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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Status of Listed Species and Recovery Plan Development

Red Wolf

Canis Rufus -- Endangered


JPG-Red Wolf     GIF-Occurrence map

Current Status:

Overall, the red wolf population stands at about 196 individuals, which includes captive animals. In Tennessee, nine wild wolves inhabit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Threats are posed to these wolves by potential interbreeding with coyotes.


The reintroduction of the red wolf to Great Smoky Mountains National Park began in 1991 with the release of four animals in the Tennessee portion. Subsequently, an adult female wolf and two yearlings were pulled back into captivity to pair with suitable red wolf mates. Two new family groups were released in 1992. Although the wolves were released into an area where livestock operations were present, only minor depredations have occurred. An educational package on the red wolf consisting of a 30-minute video tape, a poster, and a teacher packet was prepared and distributed to 800 schools in the area. The poster was judged by Urban Art International as one of the top 20 environmental posters at the national level, and the video received a Mid-south Regional Emmy Award. Public acceptance of wolf reintroduction in this area has been high. In addition to the red wolves at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a wild population of approximately 32 animals exists at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina. There are also three island propagation projects at Bulls Island, South Carolina, St. Vincent Island, Florida, and Horn Island, Mississippi, consisting of four adult wolves. About 156 wolves are located in 30 captive breeding facilities across the Nation, which include the island propagation projects. The first artificial insemination has been achieved.

Current Recovery Needs:

Close monitoring of the animals will continue, and problem animals will be dealt with immediately. Existing coyotes in the park will be radio collared and monitored. Expanding the wolf reintroduction project onto Forest Service land is desirable to increase the habitat base and help increase the population to a level less likely to be eliminated by catastrophic events.


National Park Service: This Federal agency has provided administrative support and manpower for the reintroduction project through funding provided by the Fish and Wildlife Service via an interagency agreement.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency: This State agency worked with the Fish and Wildlife Service on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park reintroduction in 1991. The Service will request the agency's approval to expand the reintroduction project onto Forest Service lands.

Tennessee Valley Authority: The Tennessee Valley Authority's Woodlands Nature Center at Land Between the Lakes became a captive breeding facility for red wolves in 1991.

Knoxville Zoo: This zoo became a cooperative captive breeding facility in 1991 and has one pair of adult red wolves. This facility successfully produced litters during both years it has been in the program.

Recovery Plan Status:

Original plan approved 7/12/82; revised 10/26/90.

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