Wild population of red wolves could be extirpated in North Carolina, government says | Best States
The only wild population of endangered red wolves has reached such terrible numbers that it is flirting with extinction over the next decade, according to a new federal study.
“The population cannot recover from its losses and overcome mortality, resulting in a constant decline in the population,” the journal says.
A medium-sized wolf colony, historically native to the South, was first introduced to the state in 1987. The small population of eastern North Carolina is joined by a captive population. about 200 wolves in zoos and nature centers across the country.
The service reported that the group’s figures were failing due to an increase in the number of human deaths – from gunshots, vehicle collisions, poisoning and suspected illegal activity. Environmentalists are trying to prevent gun killings of the red wolf, which they say is one of the most endangered mammals on the planet.
The Center for Biological Diversity, a national nonprofit conservation organization, called for immediate action to help fight the decline in numbers and urged the service to push for stricter regulations to thwart illegal shootings where wild red wolves roam.
“Time is running out for the red wolves. We must act quickly if we are to prevent them from disappearing forever,” Collette Adkins, biologist and senior lawyer at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “To begin with, we need immediate measures in place to prevent people from killing them.”
Environmentalists also argue that the decline is due in part to the negligence of federal officials, according to the Associated Press. Officials, conservationists say, have stopped releases of captive-born wolves and stopped efforts to increase their numbers through other efforts, such as sterilizing coyotes vying for territory.
A significant portion of the government’s review focused on the substantive debate over whether red wolves are a form of coyote, detailing genetic research and testing that has not found a definitive answer. Until such a response was obtained, the journal said the service would recognize animals as wolves, “since the scientific community disagrees on the issue of red wolf taxonomy.” .
The focus of the five-year review was largely to assess the status of endangered wolves, and the service said red wolves should remain protected under the Endangered Species Act. – a law recently attacked by Republicans in Congress. Ultimately, the service said more help was needed to ensure the survival of the Red Wolves. And conservation groups agree.
Without change, Adkins said that red wolves “face the very real possibility of disappearing from the wild if they don’t get the help they need.”
But that salvation might not come to North Carolina.
“With a single non-essential experimental population in the wild, additional populations are necessary for the viability of the red wolf and, therefore, its ability to persist in the wild,” the report says.