The red wolf went extinct in 1980 but was brought back thanks to a captive breeding program
Credit: Mark Colin/Getty

While some animals are swooping off the endangered species list, other creatures need our help now more than ever.

According the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), there are only 40 red wolves living in the wild. This news comes after the FWS released its five-year status review and Species Status Assessment on the animal native to the southeastern United States.

Every five years the FWS is required to conduct a review of the animals on the endangered species list to see if the statuses of any species need to be changed.

After looking at the latest data on the red wolf, the FWS chose not to change the animal’s endangered status.

This is the latest event in an existence full of ups and downs. The red wolf, which still isn’t designated as a true species, was first classified as endangered in 1967 under the Endangered Species Protection Preservation Act, the Endangered Species Act’s predecessor.

From there, the animal was declared extinct in 1980. Luckily, the FWS started a captive breeding program with 14 red wolves discovered near Texas and Louisiana in the 1970s. A small population of these wolves were released in North Carolina. This population, the only known wild red wolves in the world, has expanded to up to 130 wolves, but currently sits at a mere 40.

There are over 200 red wolves in captive breeding programs across the country. The FWS will continue to protect these captive animals and work to grow the wild red wolf population in hopes of removing the animal from the endangered species list.