The red wolf (Canis rufus) was considered functionally extinct in the wild by 1980 due to habitat distruction and systematic eradication from conflict with farmers. Red wolves recieved United States endanged species protection due to their dramatic decline. In 1987 a reintroduction effort was created after rounding up the remaining wild population and extensive captive breeding.
Protection of this species almost disappeared when morthological and genetic evidnce showed that the population of red wolves were actually a hybrid formed from extensive breeding between grey wolves and common coyotes (Canis latrans).
As more evidence and genetic testing continues, debate about the hybridization of red wovles and their level of protection also continues. Some evidence now shows that red wovles are actually an ancient species of their own, evolving along side the grey wolf, and only breeding with coyotes when they can not find a mate of their own species.