Of the many animals protected by the Endangered Species Act, there may be no other species more American than red wolf.
Known as "America's wolf," red wolves are the only species of wolf that live in the United States and nowhere else on Earth. These uniquely American mammals are featured in National Geographic Kids' January edition.
"Wolves have been on this continent as long longer than people have been on this continent," said Allyson Shaw, editor at National Geographic Kids. "When indigenous people were living on the land, they lived in harmony with the wolves. Many cultures had wolves as part of their religious system they respected them. It was only when European settlers arrived that we started to persecute the wolves."
With fewer than twenty red wolves in existence today. Thanks to the ESA -- established in 1973 -- the wolves now primarily live in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina.
The wolves have a bit of reputation problem, but experts say humans pose more of a threat to the wolves. Drivers mistakenly hit the red wolves with cars and landowners have shot wolves that wind up on property. The wolves mostly hunt small mammals such as raccoons, rabbits and rodents.
"Once you get to know the red wolves, you realize that they're really caring animals that love their families just like we do," Shaw said. "They're absolutely worth protecting."
In 2022, six wolves were born, a hopeful sign to conservationists that American's wolf will live on for generations.
National Geographic's January Kid's edition features many other animals saved and protected by the ESA over the past 50 years.
"We wanted to put all of these animals together and show kids something really hopeful and a good news story, and then include in that this story about red wolves -- where -- although they're protected, they still need more help."
Families can learn more about how to help protect red wolves and other endangered species in the newest issue of National Geographic Kids.
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