Federal government drops proposal under Trump administration to reduce red wolf salvage territory

The male red wolf, transferred from St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, takes his first steps on the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. [Photo Credit: Running Wild Media]

The US Fish and Wildlife Service said on Friday it was abandoning a proposed change under the Trump administration that would have significantly reduced the endangered red wolf’s recovery area.

“Based on recent court decisions regarding the plan and after taking into account the public comments submitted in response to the Proposed rule of 2018, the Service has determined that removing the proposed rule is the best solution at this time, ”according to a press release.

Red wolves, native to the Southeastern United States, are now only a handful in the wild, scattered throughout parts of Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell, Washington, and Beaufort counties.

A government study published in March 2019 have discovered that the endangered red wolves that roam the counties just inside the Outer Banks are a unique species – not coyote / gray wolf hybrids as some have claimed.

Announced in June 2018, the plan would have reduced federal management of red wolves to Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and Dare County Bombing Range.

The settlement of a federal lawsuit announced in 2020 tasked the Fish and Wildlife Service to update its plan to save the red wolf by February 2023.

The lawsuit filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center challenged the failure of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in late 2018 to revise the 1990 recovery plan.

The Endangered Species Act requires the agency to prepare plans that serve as roadmaps to species recovery, identifying actions necessary to ensure conservation and survival, such as reintroductions.

According to a report from the center, five potential reintroduction sites have been identified that together could host nearly 500 breeding pairs of red wolves. All sites are on public land in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

The center also said the Fish and Wildlife Service had taken no action to reintroduce red wolves elsewhere and had stopped taking many measures – such as widespread sterilization of coyotes to prevent hybrid animals from harming the gene pool – which are necessary to conserve the remaining wild population. .

The withdrawal of the proposed rule in 2018 means that red wolves will continue to be managed under existing regulations. The Service noted that this will be clarified by the relevant court orders.

Management under the 1995 rule recognizes the service’s power to release additional wolves and conduct adaptive management. Within the ‘North Carolina nonessential experimental population ‘, the service will work with the North Carolina Wildlife Commission to implement coyote sterilization on federal and non-federal lands subject to written agreements with landowners.

The permitted take will be limited to the protection of oneself or others from potential harm, the protection of immediately endangered livestock or pets, and unintentional taking.

The service will continue to work with stakeholders to identify ways to encourage and facilitate a more effective coexistence between humans and wolves, through programs such as Prey for the Pack, and to establish the necessary support for conservation. of the red wolf.

The proposed rule that was published on June 28, 2018 to replace existing regulations governing the NC NEP designation of the red wolf under ESA Article 10 (j) will be withdrawn on November 15, 2021, when published in the Federal Register.

The proposed rule withdrawal, comments and additional documents are available at http://www.regulations.gov in file n ° FWS-R4-ES-2018-0035.

For more information on the Red Wolf Recovery Strategy, please visit: https://www.fws.gov/southeast/wildlife/mammals/red-wolf/.

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read more local stories here.

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