NORTH CAROLINA, USA — Five red wolf pups were born in the coastal region of North Carolina in April, the second year in a row that the endangered species was born in the wild, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) said.
The little pups were born during the second week of April within the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, according to the Red Wolf Recovery Program, an FWS program based in Manteo.
The litter — or a group of red wolf pups — is comprised of three females and two males. They were born to wolves identified as mother 2225 and father 2323, who also introduced a litter of six pups in the wild in April 2022.
Last year's births were the first in the wild since 2018, a remarkable achievement for a species currently considered endangered and once declared extinct.
In addition to the new litter, the Red Wolf Recovery Program said it fostered a male pup born at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington, into the litter weeks after their birth, bringing the family to a total of six pups.
"A cause for joy and celebration in 2023, much like we experienced in 2022 – every generation yields a newborn hope for recovery of the Red Wolf," the program wrote in a social media post on Wednesday.
According to the program, there are 15 known red wolves in the wild, but an estimate puts the count at 23 to 25, as of May 2023. There are 278 red wolves alive in the care of the Association of Zoo and Aquariums’ SAFE program.
The only wild red wolf population is located within five counties in Eastern North Carolina: Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell, and Washington.
For more information about the Red Wolf Recovery Program, you can visit its website.