Scientists find red wolves are a distinct species

A recent study on coyote genetics found red wolves are a unique species. ©B. Bartel/USFWS

While the federal government has been working for 30 years to recover the endangered red wolf (Canis rufus) in North Carolina, opponents argue that red wolves are more coyote (Canis latran) than wolf. But researchers recently put the controversy to bed after publishing a study in the National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine on the wolf’s genetics. The researchers found while red wolves have some gray wolf (Canis lupus) and coyote DNA, “the evidence … supports the classification of the contemporary red wolf as a distinct species.” The team also traced red wolves back to their ancestors from over 10,000 years ago. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission are now reviewing the study.

Read more in The Washington Post or check out the study here.