In a reversal of a Trump Administration move, red wolves will continue to be protected in North Carolina, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced last week. This decision is connected to wildlife conservation groups’ ongoing court challenge of USFWS’ 2018 decision to abandon red wolf support strategies in a coastal North Carolina recovery area. Those strategies include continued releases of captive-bred wolves to bolster the wild breeding population, as well as protecting the wolves outside the agency’s shrunken protection area.
“This is great news for the wild red wolf population in North Carolina!” said the Red Wolf Coalition in a statement. “Red wolf management by the [USFWS] Red Wolf Recovery Program team will no longer be restricted to Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and the Dare County bombing range. Instead, this decision recognizes the Service’s authority to release additional wolves and to conduct adaptive management across the five counties of the Albemarle Peninsula — Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Tyrell, and Washington.”
The Southern Environmental Law Center represents the groups challenging the prior USFWS decision in court. Attorney Sierra Weaver said, “We’re pleased that the Fish and Wildlife Service is finally withdrawing its harmful proposal to remove protections for wild red wolves and drastically reduce their protected area. But the question remains: will the agency commit to proven conservation measures to save the world’s rarest wild wolves, including reintroductions?”