Red wolves were originally distributed throughout the eastern United States from the Atlantic Ocean to central Texas, and in the north from the Ohio River Valley, northern Pennsylvania and southern New York south to the Gulf of Mexico. The red wolf was nearly driven to extinction by the mid-1900s due to aggressive predator-control programs, habitat destruction, and extensive hybridization with coyotes. By the late 1960s, it occurred in small numbers in the Gulf Coast of western Louisiana and eastern Texas. Fourteen of these survivors were selected to be the founders of a captive-bred population, which was established in the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium between 1974 and 1980. After a successful experimental relocation to Bulls Island off the coast of South Carolina in 1978, the red wolf was declared extinct in the wild in 1980 to proceed with restoration efforts. In 1987, the captive animals were released into the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge on the Albemarle Peninsula in North Carolina, with a second release, since reversed, taking place two years later in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Of 63 red wolves released from 1987–1994, the population rose to as many as 100–120 individuals in 2012, but has declined to 40 individuals in 2018.