Fish and Wildlife Service violates Endangered Species Act, threatening red wolves with extinction

On behalf of the Red Wolf Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife, and Animal Welfare Institute, SELC just notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for violations of the Endangered Species Act in connection with its policies and management of the endangered red wolf in eastern North Carolina, the world’s only population of wild red wolves. 

“The wild red wolf is teetering on the brink of extinction. The Fish and Wildlife Service has both the expertise and the legal duty to stop that from happening, yet it refuses to act,” says Senior Attorney Sierra Weaver, a national expert in wildlife and endangered species issues.

The wild red wolf population, which steadily grew from its inception in 1987 and consistently numbered over 100 wolves between 2002 and 2014, is now down to only nine collared wolves in the wild.

Several years ago, the agency triggered this catastrophic decline by terminating its previously successful management measures of releasing captive red wolves into the wild population and sterilizing coyotes to prevent hybridization with wild red wolves.

Now, it has adopted and bound itself to a policy actively prohibiting the release of captive red wolves into the Red Wolf Recovery Area in North Carolina based on an unfounded claim. The Service has also failed to resume adaptive management of coyotes in the recovery area.

The proposed reduction to a red wolf recovery area.

“With no red wolf pups born in the wild for the past two years, the Service’s current policies will lead to the extinction of America’s red wolf in the wild,” says Weaver.

USFWS is violating the ESA by failing to use its authorities to further red wolf recovery and failing to ensure its actions are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the red wolf in the wild.

Indeed, despite having been found in violation of  the ESA in November 2018 by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, the agency has gone on to commit further ESA violations over the past two years.

Learn more about wild red wolves, and hear them in the wild here.

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