It’s always great news when a new baby animal is born, especially when they’re part of an endangered species. Each new birth is a sign of hope and another step towards repopulation.
While endangered animals are often born in zoos as part of conservation programs, it’s even more special when endangered animals are born in the wild.
Now, conservationists are celebrating after a litter of endangered red wolves were born in the wild for the first time in four years, inspiring hope for the species’ survival.
According to a Facebook post from Red Wolf Recovery Program, the litter of wolves was confirmed on April 18, born at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina.
The litter consists of six pups: four female and two male. They’re the first red wolf cubs born in the wild since 2018.
The Red Wolf Recovery Program says the proud new parents are known as 2225 and 2323.
“This red wolf pair was formed through the combination of several management actions and the two red wolves subsequently following their natural instincts in pairing, establishing their territory and mating,” they wrote.
According to the Wolf Conservation Center, the red wolf is considered a critically endangered species, with only 8 left in the wild in North Carolina as of October 2021. It is one of the world’s most endangered canids.
Once a very populous species in the US, the red wolf population dwindled throughout the 20th century, caused by habitat loss and predator control programs.
Since the red wolf was listed as an endangered species, there have been efforts to breed the wolves in captivity and reintroduce them to the wild. The species’ numbers peaked in 2006 with 130 wolves. But they faced further setbacks: according to the Washington Post, a state law allowing coyote hunting led to a number of red wolf deaths.
“The red wolf hit rock bottom as a wild species … right as humanity was heading into the depths of the pandemic,” Ron Sutherland, chief scientist at the Wildlands Network, told the Post. “The red wolf was nothing but a ghost of a species at that point, clinging to reality only by virtue of the 200 captive animals scattered in zoos across the country.”
But efforts to reintroduce the red wolf to the wild in North Carolina have now resumed, and this litter’s birth is great news for everyone involved in saving this species.
“When I saw the photo of those pups all piled up under some tree roots, my heart just about exploded with happiness,” Sutherland said. “And now, suddenly, I think they have a future again. Those pups can save their species, if humans do their job and if humans leave them alone.”
The Red Wolf Recovery Program called the birth “renewed hope for the survival of the species.”
“Every generation yields a new born hope for the red wolf…a cause for joy and celebration!”
What a great news! These adorable newborn red wolf cubs are a very welcome sign of hope for a critically endangered species.
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