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Florida Boardwalk Animal Fact Sheet

Canis rufus

Currently extinct in the wild; historically ranged from southeastern to south central United States

More than 50,000 red wolves were killed in southern states between 1932-1964, as a result of a Federal Predator Control Program. In 1975, the last surviving red wolves, about 400 animals, were captured for a captive breeding program. All but 19 of these individuals were rejected as coyote/wolf hybrids. The remaining 19 were sent to the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington. In 1977, the first zoo litter was born. Plans are underway for reintroduction into Florida, outside the range of the Florida panther.

Red wolves do not form packs as other wolf species do. Little is known about communication between wild red wolves. The wolf's olfactory area is 14 times larger than humans, and their sense of smell may be 100 times better. Hearing is extremely sensitive. Wolves locate prey in three ways: 1) direct scenting, 2) chase encounter and 3) tracking. The digestive system of these carnivores is adapted to processing animal matter. The canine, incisor and premolar teeth are designed for tearing and shearing, and the rear molars crack and crush bone. Very little chewing occurs.

Habitat: Coastal plains, pine and oak forests, marshes and swamps
Diet: Prey species include nutria, muskrat, rabbits and rats
Status: Critically Endangered (IUCN)
Approximate Dimensions of Adult: Weight: 50 lbs.
Lifespan: 16-18 years in wild; 20 years in captivity
Reproduction & Offspring: Gestation: 61-63 days. Births: 3-4 young. Pairs seem to maintain bonds throughout the year. The young stay with the parents for the first year and, occasionally, for the second. Wolves may select a mate as early as one year, though breeding rarely occurs before 22 months.


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