledge and garner more support for the red wolf.

(Heather) Thanks! Red wolves are the only canid endemic to the southeastern United States. Their numbers plummeted in the 19th and 20th centuries due to extermination policies.

Today, you can only find them in northeastern North Carolina or in captive breeding facilities around the country.

(Lindsay) Thanks for that Heather! It seems like this species is still in need of our help. Today there are fewer than 40 red wolves left in the wild and over 200 in captivity.

Those in the wild still face many threats to recovery including illegal killings, sea-level rise, motor vehicle collisions and loss of habitat.

Defenders has played an important role in red wolf recovery and still has much to do. We have staff in North Carolina working to increase awareness of the red wolf and its needs.

Defenders has developed the Red Wolf Community Ambassador program, which trains folks in northeastern North Carolina to educate their neighbors about the red wolf and their importance to local environments.

In addition to working on the local level, Defenders has built relationships with accredited zoos and other captive breeding facilities through the American Red Wolf Species Survival Plan to create a national platform for red wolf conservation.

You can help this species is by sharing their story and continuing to support Heather and other Defenders as they work to help humans and wolves coexist. Here is Heather again with how you can find out more on red wolves!

(Heather) Check out this story map to learn more about this species’ conservation, history, and what Defenders is doing today to help the American Red Wolf.

To learn about more cool things like this story map, or good news such as their recent releases of red wolves in North Carolina, check us out on Facebook, on our Defenders of Wildlife Red Wolves page.

(Lindsay) Thanks for all you do Heather! And remember…just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t explore! Dive into a story map. See you next Map Monday!

Lindsay Rosa
Senior Conservation Scientist

As a Conservaion GIS Scientist with the Center for Conservation Innovation at Defenders, Lindsay leads geospatial analysis projects to improve conservation policies and practices.