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  • Florida Black Wolf: Extinct or Alive?
  • Kelly Quinn
  • Animal PlanetBlack WolfFloridawolfwolves

Florida Black Wolf: Extinct or Alive?

Florida Black Wolf: Extinct or Alive?

Florida Black Wolf

Hi There! Thanks for popping in to learn more about the Florida Black Wolf! Here are some of the questions that I will be answering about this awesome animal.
  • What is the Florida Black Wolf? Is it a unique species of Wolf? A subspecies of the Grey Wolf? Or is it a Coyote?
  • Why did it go extinct?
  • Can wolves be reintroduced to the Southeast?

There has been much debate among biologists on the taxonomy of the Florida Black Wolf but one thing is for sure... it existed, and lived throughout the lower southeast of the United States until 1908, which is when it was declared extinct.

Florida Black Wolf Painting
"Eve of the Wolf" 16" x 24" Digital Painting on Canvas - Kelly Quinn

Recounts of this animal are few, but the handful that still exists today point to a small framed, light-footed Wolf with large ears and a jet black coat, save for a patch or two of white on their chest and muzzle. They hunted in small packs like their northern cousins and typically were found in Pine Forests and prairie habitats, most likely hunting deer, and small game.

 

Florida Black Wolf AudubonCanis Lupus (American black wolf), 1845 - John James Audubon

 

John James Audubon was one of the two most credible resources that secure the existence of this species. During his trek through southern states in the 1840s, he painted a watercolor piece of a Florida Black Wolf galloping across a prairie hunting Bison (and yes, Bison lived in Florida way back when!). Along with the Florida Black Wolf, a Red Wolf was also discovered on this trip, which started the debate on whether the Black Wolf was a separate species from the Red Wolf or the same with a color variation.

 

Florida Black Wolf photographCanis Lupus (American black wolf) - Photograph - Unknown

In 1957, it was discovered by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (A ridiculously long name meaning a group of people who name species) that the Florida black wolf, along with the red wolf and Gregory's wolf was actually not related to any known species or at least the relation could not be proven. This invalidated all previous proclamations of the Florida Black Wolf being a species of Coyote or a subspecies of Red Wolf.

 

Florida Black Wolf Pack"Eve of the Wolf" - Close up - Digital Painting on Canvas - Kelly Quinn

The disappearance of the Florida Black Wolf is no surprise when you look at the perceptions people viewed wolves with. They were seen as dangerous animals who would hunt livestock, compete with settlers for wild game, and would attack the unsuspecting traveler. Sadly, what people of the time didn’t see was the curious personality, courageous spirit, and family oriented unit wolves represented.

 

Florida Black Wolf Eyes"Eve of the Wolf" - Close up - Digital Painting on Canvas - Kelly Quinn

They evolved over thousands of years to be the perfect predator and were persecuted for what came naturally. In the end, they were outcompeted by humans. People used more resources, leveled forests for growth and cattle, hunted game to feed growing populations, and actively hunted all predators, the Florida Black Wolf included alongside the Florida Panther and Florida Black Bear.

Thanks to the ESA (Endangered Species Act) Today, we still have a small population of panthers in the southern half of Florida (which still struggle daily for more space to support a growing population) and a growing bear population throughout the state. However, this act came too late for both the Red Wolf and Black Wolf in Florida. There are no longer any wild wolves in Florida but there is a program to start introducing the remaining hybrids of the old Red Wolf populations. This in itself is steeped in controversy because of their known mixed genetics with Coyotes.

Red Wolf - Lowry Park ZooRed Wolf (Canis lupus rufus) - Photograph from Lowry Park Zoo - Unknown

For the Red Wolf, maybe one day it will step foot in the pine forests of Florida again, but our Black Wolf is gone forever. Instead of mourning this animal though, we should see this as an opportunity to educate. Why are wolves important to an ecosystem? Why do they need to exist? And how would Florida benefit from the reintroduction of wolves as well as the connection of a Florida corridor throughout the state that would allow for panther populations to expand? How can ecotourism become Florida's largest economy?

There is much to cover, but if we, the people of this beautiful state, can forge a connection with our wild selves and understand why we need these apex predators in the wilds of Florida, then maybe one day we will deserve to hear the howls of wolves in the summer night.

What do you think?

  • Should wolves be reintroduced back into Florida?
  • How do you think wolves would affect the economy? (positive/negative)
  • Would there be negative impacts on people?

These are all relevant questions that we need to ask ourselves if we want to live a balanced life with nature, so your opinion is much appreciated! Thank you for reading, Sending much love your way!

-Kelly Quinn

  • Kelly Quinn
  • Animal PlanetBlack WolfFloridawolfwolves

Comments on this post (71)

  • Dec 13, 2021

    good information

    very useful words

    nice words

    — Miami Exotic Animals

  • Dec 05, 2021

    Not saying this is the extinct black wolf of Florida but today in the countryside near Paxton, Florida (village at Alabama/Florida state line) our friend, that owns 150 acres in the center of 600+ family owned (200 years of ownership) property, told us of two packs of wolves that live on that property. He has seen at least one up close and hears the packs at night. The one he saw in his field. It was black. He commented about seeing a wolf to the area UPS driver who confirmed seeing wolves in the area as well. The Florida Black wolf just may not be extinct after all!

    — Betsy Buehrig

  • Nov 23, 2021

    When I was in my younger teens I frequently hunted an area of central florida that was a really good ways back in the swamp at the edge of an old tree farm( this was in the 90s). I had a tree stand set up on a few acres of land my family owned, My brothers amd I would hunt there in the afternoon sometimes as it was a short drive from home but not the greatest hunting spots. I had hunted this same tree 10000 times before and never seen anything out of the ordinary. Shot many of deer and wild pigs out of this tree and heard many of weird growls and snorts back in those swamps when I was young and still had an imagination. But never saw any kind of wolf.

    At the time I had no idea what I was seeing but a fairly large animal about the size of a large German Shepard came sauntering out into the clearing under my tree stand. Now I say it was the size of a Shepard but in no way did it look like one. It had very long matted black fur and walked very slowly and softly through the woods. It wasnt as slender as any k9 but had a small head. Fur was way too long to be a bear and I had never seen any florida bears in this part of florida. The hair in places were almost a foot long and very matted. Solid black with off shades or dark brown.

    Was it a Florida black wolf? A skunk ape? A mal nourished black bear, or just a lost mountain yak in the swamp? I hope to never find out!

    — CRoush

  • Oct 30, 2021

    CORRECTED MESSAGE (microphone errors)
    I SAW A BLACK FEMALE WOLF AT THE WALMART IN FLORIDA CITY (parking lot) . It was around 10 p.m. and I say it was a female because I got close enough to see she was breastfeeding cubs. We thought it was a stray dog, it was dark and we had parked far away. The parking lot was pretty empty, I went to feed it, (thinking it was a stray dog someone had abandoned). As I got closer, the wolf stood her ground, turn her head and stared at me (same look and eyes as the picture on this article above!). When I realized it wasn’t a dog, it was a BLACK FEMALE WOLF, I told my friend to get back in the car and I slowly retrieved backwards, until I was able to get in my car. Reading the comments here, I am glad to see I’m not alone, the only one that have seen black wolves in Florida. They’re not extinct, THERE ARE WILD WOLVES in South Florida and in Florida all together. And THIS IS is DANGEROUS, for people and pets. Never mind the COYOTES that are now coming into the city (due to mankind eliminating their natural habitat for construction). They hunt and kill every small animal they can get their claws on. I already lost four stray cats that I was feeding for several years, and we lost twenty cats, disappeared, from four colonies that I was feeding for six years with my friend. Recently, my two neighbors lost two cats in the last two weeks. We don’t know if it was the wolves, or coyotes, or just simple wild dogs that killed them. But they’re sure gone oh, most likely dead. THIS IS VERY CONCERNING! We don’t have a place to turn to for help. What can BE DONE TO KEEP PRED6 AWAY?? from the city??

    SOMEONE SHOULD REALLY LOOK INTO THIS and RELOCATE THESE ANIMALS. I will do all I can to PROTECT my pets on my family. I’m looking for ALL OPTIONS and ALTERNATIVES. WOLVES, COYOTES and WILD DOGS are a MENACE to us and ALL small animals.

    Who can we contact? that WOULD investigate? and DO something about THIS??

    — Linda

  • Oct 30, 2021

    I saw a female black at 10 p.m. ended Florida City Walmart south from Homestead. and I say it was a female because I got close enough to see she was breastfeeding cubs. We thought it was a stray dog, it was dark and we had parked far away. The parking lot was pretty empty, I went to feed it thinking it was a stray dog someone had abandoned. As I got closer the wolf stood her ground turn her head and stare at me oh, that’s when I realized it wasn’t a dog it was a black female wolf. I told my friend to get back in the car oh, and I slowly retrieved backwards until I was able to get in my car. Reading the comments here, I am glad to see I’m not alone oh, they’re not extinct oh, they are wild wolves in South Florida at least for Florida all together. And this is also dangerous, for people and pets. Never mind the communities that are now coming into the city killing every small braids they can get their claws on. I already lost four straight cats that I said for years, and twenty cats have disappeared from 4 colonies that I was feeding also for 6 years. My two neighbors lost two cats in the last two weeks. We don’t know if it was the wolves or coyotes or just simple wild dogs. But he’s very concerning oh, I’m we don’t have a place to turn to for help. What can be done to keep this animals away from the city?

    — Linda

  • Oct 18, 2021

    I do not agree with trying to introduce a hybrid wolf to Florida. I’ve lived on the gulf coast for 53 years and have seen many changes that are sad; like every time I see another cow pasture given up to a shopping center or housing. But that is what has happened with overgrowth. I spent 23 years working at a Mom and Pop Marina in Tarpon Springs. I worked for a man who made his living on the waters. He was a commercial boat builder, fisherman, shrimper, sponger and more. A good family man, who respected nature. He is 90 yrs old now, still sharp minded and has more knowledge than anyone I have ever met. His work was not just a job but a passion; very few in life get to pursue. He wrote a book about his life experiences on the sea called " Extraordinary Voyage My life on the water…..and more By Wallace W. Ericson". He grew up in Florida and could tell you some stories, I’m sure. Anyway it seems to me that when man, tries to correct what happened in nature, It can have some huge drawbacks. These are large preying animals. Beautiful yes; but wild. Domestic and wild population of other animals could suffer as well as humans in close contact. There are plenty of coyotes here now. We even have them in our subdivisions. So where shall the proposed wolf live? And will they see and experience the pressure of survival in a landscape that is very different than that of their ancestors? Are we, in all our good intentions, playing with fire?

    — Pat

  • Oct 07, 2021

    It’s been about 9 years ago my husband and I coming home late one night, we live on 5 acres and see a very large black “dog” with a bushy tail cross our path on the driveway. It was running so it’s feet were off the ground, and was about as tall as our pickup truck. I’ve never forgotten this, people thought I was crazy, and this is the first site that people like me have seen this creature n Florida. I’m about 30 miles west of Orlando and my neighbors had alpacas at the time – this was the direction it was running from.

    — Kimberley Shetrone

  • Oct 01, 2021

    Saw a large black wolf running with a grey colored wolf on hiway 81 near Ponce De Leon Florida !

    — Steven McMahan

  • Sep 25, 2021

    I saw what looked like a black wolf running down my street at 4am a few days ago. I live in Indialantic, FL. I figured it was a coyote but then saw this thread and now I’m convinced it was a wolf. I told my husband it looked like a German Shepard which makes sense because these wolves do resemble them. I was in disbelief!

    — Vanessa

  • Sep 20, 2021

    I am convinced I saw a black wolf Saturday 9/18/21 standing in front of undeveloped lot in Palm Bay while delivering packages for Amazon at 930 pm

    — brandy Oliphant

  • Sep 07, 2021

    I found prints around my lake this morning that match a Florisa Black Wolf. I’m in Desoto County, Fl.

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  • Jun 23, 2021

    Hello amazing people! I am a wildlife conservationist and photographer studying the elusive Black Wolf. If anyone here is willing to share notes, it would be SO helpful. My email is andrev514@gmail dot com (sorry can’t type it normal on here.)

    — Andre Velez

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  • May 25, 2021

    Saw a giant Florida Black wolf run across the Sawgrass expressway in 3-4 leaps (its a 10 lane highway with very tall fences on either side and a huge concrete median) about 5 years ago near Panthers stadium. It moved like lightning and didn’t miss a beat jumping over the massive fences…
    The animal was huge, easily 3 times the size of a common Labrador dog. If the wolves from the movie Twilight were real, that is what I would compare it too.
    Pretty amazing to say the least!

    — Keith

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  • Jan 16, 2021

    Someone took a picture of an animal they are saying is a black wolf in Port St Lucie Fl

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  • Jan 02, 2021

    I seen a huge black wolf when i was walking home in naples florida it crossed the street about a 100 feet in front of me and went into freedom park on golden gate parkway this was about 8 years ago but he was huge his back was up to my chest im 5’7.

    — Benjamin thedford

  • Dec 15, 2020

    Jacksonville, FL, Avenues Mall area. On my way home this evening, a black wolf trotted across the residential two lane road that i live off of. The area is very wooded and we have plenty of wild life, so it didn’t strike me as strange. Also, we have caught shots of him on our game cam stalking the new born deers. When we first saw him appear, we weren’t sure. But after a few more visits, we became convinced. When I saw him tonight, it was 7:30. He crossed directly in front of my car so I got a great look at him. He’s black all over but the lower part near the belly, and the underside of his tail had some grayish brown tint (that wild animal mixture). I decided to look it up to see how common they are in this area. Imagine my shock!! With all these stories, it sounds like they may be making a come back.

    — Heather

  • Nov 26, 2020

    I live in West Palm Beach which on the south east coast of Florida. My friends neighbor swears he saw a black wolf early in the morning carrying a cat in its mouth just a few weeks ago. I didn’t believe him as I have been here over 30 years and have only seen Florida cats ,coyotes and bears for large animals in Florida. So, I decided to do some research and came upon this website. Maybe we have a Sasquatch situation on our hands? It Would be cool if they are back from extinction. Had two close run inns with the Florida panther, thank goodness it wasn’t hungry and kept going its own way.

    — E

  • Oct 19, 2020

    I have a completely black coyote or possibly but unlikely black wolf coming to my feeder daily in N. Fl. I wanted to get some others opinions on what he is and whether I should trap him or leave him be. I have a lot of good pictures from my cam. If anyone is interested email me ccatrett37@live

    — Chris

  • Oct 18, 2020

    On October 18th FLAGLER COUNTY FLORIDA OLD KINGS ROAD SOUTH, right at dusk (7pm)I saw a black animal crossing the road a 1/2 mile ahead of me. I sped up to get a better look. The area to my right was about 300 acres and the area on my left was a good size parcel of maybe 150 acres. After crossing the road he trotted along their edge of the woods parallel to the road and turned around twice before going into the woods. His ears were incredibly tall. His tail was much more bushy than a coyote. His overall color was black. Excluding his head and tail you could see red/ruddy/rusty looking blotches underneath the coat. This dog was small being maybe 15-20lbs. Nose was jet black. I’ve seen a number of coyotes but never in my life a black one. Then I read people thought they saw black wolves. I have seen a dead red wolf in Florida 4 years ago. Both this and last occasion I reported it to the FWC.

    — Josh Crandall

  • Sep 28, 2020

    Back in the early 1970s as a child i lived in duval county jacksonvile in an area known as southside estates. Nearby was skinners dairy and ranch. One morning i woke just at sunrise went to the kitchen and i heard anoise coming from outside. I was unable to see through the window there so i went into my room and threw the curtains open on to see what as of today was a florida black wold. there was on extreamly large one and 3 dog sized others with it. When the big one saw me it jumped onto the roof and bagan digging at the rock roof. the others ran to the glass and started jumping at me. i freaked ran to the parents room screaming my dad got to the window only to see the 3 small ones leaving he never saw the big one i tried to tell him the other was on the roof he chose to ignore me and go back into his room. It wasnt till today i decided to see if they were ever even here in fla. They were.! now given the fact that there was plent of wood there its quite possible they were hunting the livestock nearby and wandered into the neighborhood. anyway thats my story.

    — James Johnson

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