DEC 29, 2016 07:13 AM PST

Saving the Red Wolf

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Unless something happens soon, the critically endangered red wolf will go extinct in the wild in a matter of years. Only about 40-45 red wolves survive in the wild, all within five counties in northeastern North Carolina. Once common throughout the southeastern United States, red wolf populations were decimated by the 1960s due to intensive predator control programs and loss of habitat.

Following the Wolf Conservation Center, in September 2014 the USFWS announced that it would be conducting a review of the red wolf recovery program in eastern North Carolina, per request of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), to determine if USFWS should continue, modify, or terminate the program that manages the last remaining wild red wolves on our planet. Two years later on September 12, 2016, USFWS published its recommended decisions in response to the red wolf recovery program evaluation. The agency's new rule proposes to significantly change the size, scope and management of the current red wolf recovery program. The rule includes USFWS's plan to pull the last wild red wolves from most of their range in North Carolina to put them in captivity. This remains a controversial topic, as many scientists feel that USFWS misinterpreted the scientific data.

The most recent update as of December 7 this year reports that "While USFWS, the very agency charged by federal law with protecting the endangered species, continues to review the program, it has halted all captive-to-wild releases. Also remaining on hold is a key management activity-the release of sterilized coyotes to prevent hybridization-that NCWRC had prohibited."

Source: Wolf Conservation Center
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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