Wildlife officials in North Carolina say that a litter of red wolf pups was born this week, which they said is a "renewed hope" for the survival of the endangered species.
The Red Wolf Recovery Program, which is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announced Thursday the happy news on Facebook, saying that the new mom welcomed four female and two male red wolf pups.
Officials said this was the first litter of wolves born in the wild since 2018.
"This red wolf pair was formed through the combination of several management actions and the two red wolves subsequently following their natural instincts in pairing, establishing their territory, and mating," the staff said in the post. "Every generation yields a new born hope for the red wolf…a cause for joy and celebration!"
Wildlife officials said the pups were found in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.
NPR reported that the animals were near extinction due to hunting, extermination, and the expansion of cities and towns.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, red wolf breeding pairs increased from 30 during the 2020-21 breeding season to 38 during the 2021-22 breeding season.