The State of Alabama comprises varied topography ranging from rivers, lakes and fertile flat lands. The land is also rich in a range of ecosystems. Ponds, meadows, forests, prairies and woodlands are just a few to mention. And also, the land is blessed with a warm and humid temperature all year round. But with the diverse ecosystem it has, are there wolves in Alabama?
The rich biodiversity of Alabama is known to host more than 4500 documented animal species. The many species are boosting tourism because many visit only to see the wildlife.
Are There Wolves in Alabama Wildlife?
No, there aren’t wolves left in the Alabama wildlife. It’s believed that wolves have become extinct since the beginning of the 19th century because native people of the state killed them. They did this through poisoning, hunting them down, habitat destruction and trapping them.
Wolves used to occupy some regions of the United States, like around the Great Lakes and some of the Northeastern parts. But since the 19th century, humans have been hunting them down nearly to extinction. Today, no natural wolves are found in the wild. Most of the found species are hybrid wolves where wolves are mate with dogs and kept as pets.
Although there are no wolves in Alabama, there are states in which they are present. They include Washington and Alaska.
Red Wolves in Alabama (Appearance, Habitat, Diet)
Like the other types of wolves, red wolves resemble some dog varieties like the German shepherd breed. The red wolves have tall pointed ears, broad muzzles, wide heads and, slender legs, long and with large feet. A red wolf is about 4 feet long from the nozzle tip to its tail.
They are also around 26 inches tall. When fully grown, a wolf can weigh between 40 to 80 pounds. As their name suggests, red wolves have red skin color on their ears, legs and head. The other body parts have a color range between light tan to black.
Red wolves mainly inhabit coastal prairies, forests, wetlands and mountains. They love creating dens along river banks, caves, hollow trees and sand knolls.
Being predatory animals, they feed on meat as their main diet. Wolves hunt in packs and can take down big animals like cows. They are also active during the night when most animals are resting and inactive. Animals that are inactive during the night are a great target for wolves. Despite taking down animals for their meat, wolves also feed on carcasses. In simple terms, wolves are scavengers.
Wolves in Alabama have become extinct because of their killings. Montana alone has killed over 273 wolves between 2021 and 2022. Across the United States, some people kill wolves as a hunting sport while others kill them for their skin. Also, others hybridize them with coyotes and their close relatives.
Are There Grey Wolves in Alabama?
There are no wolves in Alabama. All wolf species were extirpated by 1920. The native people of Alabama used to trap the wolves, poison them, hunt them down and even disrupt their environment.
In the other states where you’ll find wolves, they are at risk of hybridization. Some wolves are hybridized with dogs, and the hybridized species are used as pets. In natural settings, some of the wolves mate with coyotes, their cross relatives and give birth to a different species with some wolf and coyote characteristics.
The state government of Alabama and other states are trying their best to reintroduce wolves in their habitat. For the past few years, the Alabama government has been keeping red wolves in zoos to reintroduce them in the wild in the near future.
But the wolves have a higher chance of being unsuccessful in living in the habitat because most people own guns and may kill wolves because they are dangerous animals to coexist with.
Are There Red Wolves in the Wild?
Yes, there are red wolves in the wild. Red wolves across the United States are mainly found in eastern North Carolina. They are mainly found in the Albemarle Peninsula’s Dare, Beaufort, Washington, and Tyrrell counties.
Historically red wolves are found in eastern Florida, northern Pennsylvania and Texas. Red wolves love scavenging in lowland forests, wetlands and mountainous regions. You’ll mainly find them building dens near sources of food, like places with a dense population of deer.
However, their population is so small that they are almost becoming extinct. Environmental and human factors are causing their extinction. Forest fires have been disastrous by killing both wolves and animals that wolves predate. Therefore, breaking the food chain and causing the wolves to starve to death.
How Were Red Wolves Kept From Going Extinct?
Captive breeding saves red wolves from becoming extinct and is among the best practices for red wolf recovery. The red wolves’ release to the NC NEP from the SSP population helped increase the red wolf population, reaching a peak of 120 red wolves in 2012.
The red wolves are managed in different SSP facilities in the country as a single population. According to the scientist’s genetic management objectives, the red wolves are routinely transferred to different facilities for breeding. The genetic breeding process helps reproduce healthier red wolf species and increase their population.
Human interaction in the SSP facilities is minimized to reduce annoyance behaviors and support breeding, pair bonding, healthy pack structure and pup rearing. The red wolves are evaluated for their reproductive performance, genetic makeup, physical stability and behavior before being released into the wild.
By July 2022, approximately 243 red wolves in the different SSP facilities were present across the United States. Also, the breeding sessions between 2021 and 2022 created around 46 pups from 28 breeding, in which 29 pups survived and increased the red wolf population.
Where Can You Find Wolves?
Currently, wolves occupy different ecosystems, including the North Pole in the far north, Mexico City in Mexico, some States in the United States, and African savanna. They also occupy the temperate rainforest, Great Plains. Wolves and their prey are well adapted to survive in the climate’s conditions and habitats.
Most of the wolves are currently in Alaska and Canada and the northern regions of the world, mainly in Russia.
However, wolves are reducing in the mentioned regions because of the following reasons:
- Laws from the previous century to extirpate wolves
- Reduction of wolves’ habitat
- Reduction in animals in which wolves prey
- Conservation policies vary in different states
- Absence of enough knowledge about the wolves.
Currently, only two species are found in most regions of Africa, Asia, North America and Europe. The two species are the red wolf (Canis rufus) and the gray wolf (Canis lupus).
What Puts Wolves in Danger of Being Extinct?
People have been killing wolves for the last few years because they see them as pests like roaches and rats. Some are afraid of wolves, not knowing they get scared when they see human beings. Such people kill the wolves in fear of attacks. In reality, humans are more dangerous to the wolves than the wolves to the humans.
Also, wolves like a good habitat with a large land to scavenge. People have increased in populations and are turning into the wolves’ habitat and destroying it to create farms and even build houses for settlement. People have taken the land where wolves would breed, hunt and travel, thus contributing to their extinction.
Clearing the wolves’ habitat also enhances the disappearance of other small animals which wolves hunt for prey. Therefore, breaking the food chain and creating no food for the wolves to survive.
How Many Red Wolves are Left in the Wild?
The number of red wolves in the wild today is below 20 animals. Between 2002 and 2014, they left only 100 red wolves in the wild. But because of conservation practices, the number started increasing by 2015.
In 2012, they said that the population started declining because of the mismanagement of USFWS and the actions of some of the United States, like the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
The red wolf population had declined to between 25 and 48 animals by 2016. According to statistics, without the management facility practices, the red wolf population would have declined to fewer than 30 animals by 2024. But because of the SSP conservation practices, the wolf population has grown to over 100 animals.
Wolves are extinct in Alabama. The native people who occupied the regions in the late 19th century killed all the wolves in the region. It was because of the fear of attack because wolves are both a threat to humans and cattle.
However, the increase and decrease in wild animals are because of environmental and human factors. But human factors are the leading causes of extinction of some animal species like the red wolves.
Some State regulations allow the hunting down of wolves. Forest fires are also another great threat that kills not only the wolves but also their prey. Such a scenario breaks the food chain and even causes the starving of wolves, causing their death.