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Originally the red wolf (Canis rufus) roamed as far north as Pennsylvania and as far west as central Texas. Like its relative the gray wolf, the red wolf was extirpated from its former range by large-scale predator control programs. By the late 1930's, only two populations are believed to have remained; one in the Ozark/Quachita Mountain region of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, and the other in southern Louisiana and southeastern Texas. Nearly extinct only a few decades ago, the red wolf has begun to recover with the help of captive breeding and reintroduction programs.
The red wolf derived its name from the reddish color of the head, ears, and legs. However, its coloring can range from very light tan to black. Weighing 45 to 80 pounds, the red wolf is smaller than the gray wolf and larger than the coyote. Also, the head is broader than the coyote's but narrower than the gray wolf's. The red wolf's most distinguishing features are the long ears and legs.
The exact identity of the red wolf has been debated for decades, with some authorities considering it a species, some considering it a subspecies of the gray wolf, and some considering it a hybrid, or cross-breed, of the coyote and the gray wolf.
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