The Red wolf (Canis rufus) is one of the world’s most endangered canids. Red wolves are native to North America and once ranged throughout the Southeast United States including Florida. The Red wolf was designated as an endangered species in 1967.
Due to loss of habitat and human-caused mortalities, the Red wolf population nearly vanished when a managed breeding program was started at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in 1973.
The goal was to conserve the remaining Red wolves and increase their numbers. As a result of the success of these breeding programs, this species was reintroduced in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina in 1987.
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park will be highlighting Red wolves during the month of November. Special events and exhibits are planned that feature the endangered Red Wolves in the park’s Visitor Center and in the Discovery Center.
Red wolves weigh from 45 to 80 pounds, average about five feet in length from nose to tail, and stand roughly 26 inches tall at the shoulder. Red wolves are smaller than Gray wolves but larger than Coyotes. Red wolves are reddish-brown and buff-colored with black along their backs.
Today an estimated 50 to 75 Red wolves roam their native habitats in eastern North Carolina, and nearly 200 Red wolves are maintained in captive breeding facilities throughout the United States.
Today Red wolves inhabit a five-county area in Northeastern North Carolina. Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is a partner in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan Program (SSP). The Park currently has two Red wolves in a natural habitat along the Wildlife Walk. These wolves are a male named Jester and a female named Rose and are part of the breeding program.
The Park will present two special programs on Red wolves in November. The first will be on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. Park Services Specialist Andrea Junkunc will offer a program on The Endangered Red wolves. The program starting at 1:00 pm in the Florida Room of the Visitor Center located on US 19, and will explore the role of the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan Program and how we work with other agencies to help manage the Red wolf population by breeding and re-introducing Red wolves back into the wild. There is no charge to attend this program. Admission does apply for entry into the Wildlife Park.
A Wildlife Jeopardy program on Red wolves will take place in the park’s Discovery Center on Sat., Nov. 19, 2016 from 12:00 pm to 12:30 pm. Park volunteer Barbara Cairns will use a 20-question format that invites visitorsof all ages to test their knowledge about Red wolves, their cousins the Gray wolves, and Coyotes. Her goal is to have each person learn at least one new thing about Red wolves. Hand-outs will be provided. Park admission applies.
Displays on Red wolves will be on exhibit in the Park’s Visitor Center on US 19 and in the Discovery Center throughout the month. Special activities featuring this species will be available all month in the Discovery Center.
In other news at the Park, the Citrus Watercolor Club will be holding its Fall Show and Sale in the Visitor Center on U.S. 19 on Sat., Nov. 19 and Sun., Nov. 20, 2016. The club’s 150-plus members will be exhibiting original watercolors, prints. The Citrus Watercolor Club invites you to start your holiday shopping early. There is no charge to attend the show and sale. Twenty-percent of all sales are donated to the Friends of Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park, Inc. or park projects and improvements.
The Wildlife Puppeteers will present a puppet show on Sat., Nov. 19, 2016, starting at 2:00 pm. In the Discovery Center. The puppet show is entitled “This is your Life…Lu, the Hippopotamus.” The puppet play is based on the 1950s television show. Lu’s family and friends, past and present, join in celebrating his uniqueness.
November’s monthly bird walk on Pepper Creek Trail is scheduled for Sat., Nov. 26, 2016Experienced and novice birders are welcome to join the bird walk led by an experienced birder from Citrus County Audubon Society. Participants should meet at 7:45 am by the flagpole at the entrance to the Visitor Center on US 19. The walk starts promptly at 8:00 a.m. There is no charge to participate in the bird walk. To register for the bird walk, please call (352) 628-5445, ext. 1002.
We have a lot planned for November, and we encourage you to visit Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park to learn about the importance of preserving Red wolves. For more information on these events and exhibits, please call Susan Strawbridge at (352) 628-5445, ext. 1002.