In November 1986 four pairs of red wolves were flown from captive facilities to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in eastern North Carolina to begin their acclimation period prior to release. These first animals were reintroduced to the wild in September 1987.
As of June 30, 1996, the total red wolf population was thought to be between 242 and 296 animals. Fifty to 104 animals were thought to be living in wild reintroduction sites, 11 wolves on islands, and 181 wolves in captivity. The difference in numbers for the wild population is the result of two factors: 1) Biologists have lost radio contact with 20 wolves during the course of the program and they don't know if the wolves are still alive. 2) Some wolves have been seen, but not captured this includes pups from current and past breeding seasons.
Since the first release at the Alligator River in 1987, 69 captive-born red wolves have been reintroduced and 95 pups have been born in the wild. Eighty-five percent of the current free-ranging red wolf population at the Alligator River were born in the wild.
In 1991 a second mainland reintroduction site was established in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee. Since that time 39 captive red wolves have been released and 24 pups have been born in the wild in six litters.
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