The only wild population of red wolves on earth is in a five-county area of eastern North Carolina where they were reintroduced. The population includes only 45 red wolves.
Environmental groups had contested the N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission’s management of the nearly extinct population, even filing a lawsuit to restrict coyote hunting in red wolf territory to avoid red wolves being mistaken for coyotes and shot.
The Wildlife Commission in turn questioned whether the red wolf reintroduction is a valid and worthwhile undertaking. So the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suspended the reintroduction program while conducting a feasibility study to that effect.
According to Defenders of Wildlife, the Red Wolf Recovery Team created to guide the study was a team in name only. The team has members who “seek to undermine red wolf recovery efforts at every turn” and is doing nothing to create “a scientifically-based plan for getting the red wolf back on track,” according to Defenders of Wildlife.
Fish and Wildlife, however, says the team is moving forward to come up with a scientifically based plan for the red wolf’s future.
“We will continue our committed work with this team and its members to chart a path forward related to the future of the experimental population of red wolves and the overall recovery program based on the best science,” said Tom MacKenzie, spokesman for Fish and Wildlife.