What is a red wolf?
Two schools of thought exist. The most widely accepted position proposes that the red wolf is a distinct species of wolf, one that has been in North America even longer than the gray wolf. The second position maintains that red wolves are some sort of mutt or hybrid—part gray wolf, part coyote. With the increasing sophistication of genetic research, scientists are closer than ever to the answer. The position describing red wolves as gray wolf/coyote hybrids has been discarded by most experts. Support is now strong for the conclusion that the red wolf is indeed an ancient species that evolved along with the eastern wolf (Canis lupus lycaon, now thought by many scientists to be a third distinct North American wolf species, Canis lycaon) as a close relative of the coyote. This may be the reason red wolves breed with coyotes when they cannot find a mate of their own species, and gray wolves do not.

Are red wolves dangerous to people?
Red wolves are shy and elusive. They are, however, top predators. Potential danger lies in their becoming habituated to humans, particularly if people provide them with food. There may be wisdom in the cautionary statement that wolves should remain, to some degree at least, afraid of people. But as development erodes more wild land, wolves will be forced to live in proximity to humans.

Will humans develop tolerance for wolves and other top predators living in proximity? Can wolves and humans coexist?
As the world becomes more crowded, these questions will become even more relevant than they are now. The Red Wolf Coalition views these questions as organizational challenges. Can people come together and find ways to conserve our wildlife and wildlands heritage while at the same time recognizing and addressing human needs?

Do wolves reduce the number of game animals available for hunters?
That depends on whom you ask. Some hunters say yes. Others say no. The truth is that wildlife populations fluctuate for many reasons—among them weather, food availability, predation and the presence or absence of disease. “Balance” in ecosystems implies periodic “imbalance” due to all these factors. Wolf predation may indeed be one factor in reducing the number of ungulates (hoofed animals) in an area, especially if other factors such as a hard winter or low survival of young are present. But wolves and other predators do not destroy their food source. Their numbers, too, may drop when prey is scarce.

Should wolves be legally hunted along with other big game animals?
Some wolf protectionists say no. Many managers and hunters say yes—that wolves, if biologically restored, should be managed like any other big game species. Red wolf numbers are not yet stable enough or high enough for that to be a consideration.

Should red wolves be managed as an endangered species into the future? Are the costs worth the benefits?
Some people say yes, we should do all we can to restore endangered species, especially those that exist on the brink of extinction in the wild because of human activity. Other say no, as the result is not worth the money and human investment.

Should livestock growers be compensated for the loss of valuable domestic animals due to wolf predation?
Again, it depends on whom you ask. When a predator like the wolf has been reintroduced to a region by federal or state mandate, then many people support paying full market value for cattle, sheep, goats and poultry lost to wolves. But others say no, that such losses are the price one pays for farming or ranching in wolf country.