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Nature Center Raising Red Wolf Pups, But They May Have No Place to Go if North Carolina Ends a Reintroduction Program

posted Apr 3, 2015, 11:05 PM by chloe owens

3/26/15, by Tim Orarzu, Times Free Press

Nature center raising red wolf pups, but they may have no place to go if North Carolina ends a reintroduction program

Two breeding pairs of captive red wolves could have pups in April…It's too early to tell, though, because pregnant wolves don't show a tell-tale bulging tummy. "It would be a big neon sign saying, 'I'm a slower, weaker animal,”…"In the wild, the name of the game is not to be weak." If wolf pups are born in Chattanooga…they could be snuck into a wolf's den in North Carolina to be raised among the world's only wild, free-ranging population of red wolves, possibly North America's most endangered mammal. Or not… North Carolina's Wildlife Resources Commission wants the federal government to declare the red wolf extinct and end the animal's reintroduction in five low-lying counties in coastal eastern North Carolina. Officials from the state commission, which regulates hunting and fishing, say the free-ranging red wolves reduce deer numbers, kill pets and livestock on private property and may not be genetically pure, since red wolves interbreed with coyotes…In fact, [he said,] hunting harvest figures show that hunters in North Carolina have taken more deer and turkey where the wild red wolves live… It may sound counterintuitive, but wolves can help deer populations by taking out the old, weak and sick, and by making them move around, preventing them from overgrazing in one spot. Ecologists call this movement the "ecology of fear," he said. "The ecology of fear states ... they've always got to be on the move," Hooper said. "There's definitely benefits of having predators on the landscape."