Red wolves on the decline

Red wolves only occur in the wild in eastern North Carolina. ©Robert Ondrish

The endangered population of red wolves (Canis rufus) could go extinct in the wild in as few as eight years without “substantial intervention,” according to a Species Status Assessment recently published by USFWS.

This report cites variety of factors that produce challenges for red wolf recovery. “In order of effect,” it says, “are gunshot, vehicle collision, health-related causes, intraspecific strife, private trappers, management actions, suspected illegal activity and poison.” These data come from a 2016 study published in the Journal of Wildlife Management, which suggests that 51 percent of anthropogenic red wolf mortality involved “foul play.”

Based on information available in a five-year review of the species, there are an estimated 44 individuals left in a “nonessential experimental population” that the USFWS maintains in eastern North Carolina. USFWS officials have estimated the red wolf program costs upward of $1 million annually. Red wolves are also kept and bred in captivity.

The red wolf will not be reclassified based on this review.

Read more on this issue from The News & Observer.

See The Wildlife Society’s Standing Position on Threatened and Endangered Species and Position Statement on the U.S. Endangered Species Act.