CAPE ROMAIN, S.C. (WCIV) – They once roamed throughout the Southeastern states, but now only approximately 300 red wolves exist today, with the majority of them in captivity.
Fortunately here in the Lowcountry, people have a chance to see the rare creatures at their new enclosure.
"We are all delighted to have them here," said Dan Ashworth, a refuge biologist.
Red wolves have been at the center since 1997, but for about a year the center has been without them for renovations of the living area.
The red wolves are sisters, and have been settling in nicely at Sewee Visitors Center.
The 4-year-olds came to the center Nov. 1 from Salisbury Zoological Park, in Salisbury, Md. This happens to be the pair's first time away from home.
"They left mom and another sister. So, it's been an adjustment for the two of them," said Patricia Lynch, the refuge visitors service manager.
Lynch said the wolves at the center allow visitors to observe and learn about the animals. The wolves now roam in a very a spacious open area. Glass panels allow for picturesque views, and benches gesture for folks to sit, relax and admire.
The two sisters have not been named yet, but Ashworth says they may offer a contest to help choose their names.
Sewee is one of 40 breeding facilities across the country and has played a key role in maintaining the genetic diversity among the population, Lynch said.
Cape Romain has always been significant to the recovery of the endangered Red wolf. Lynch said Bulls Island was the first island breeding site for the wolf.
"The Fish and Wildlife Service brought in two pair of wolves in 1976 and again in 1978. With the successful reintroduction in 1978, the recovery plan for the wolf was implemented," she said.
She says during an 18 year period, 26 pups were born on Bulls Island. These pups were then relocated at Alligator River, a wildlife reserve in northeastern North Carolina, and established into the wild population there.
Bulls Island's breeding program was closed in 2005, but that could come back.
"We are hoping to have a breeding pair here sooner than later," Ashworth said.
If you want to observe the feeding of the wolves, you can go to Sewee from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.