Red Wolves: Hanging in the Balance
Gravel crackles under my tires and horseflies ping off the windows as I slow to a stop beside a mound of black bear scat, near the northeastern edge of North Carolina’s 152,000-acre Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. I turn off the engine and scan the dew-slickened pasture beside the road, hoping to see the flash of a cinnamon-colored coat. But other than the turkey vultures circling overhead, it’s still. Just as I’m about to start the engine, I notice some movement. In the distance, three dark blotches hover at the edge of a grove of loblolly pine. When I blink, the smudgy splotches sharpen into distinct shapes, a black bear and two cubs, ambling toward the road. I watch them for a moment, but they are not who I’m after. I’m looking for one of the rarest creatures on earth — the red wolf.