Red Wolves Suggestions

Any tips for sighting a red wolf in the Alligator River NWR area?  This has been a multi-year quest with many attempts each year.

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  • vnsankar

    I spent 3 days in Alligator River in late Dec last year and was fortunate to have several sightings of Red Wolves. All my sightings were in the fields along Long Curve Rd. The side roads were closed at the time of my visit, but would definitely be worth driving if open. From what I understand, sightings were better than usual during that period as the pack was spending a lot of time in the open fields along the wildlife drive. I don’t know if that’s still the case, but either way that’s the only area with open enough habitat to readily see them so I’d focus my searching there. I only saw Wolves early in the morning – go as soon as the refuge opens and try to be one of the first cars on the road. Drive Long Curve back and forth and regularly stop and scan out into the fields with good binoculars or a spotting scope; the wolves will usually be far away. Do not get out of the car and approach the animals on foot. Winter seems to be the best time of year as they display more diurnal activity then, and there is less vegetation. There are usually other “wolf watchers” around and they seemed generally helpful with advice… I found out during my visit that one of the wolf watchers I met does guide visitors to see wolves ( So she would be an option if you want to increase your odds of seeing a wolf with a guided excursion or have only a short time available. Can’t vouch for this service personally though as I did my trip independently.

  • Nathan Myhrvold

    I was at Alligator River over Thanksgiving (late November) of 2022. We had great sightings, along the same lines as what vnsankar says in the post above. As he says, Long Curve Rd is the place . At the time I was there one could drive on both Long Curve Rd and Bear Rd, and then another road parallel to Long Curve Rd on the other side of the fields. However the current map (link above) seems to show that being closed. In my case most of the wolf sightings were in the AM, but did see some in the PM.

    As vnsankar says, there are both curious visitors and more dedicated wolf watchers present. Some of them had a habit I found to be a bit obnoxious in that they would get out of their car, approach the wolves, take pictures then take out a shaker can and scare the wolves because “we don’t want them to get habituated”, but only after they got close and got their own photos.

    Sometimes the wolves would be 100- 200 yards away, but they would also come fairly close to the road, particularly if they were hunting. We saw and photographed one pouncing to catch a rodent. One person there told me that the reason 2022 was so good is that they mowed some of the fields – the fields to the east of Long Curve Rd would alternate between tall grass brush that was say 3 feet high, to some that were freshly mowed. Apparently, the mowing is done to help provide short grass areas for migratory birds to forage, but had the side effect that you could actually see the wolves. He claimed it was the best viewing in the 15 years he had been coming.

    There is info on the Red Wolf Recovery Program here .

    Besides driving Long Curve Rd, we also explored every other road that was open. There are some short trails – Creef Cut Wildlife Trail, and Sandy Ridge Wildlife Trail which we walked, and saw black racer snake, turtles and quite a few birds.

    One somewhat odd thing (to me anyway) is that there were also people hunting – the ones I saw appeared to be bird hunting, but deer hunting is allowed, and in both cases they can use dogs. It seemed a little odd to have signs warning people to bother the wolves while there were other people on the same road with guns and dogs. This was also on Long Curve Rd. You’d think that the dogs would be risk to the wolves for lots of reasons. It also seemed a little odd to say that photographers should not get out of their car, but if you had a gun you could. But at the same time it seems that whatever they are doing there is working because we saw plenty of wolves.

    Note that Alligator River has a lot of black bear sightings also – we saw 6-10 bears every day – usually far away but sometimes close by. The appropriately named “Bear Rd” was good for that, but we also saw them off Sawyer Lake Rd. I saw the largest most beautiful black bear I have ever seen there – and I have seen many in Alaska, Canada and the Western US. A locally based photographer I met there claimed that the Pungo unit of the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge had an even higher density of black bears (but no Red Wolves). It is about 63 miles from Alligator River, but I did not make it there on that trip.

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