GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A Southeast native species of wolf is facing mass extinction.
The red wolf has roamed North Carolina for many years, holding the title of America’s wolf because it’s only found in the United States.
Now, the animal is estimated to have only 40 left in the wild.
Animal endangerment specialists tell me this animal was hunted heavily in the 1900’s.
Now, some of the top causes for endangerment include getting hit by cars on busy highways or getting mistaken for being a coyote – resulting in getting accidental shootings.
Recently, in Tyrrell County, there was a case of someone poisoning a red wolf.
Activists for the animals say this species of wolf is essential to the ecosystem because the need for predators is essential to its success.
“They’re hunting the deer yes, but they’re also hunting small mesopredators that are like your raccoons or your opossum’s,” said Heather Clarkson, Southeastern Outreach Representative for Defenders of Wildlife. “They help keep foxes away, and it’s actually amazing to see what having that apex predator on the landscape will do for other animals.”
There are multiple red wolf recovery efforts underway to help save this animal.
Groups helping say if you come across a red wolf, it’s important to leave it alone.