Animals

Galveston to hold town hall meeting over “Ghost Wolf”, a mix of a coyote and a red wolf

Researchers estimate there might be around 50 of these wolves roaming the island currently.

Red Wolf Recovery
AP Photo/David Goldman, File
FILE – A red wolf crosses a road on the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, Thursday, March 23, 2023, near Manns Harbor, N.C. The endangered red wolf can survive in the wild, but only with "significant additional management intervention," according to a long-awaited population viability analysis released Friday, Sept. 29, 2023.

Galveston is holding a town hall meeting on Wednesday about a canid, a mammal in the dog family, with the genetics of the red wolf living on the island.

The "Ghost Wolf", as some residents are calling it, was first reported in 2022 by the New York Times. Researchers estimate there might be around 50 of these wolves roaming the island currently.

Suzanne Stone is the Executive Director of the International Wildlife Co-existence Network. She said the new species is a genetic mix between the red wolf and the coyote.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Association, the red wolf was declared extinct in the wild in 1980. It used to live in coastal regions from Texas to Florida, all the way to North Carolina.

"Even having these animals which are not completely genetically pure but have a higher percentage of the red wolf in them may end up helping us save the species, or certainly being able to identify a habitat where the species could be restored," Stone said.

Recovery efforts first started in northeastern North Carolina, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Association. Their recovery efforts led to nearly 90 red wolves re-introducing themselves to the ecosystem. The association says this was the first time a large carnivore had been declared extinct in the wild and then reintroduced in the nation.

"When I was an infant, my family had a home in the Galveston area," Stone said. "I learned how to crawl and walk and run on those beaches."

She said she was first inspired to pursue a career in wildlife preservation because of a red wolf she saw.

"I saw my first wolf in the wild in Texas in 1979 and at that time they thought pretty much that all the wolves were either eradicated or just so rare that they wouldn't survive," Stone said.

Ron Wooten is the citizen scientist who first discovered the Ghost Wolf in Galveston. He said he hopes the rest of the community will support the new breed.

"Every picture that people post here on the island of these animals sparks concern, it sparks curiosity,” Wooten said. “And we must give information to take away the concern and make it exciting, fun, enjoyable, and a learning environment."

The town hall meeting on Wednesday will be free and open to the public from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Moody Gardens Auditorium. Attendees can register online.

"We will discuss how these Gulf Coast canids are incredibly important to our understanding of the historic red wolf in the region," Dr. Kristin Brzeski with the Gulf Coast Canid Project said in a statement.