Critically Endangered Red Wolves Making a Home in Colorado

by Sean Griffin
(Photo by Soeren Stache/picture alliance via Getty Images)

This critically endangered species is now calling southern Colorado home. A group of red wolves will now call the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center home.

The center is located near Highway 24 and Twin Rocks Road in Divide, Colorado. A local news outlet visited the center to meet the two new red wolves, Shawnee and Van Gogh.

The center is the only facility to house the rare species in the state. The 10-year-old wolves will spend the rest of their lives in southern Colorado, after they retire from a breeding program.

In the early 20th century, “humans wiped out most of the wolf populations in the United States including the red wolves. They were reintroduced in the 80s, that population has fluxuated over the years,” said Assistant Director and Animal Care Supervisor Erika Moore.

According to the center, only about 20 red wolves remain in the wild. Many factors contributing to the red wolf becoming endangered includes coyotes, car collisions with them, and unintentional poaching.

“Because humans are the biggest factor in why these animals are struggling in the wild, we feel in part responsible in helping them rebound back to their healthy populations in the wild and education plays a key role in helping people understand the animals,,” said Moore.

Wolf experts say red wolves are smaller than gray wolves, weighing between 60-90 pounds. The average lifespan of a wolf in the wild is about 4-6 years. However, in captivity, the lifespan can be doubled or tripled.

The remaining red wolves are in a wildlife refuge on the coast of North Carolina.

Rare Red Wolves Heading From Ohio to South Carolina To Prevent Extinction

One of the world’s rarest animals is coming to South Carolina, and residents will have the chance to see them at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet next spring. Three red wolves are coming from a zoo in Ohio to live new lives at Brookgreen Gardens. The move is part of an initiative to protect and revitalize endangered species in South Carolina and elsewhere.

Brookgreen will breed these rare canines for zoos and also for release into the wild in North Carolina and possibly in the South Carolina Lowcountry. There are less than 300 red wolves in the world, and most of them live in captivity, according to a report from The State. There are only about 21 living in the wild, with 10 collared for research and population tracking. The North Carolina red wolves are the only wild population left. The rest are in captivity because of the Red Wolf Recovery Program with US Fish and Wildlife.

“These animals are disappearing and if we don’t do something to help them, you’re going to just be looking at pictures or cadavers in a museum,” said animals curator at Brookgreen Gardens Andrea DeMuth. “You’re not going to be looking at the real thing.’’

Brookgreen Gardens was established in 1931 and is mostly known for its incredible gardens. But, there are animals on display as well. The red wolves will join alligators, eagles, otters, deer and so many other species native to the Carolinas.