Friday, November 25, 2016

Red Wolves in South Carolina

Both the southern red wolf, and it's larger, heavier cousin, the gray wolf have a hard time surviving in the modern United States.  The red wolf was extinct in the wild since 1980 and efforts to bring it back haven't been very successful.  There is a captive breeding program at the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge just south of where we live and we made a visit at feeding time.

A large forested enclosure houses three wolves at present.  The manmade den at the left is connected to underground dens dug in the earth.  Opportunistic vultures sit atop the fences awaiting feeding time and swoop down as soon as the keeper brings in the food.  Today's dinner was boiled eggs served in the shell -- the white things on the ground.
At the back of the enclosure, in the sun at the center, is a red wolf. Mostly gray, they have a reddish brown tinge to their ears and legs.  

Wofman Rob loves to talk about the wolves he cares for.  He told us there are only about 250 red wolves left in the U.S., almost all of those in zoos and government facilities, and many of those the result of the breeding program here in South Carolina.

The red wolves face two problems in being returned to the wild.  One is the simple fact that they are wolves and man doesn't like wolves and the other is their propensity to interbreed with coyotes.  In fact, some people say there is no red wolf species left because there is not one that doesn't have coyote DNA, however dilute.

Wolfman brought out three huge panels of photos he has taken of all the red wolves he has had in his care.  He names each one and describes their personalities.  Two years ago the first pups were born at Cape Romain and Rob is emotional about letting them go to other breeding programs in the US.  
He's a man who loves his job and told us he considers it "an honor" to care for the wolves.


  1. So interesting! Didn't know about them interbreeding with coyotes, knew they did with dogs.

  2. He is to be admired. I didn't know about the interbreeding with coyotes.

  3. This is special to see the rare animals in such a rural surrounding.

  4. great creatures we have a lot of wolves in the mountains

  5. Rob is a kind man it seems, and there are many like him with wild animals.
    One becomes attached to animals when looking after them as we know.

  6. There should be more passionate people like him who care for our native animals.

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  8. This is amazing.. and the wolf man is doing such an incredible job..

  9. Once upon a time there was a very kind Wolfman! I can imagine like with your own pets it would be hard to let them go to other breeding programs.
    Hope you are having a lovely Thanksgiving week.
    Wren x

  10. Interesting - a dedicated man.
    Thankfully no wolves in Australia, just dingoes which are
    somewhat smaller but can be dangerous.
    Fortunately at Terrigal............NO WOLVES with 4 legs, probably
    some with 2 legs ??? More dangerous I suspect.