Red Wolf? at Pocosin Lakes NWR

While entering the Pocosin Lakes NWR, my wife & I spotted something off the road in a recently cut corn field. Our first guess, was maybe a coyote, but after photographing it and watching for a few minutes we changed our opinions and that this could be a red wolf. Very large in size, larger than any coyote that I've seen in person. It was very very early in the morning and it was extremely far away. Images are not the best in quality but I did what I could. All images were created before the sun came up, all were shot around ISO 6400 with a 2x teleconverter.

    {North Carolina is the only place in the world where you can find red wolves in the wild. They once roamed the entire eastern seaboard from New York State to Texas. Due to habitat destruction but most importantly killings, the species is on the brink of extinction. They were listed in 1973 as an endangered species. So in the 1980s the US Fish & Wildlife service gathered close to 20 pure red wolves and created a breeding program. By the late 80s there were enough wolves to be released. The area was in the eastern part of the state, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.} - {excerpt from previous post}  

After coming home, going through my images, I felt very confident in determining that this was for sure a red wolf. But to be safe, I email a some images to a few people and Kim a worker for the Red Wolf Coalition. Everyone thinks it could be a red wolf, but since the images are not extremely detailed and without any DNA we can't be 100% sure. After studying my previous images of other wolves along with images of well known documented red wolves, I can't help but think this is in fact is a red wolf. A lot of people who are against the red wolf program are quick to say its a coyote and/or a hybrid. Although it could be possible of either, I'm sticking with wolf. What do you think? Here are a few images.

If you follow my blog you will know that this wolf is now the third I've photographed in less than a year. The first two were located at Lake Mattamuskeet NWR. Through the woods, Mattamuskeet, Alligator River & Pocosin Lakes are very close and the wolves have ventured out and away from Alligator River.

I said this in the very first post about photographing my first red wolf and I'm going to say the same thing for this trip.

This was one of the most memorable experiences I've ever had while photographing wildlife. Definitely one of my bucket list shots. I've been photographing wildlife in the eastern part of the state since I was around 10, started pretty heavily around 2011. I will keep making my trips east & I hope I will see more wolves but their future is in jeopardy. We need to help them as much as possible. Here are couple links you can learn more about Red Wolves and you can donate to the Red Wolf Coalition. So if you're ever in the area, I wish you the best of luck & I hope you can have an experience like we did.

http://www.fws.gov/redwolf/redwolfrecovery.html

http://redwolves.com/wp/

"These images, are why I photograph. To help educate & inspire you to explore, respect and help create an appreciation of our beautiful world."  - Neil