The conservation of red wolves has been an ongoing initiative for over 40 years due to the many threats affecting their population. Before their endangered species listing, red wolves used to roam freely across the southeastern United States, covering the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, central Pennsylvania, and even extending west to central Texas, southeast Missouri, and the Ohio River Valley. By the late 1970s, the range of red wolves had been reduced to coastal prairies and marsh habitats in southeast Texas and Louisiana due to habitat loss, predator control programs, illegal killings, and hybridization with coyotes.
Conservation for red wolves began in the early 1970s after their population range had drastically declined. USFWS implemented the Red Wolf Recovery Program in the 1970s and began trapping red wolves within the area to prevent further population extinction. In partnership with Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, they initiated a captive breeding program with 14 red wolves. Sadly, the red wolf population declined further due to human-wildlife conflict and other damaging threats. The population was declared extinct in 1980.