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Red Wolf

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The Red Wolf (Canis rufus) is a mammal that is a member of the Canidae family and a close relative of the Grey Wolf and domestic dog.

Red Wolf

(Public domain picture from US Fish and Wildlife Service)

Hunting, habitat destruction and hybridisation with Coyotes has brought the Red Wolf to the brink of extinction. Three subspecies of Red Wolf are recognised. Canis rufus floridanus has been extinct since 1930. Canis rufus rufus was declared extinct by 1970. And finally, Canis rufus gregoryi, now focused on in wolf recovery plans, became extinct in the wild by 1980.

There are around 270 remaining Red Wolves; about 100 in the wild in North Carolina and 170 in captivity.

The reintroduction of the Red Wolf into the wild has created some scientific controversy as to whether it is truly a species of its own or simply a hybrid between other canine species.

In 1999 Brad White of McMaster University[?] and Paul Wilson of Trent University, proposed that based on new genetic evidence, the Red Wolf is a valid species that was not derived from Gray Wolf and Coyote hybridisation. These Canadian researchers also propose that the Gray Wolf ranging from Minnesota to Quebec is actually the Red Wolf and that this population be classified as the Eastern Canadian Wolf[?] (Canis lycaon).

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