Wildlife: The Red Wolf in Texas

Red Wolf, photo by TPWD

Red Wolf, photo by TPWD

Passport to Texas with support from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program

The red wolf population once covered about a third of the southeast US, including Texas. By the late 1960S, the animals were nearly extinct.

07– The only red wolves left were in a little corner of southeastern Texas and Southwestern Louisiana … and there were only a few of them left.

Russell Roe, managing editor of TPW magazine, wrote a story about red wolves for the December issue. Habitat loss, wolf eradication programs, and an influx of coyotes, caused their near demise. An Austin College professor, noting the decline, sounded the alarm.

28–Well, about the same time, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act, and the red wolf was one of the first species listed in the act. So, their first priority was to maintain the red wolf population where it was … even though it was down to almost nothing, and the coyotes were still moving in. The realized that was not going to work, so they decided, this last ditch effort–the only way we’re going to save the red wolf is by gathering them all up, putting them in captivity, with the hopes of reintroducing them in the wild.

Researchers had their work cut out for them, as the wolves and coyotes had interbred.

19– Once they collected what they thought were red wolves, they had maybe 40 they were pretty sure were red wolves. Once they got rid of what they thought might be hybrids, they were down to 17 pure red wolves. Of those, 14 were used in the captive breeding program. So, all the red wolves we have today came from those 14.

Learn more when you read the December issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program program supports our series… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Leave a Reply