Tuesday, October 4, 2022

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Red wolves – once extinct in the wild – howl to the sky in beautiful rare footage

A photographer has captured incredible images of extremely rare red wolves in North Carolina. The video, which was shot by wildlife photographer Jennifer Hadley, shows a mother wolf and her two cubs howling in the sky.

Red wolves are the rarest wolf species in the world, with the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FSW) estimating that the wild population numbered only between 19 and 21 individuals, as of July 2022.

Red wolves once roamed an area stretching from southeast Texas to central Pennsylvania. But today, they are critically endangered and can only be found in the wild on the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula, located in eastern North Carolina.

“They really are American wolves,” Hadley told Pleasemynews. “Grey wolves exist in all sorts of places all over the world, but not this one. They were and have been native to the United States.”

Red wolves are relatively lean, and their coat tends to be brown or buff in color, with a few black spots along their backs. In some places, the fur has a reddish tint.

These animals are smaller than their relatives the gray wolves, but larger than coyotes, weighing between 45 and 80 pounds and reaching a length of about four feet.

Red wolves mate for life and form tight-knit packs usually numbering five to eight individuals, which may include a dominant breeding pair and their offspring.

This species has a characteristic howl that resembles that of a coyote, but is generally lower pitched while lasting longer. Wolves use these howls to communicate with other vocalizations, body language, and scent marking.

Hunting and habitat loss had nearly driven the red wolves to extinction by 1970. But in 1973 the canid was listed under the Endangered Species Act and the FSW launched an ambitious program of recovery, which involved capturing the handful of remaining red wolves the agency could find in the wild and breeding them in captivity.

This breeding program saved the red wolf, which was declared extinct in the wild in 1980. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, dozens of red wolves were reintroduced to northern regions -eastern North Carolina. In 2012, the wild population peaked at around 120 animals, according to the FSW.

But after this peak, the wild population has declined significantly, mainly due to human causes such as shootings and collisions with vehicles, although there are currently over 240 red wolves kept in captivity as part of the conservation program. recovery.

Between 2019 and 2021, no new red wolfs were recorded in the wild – the first time this had happened in over three decades. But in April 2022, authorities confirmed a litter of six puppies.

“There is a significant conservation and reintroduction effort in the work of US Fish and Wildlife and it’s a great story of resilience and perseverance,” Hadley said. “I believe the conservation story is very important and comparable to that of the American condor or bald eagle.”

Hadley and her colleagues Cassia Rivera and Nancy Arehart recently released a documentary film titled Right of way to raise awareness to support conservation efforts surrounding safer wildlife corridors for red wolves and other wildlife in eastern North Carolina.

During another excursion to a remote part of Canada on Hudson Bay, Hadley also captured fascinating footage of a pack of gray wolves stalking and taunting a polar bear.

“The pack of 14 wolves had several pups and although there was no obvious food source they were guarding, I could see a few scraps of something lying around,” Hadley said in an Instagram post.

The photographer said it was highly unusual behavior for wolves to chase an adult polar bear in this way.

“They prey on cubs, but getting tangled up with an adult bear is very dangerous for them. A single blow from a bear’s massive paw would send a wolf flying and could cause serious injury or death.” , she said. “After about three minutes of persuasion and a total of seven wolves, the bear decided to turn around and head the other way, after which the wolves left him alone and returned to their pack. “

Hadley said Pleasemynews she did not realize at the time that what she had captured was an “extremely rare” incident.

Updated 9/16/22 5:38 PM ET with additional information

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