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Court Ruling No Guarantee for Red Wolves

posted Apr 9, 2019, 8:35 PM by chloe owens

11/29/2018, by Catherine Kozak, Coastal Review Online

Court Ruling No Guarantee for Red Wolves

Even with a federal judge’s recent ruling in favor of conservation of red wolves in northeastern North Carolina, uncertainty remains whether reinvigorated management of the endangered species would be able to reverse course to save the world’s only wild population of the species – or whether the conditions exist to even try. Only two or three dozen red wolves still roam the swampy forests and farmland within the 1.7 million-acre recovery area in Hyde, Tyrrell, Dare, Beaufort and Washington counties, down from the peak in 2006 of about 130. About 200 wolves also live in captivity…Released this summer, the “Proposed Revision of the 10(j) Rule for the Nonessential Experimental Population of Red Wolves in North Carolina” would dramatically downsize the wolves’ range to land in Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and the Dare County Bombing Range in Dare and Hyde counties. Animals that strayed beyond that protected area could be killed. About two packs – 10 to 15 wolves – are estimated to currently live in the proposed range. Also, the proposed final rule would not restore coyote controls or release more captive-born wolves into the wild population. “The proposed rule will not in any way remedy the legal violations,” said Sierra Weaver, senior attorney in Chapel Hill for the Southern Environmental Law Center, or SELC, which represents the plaintiffs. “You can’t simply take away these management measures.”… Red wolves once roamed vast swaths of the southeastern U.S., but by the 1960s, predator controls, habitat loss and overhunting left the population decimated.  Listed as endangered in 1967, the species was declared extinct in the wild in 1980.  Some surviving wolves captured along the Gulf Coast were successfully bred in captivity for 10 years. In 1987, four pairs of pups were released in the Alligator River refuge, and within five years, there were about 30 wolves. At some point along the way, the recovery area was expanded to its current 1.7 million acres, encompassing public and private land in five counties. Before long, much to the surprise – and resentment – of farmers and other landowners, red wolves started wandering onto their property.