Court stops coyote hunting in red wolf recovery area

According to a statement released today, May 14, by the Animal Welfare Institute, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction blocking the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s authorization to hunt coyotes – including at night – in the five-county region of eastern North Carolina inhabited by the world’s only wild population of about 100 endangered red wolves.

The Southern Environmental Law Center sought the injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina on behalf of the Animal Welfare Institute, Defenders of Wildlife and the Red Wolf Coalition.

“This is great news for the red wolf,” said Tara Zuardo, a wildlife lawyer at the Animal Welfare Institute. “Now we need to make sure that the Red Wolves have a future in North Carolina where they won’t be indiscriminately killed and have a chance to recover. “

Red wolves and coyotes have a similar appearance, so red wolves are often mistaken for coyotes even in daylight. Gunshot mortality is the leading killer of red wolves.

At least 50 red wolves have died from confirmed or suspected gunfire since January 2008. Since 2012, five shooters who have killed red wolves and reported the murders to authorities said they mistook the wolves for coyotes.

In 2012, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission passed the rule giving farmers, ranchers and private landowners the ability to control the destructive effects of coyotes and wild pigs, allowing them to hunt at night with a light on land. private. The rule came into effect in August of the same year.

The 17 commissioners in place have approved the rule that allows the hunting of coyotes and feral hogs on private lands. The only dissenting vote was cast by Hayden Rogers, who at the time was commissioner for District 9, which includes Buncombe County and much of western North Carolina.

In his injunction decision, Justice Terrence W. Boyle said, “By authorizing coyote hunting in the Five County Red Wolf Recovery Area, and in particular by allowing coyote hunting in all seasons and all year round. time of day or night, the Commission has increased the likelihood that a red wolf will be shot, a breeding pair will be dismantled, or a fictitious coyote will be killed.

“By designating the red wolf as protected and by devoting funds and effort over more than twenty-five years to a program to rehabilitate the once nearly extinct species, Congress has repeatedly demonstrated that it has chosen to preserve the red wolf – not simply to let inaction determine its fate – and it is not for this Court to authorize activities which would have an effect contrary to that objective. ”

Captive-bred red wolves were reintroduced on a North Carolina peninsula to their original range in the late 1980s after red wolves were declared extinct in the wild. Once common throughout the southeast, intensive predator control programs and habitat loss have wiped out populations of wild red wolves.


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