The red wolf, C. rufus, is a smaller species that varies in color from reddish gray to nearly black. It has been nearly eradicated from most of its range in the forest and brush country of the S central United States and is listed as endangered. However, captive breeding programs are slowly increasing its numbers, and some have been reintroduced to the wild. The red wolf is similar in behavior to, and may be a hybrid of, the prairie wolf, C. latrans, better known as the coyote. Smallest of the wolves, coyotes are still widespread in W North America. Real estate development in their traditional habitat, combined with the opening up of the ecological niche formerly filled by gray wolves and mountain lions, has prompted coyotes to greatly increase their range; they are now common in the Northeast and have developed small populations in large urban centers such as Chicago and New York City.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.