News & Politics

Red Wolves: What You Need to Know

Washington's NFL team may rename itself for this very endangered species

A red wolf. Photograph courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

With the Red Wolves emerging as a favorite contender to replace the current name of the Washington NFL team, we wondered: What, exactly, are red wolves?

In short, they’re a very endangered species. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the red wolf was once common throughout the eastern and south central United States, but its population was decimated by over-hunting and destruction of habitat (as usual, nice job, humans). By 1980, red wolves were declared extinct in the wild, though some have been reintroduced from captive breeding programs. Today, about 40 of the wolves roam in North Carolina, and more than 200 live in captivity.

The animals aren’t really red—they’re typically brown, tan, and black—and they weigh up to 80 pounds. According to its website, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo does not have any red wolves on hand. However, it does have northern red salamanders, red river hogs, red siskins, and—who could forget?—red pandas.

For what it’s worth, we think the Fighting Northern Red Salamanders has a nice ring to it.

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Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She oversees the magazine’s real estate and home design coverage, and writes long-form feature stories. She was a 2020 Livingston Award finalist for her two-part investigation into a possible wrongful conviction stemming from a murder in rural Virginia. Kashino lives in Northeast DC.