On a recent night, about 75 adventurers huddled at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and looked to the starry winter sky. Then, they let out primal wails, hoping red wolves would answer from somewhere in the darkness.
The primitive call and response is dubbed howling safaris. It's become popular at the refuge near the Outer Banks now that the highly endangered animals over the past two decades have repopulated in eastern North Carolina.
The safaris, held weekly in summer and sporadically in other seasons, are limited to 100 people and require reservations.
Despite their comeback, the wolves still face challenges from humans. The Navy wants to convert 30-thousand acres in Washington and Beaufort counties into a runway where jets can simulate night landings on aircraft carriers.
Environmentalists say the landing strip would harm wildlife.