Red Wolf’s new recovery plan requires public input

RALEIGH, CN— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released a revised version draft recovery plan for the red wolf, the most endangered canine in the world, following a court victory in 2020 from the Center for Biological Diversity. The plan proposes several beneficial actions the federal government should take, including establishing new populations and ways to reduce human-caused wolf deaths.

“After 32 long years, the Service is finally modernizing its recovery plan for the world’s most endangered canine,” said Perrin de Jong, North Carolina staff attorney at the Center. “The plan sets the tone by expanding red wolf recovery activities to several new populations. But much more needs to be done, and the public must push the Service to include specific sites for these populations so that critical recovery efforts can continue without delay.

The plan includes many beneficial elements, including a proactive vision of the federal recovery program for the species. It aims that in the future, wild and free red wolves will co-exist with humans in multiple populations across the species’ historic range. It also seeks to reduce current threats to wolves through conservation activities and to gain public trust and engagement.

It recognizes that new wild populations of red wolves are essential to the recovery of the species and sets the goal of having three viable wild populations in the future. However, the draft recovery plan did not identify any new potential reintroduction sites within the more than 20,000 square miles of suitable habitat that were identified in a 2019 report produced by the Center.

The plan further recognizes that addressing human-caused red wolf deaths is key to recovery. He identified numerous measures to reduce these threats, including public education and awareness, as well as physical security measures to reduce deaths from shootings and vehicle collisions.

“This project shows that the Service is moving in the right direction, but we need to keep the pressure on the agency to ensure new wild populations are established and the existing wild population is protected and strengthened immediately,” de Jong said.

Background

Last year, the Biden administration officially dropped a red wolf management rule proposed by the Trump administration that would have reduced the species’ protected range to 10% of the current size and legalized the killing of any wolf that wandered off federal lands. In early 2022, the Service officially recommitted to the success of the Red Wolf Recovery Program.

Red wolves were once abundant in the Southeast, but the species is now the most endangered canine in the world. Today, less than a dozen confirmed red wolves remain in the wild, surviving in five sparsely populated eastern North Carolina counties. This year, the first known red wolf litter since 2018 was born in the wild.

In 2020 and 2021, seven adult red wolves were released into the wild population. In 2021 alone, seven Red Wolves have been confirmed killed by collisions with vehicles, gunfire and unknown causes. Gunshots are the leading cause of death for wild red wolves, followed by collisions with vehicles.

Comments on the draft plan will be accepted until October 28 and can be sent to redwolf_comments@fws.gov.


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