The Wolf Intelligencer


The Red Wolf (Canis rufus)

All information via The Red Wolf Coalition

Red Wolf (Canis lupus rufus, Canis rufus)  – (Audubon and Bachman)
Gregory’s Wolf (Canis rufus gregoryi) – (Goldman 1937)

Common Names:
Red Wolf, Gregory’s Wolf, Mississippi Valley Wolf, Black Wolf

Overall population:[45-60, 1 mortality in 2016]

Physical description:
In size, the red wolf on average is in between Canis lupus (grey wolf) and Canis latrans (coyote), with its length ranging from 54.3 inches to 64.9 inches. Weights of red wolves range from, in males, 45-90lbs., and in females, 36-65lbs. The morphology of the red wolf has been described as having “spindly” long legs, slender body, and ears that are proportionately larger in relation to the head than in lupus and latrans.[1]
“As their name suggests, red wolves are known for the characteristic reddish color of their fur most apparent behind the ears and along the neck and legs, but are mostly brown and buff colored with some black along their backs.” [2]

[1] Paradiso, J. L.; Nowak, R. M. (1972). “Canis rufus” (PDF). Mammalian Species. 22 (22): 1–4. doi:10.2307/3503948. JSTOR 3503948.
[2] “Red wolf (Canis rufus)”. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Environmental Conservation Online System.

Original range -Red wolves formerly ranged throughout the southeastern USA, from the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, north to the Ohio River Valley and central Pennsylvania, and west to central Texas and southeastern Missouri. Zoologist Ronald Nowak believes red wolves historically occurred as far north as Maine in the northeastern USA.

Nowak, R. (2002) The Original Status of Wolves in Eastern North America. Southeastern Naturalist, 1(2): 95 – 130.

Current range – The national wildlife refuges and adjacent private property in the 1.7-million acre restoration area in northeastern North Carolina.

Habitat / Ecology: mixed forests, wetlands, agricultural lands and coastal prairies

Unique behaviors:

Legal and Cultural Background:

Status: Endangered-Experimental/Non-essential in the five-county recovery region in northeastern North Carolina. Endangered elsewhere if found. Captive population is listed as endangered.


Taxonomic/Genetic Information:


Further Reading

Journal / Scientific Publications:


229 From head to tail: A red wolf sperm project. Kamen S, Nagashima J, Songsasen N, Ferraz M. Reproduction, Fertility and Development. 2020 Jan


Interactions of Human-Caused Mortality, Genetic Introgression, and Management among Wild Red Wolves: Developing Scientific Consensus. Collazo J. US Geological Survey; 2019

 Is the Red Wolf a Valid Taxonomic Species?. In Evaluating the Taxonomic Status of the Mexican Gray Wolf and the Red Wolf. National Academies Press (US). Resources, N. and National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2019.

Substantial red wolf genetic ancestry persists in wild canids of southwestern Louisiana. Murphy SM, Adams JR, Cox JJ, Waits LP. Conservation Letters. 2019 Mar


Red wolf (Canis rufus) sperm quality and quantity is affected by semen collection method, extender components, and post-thaw holding temperature. Franklin AD, Waddell WT, Goodrowe KL. Theriogenology. 2018 Aug

 Is the red wolf a listable unit under the US Endangered Species Act?. Waples RS, Kays R, Fredrickson RJ, Pacifici K, Mills LS.Journal of Heredity. 2018 Jun

Ultrasonographic characteristics of the reproductive tract and serum progesterone and estradiol concentrations in captive female red wolves (Canis rufus) with and …
KM Anderson, MW Schook, KL Goodrowe, WT Waddell… – Journal of the American …, 2018

Size‐assortative choice and mate availability influences hybridization between red wolves (Canis rufus) and coyotes (Canis latrans). Hinton JW, Gittleman JL, van Manen FT, Chamberlain MJ. Ecology and evolution. 2018 Apr

Evidence for sex-specific reproductive senescence in monogamous cooperatively breeding red wolves; AM Sparkman, M Blois, J Adams, L Waits… – Behavioral Ecology and …, 2017

Stable Isotope Analysis of Dietary Overlap between the Endangered Red Wolf and Sympatric Coyote in Northeastern North Carolina. Arbogast BS, Hodge AM, Brenner-Coltrain J. Southeastern Naturalist. 2017 Jun

Survival and population size estimates of the red wolf. Hinton JW, White GC, Rabon Jr DR, Chamberlain MJ. The Journal of Wildlife Management. 2017 Apr

Using diets of Canis breeding pairs to assess resource partitioning between sympatric red wolves and coyotes. Hinton JW, Ashley AK, Dellinger JA, Gittleman JL, van Manen FT, Chamberlain MJ. Journal of Mammalogy. 2017 Mar

Effects of anthropogenic mortality on critically endangered red wolf Canis rufus breeding pairs: implications for red wolf recovery. Hinton JW, Brzeski KE, Rabon DR, Chamberlain MJ. Oryx. 2017 Jan

Habitat use by adult red wolves, Canis rufus, in an agricultural landscape, North Carolina, USA: M Karlin, T Václavík, J Chadwick, R Meentemeyer – Mammal Study, 2016

Space Use and Habitat Selection by Resident and Transient Red Wolves (Canis rufus); JW Hinton, C Proctor, MJ Kelly, FT van Manen… – PloS one, 2016

A SURVEY OF DISEASES IN CAPTIVE RED WOLVES (CANIS RUFUS), 1997-2012; KE Seeley, MM Garner, WT Waddell… – Journal of Zoo and …, 2016 –

Investigation of captive red wolf ejaculate characteristics in relation to age and inbreeding; KM Lockyear, SE MacDonald, WT Waddell… – Theriogenology, 2016

Mitochondrial DNA Variation in Southeastern Pre-Columbian Canids; KE Brzeski, MB DeBiasse, DR Rabon… – Journal of …, 2016

Describing a developing hybrid zone between red wolves and coyotes in eastern North Carolina, USA; JH Bohling, J Dellinger, JM McVey… – Evolutionary …, 2016 –

Managing hybridization of a recovering endangered species: The red wolf Canis rufus as a case study; EM Gese, FF Knowlton, JR Adams, K Beck… – Current …, 2015 –

Effects of anthropogenic mortality on Critically Endangered red wolf< Canis rufus breeding pairs: implications for red wolf recovery; JW Hinton, KE Brzeski, DR Rabon, MJ Chamberlain – Oryx, 2015 –

Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy in Two Red Wolf (Canis rufus) Pups; JL Gjeltema, RA MacLean, EB Cohen… – Case Reports in …, 2015

Using the “placeholder” concept to reduce genetic introgression of an endangered carnivore; EM Gese, PA Terletzky – Biological Conservation, 2015

The challenges of red wolf conservation and the fate of an endangered species recovery program; DL Murray, G Bastille‐Rousseau, JR Adams… – Conservation …, 2015 –

Early and adult social environments have independent effects on individual fitness in a social vertebrate; V Berger, JF Lemaître, D Allainé… – … . R. Soc. B, 2015


Diets of sympatric red wolves and coyotes in northeastern North Carolina. McVey JM, Cobb DT, Powell RA, Stoskopf MK, Bohling JH, Waits LP, Moorman CE.Journal of Mammalogy. 2013 Oct


From a howling wilderness to howling safaris: Science, policy and red wolves in the American south. Manganiello CJ. Journal of the History of Biology. 2009 May


The Role of Wolf (Canis lupus L.) in the Rhodope Mountains in the Beginning of the 21st Century. Genov P, Dutsov A, Dimitrova D, Stoyanova N, Angelovв I, Zlatanova D, Peshev D, Arabadjiev D, Georgiev T, Serafimov G, Sariyski S. Acta Zoologica Bulgarica. 2008 Nov


Reproductive endocrine patterns in captive female and male red wolves (Canis rufus) assessed by fecal and serum hormone analysis. Walker SL, Waddell WT, Goodrowe KL. Zoo Biology. 2002 Jul


Genetic evidence for a recent origin by hybridization of red wolves. MReich DE, Wayne RK, Goldstein DB. olecular Ecology. 199

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