For Immediate Release, November 18, 2013
Contact: Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121
$12,500 Reward Offered for Information on Killing of Red Wolves in North Carolina
WASHINGTON— Following the illegal killing of two more endangered red wolves in North Carolina last week, the Center for Biological Diversity is adding $10,000 to a $2,500 reward offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for information leading to an arrest, criminal conviction or civil penalty assessment on these latest wolf deaths. This year eight highly endangered red wolves have been killed that federal officials have either confirmed, or suspect, were victims of illegal shootings. Last week a red wolf was found dead from an apparent gunshot wound, and in a separate location on the same day a red wolf radio collar was discovered with evidence that it had been cut off.
“Nearly 10 percent of red wolves living in the wild have been killed by poachers this year, putting the species on the fast track to extinction,” said Brett Hartl, the Center’s endangered species policy director. “The actions of a few ignorant, misguided criminals have severely crippled the recovery of one of the rarest animals in the United States and are denying the American people the chance to save and appreciate these amazing animals in the wild.”
Although once abundant along the entire coastal plain of the Southeast, after decades of relentless persecution the red wolf was pushed to the brink of extinction. By 1970 the population had declined to fewer than 100 wolves; many were hybridizing with coyotes because they were unable to find other red wolves for mates.
After the species was declared endangered in 1973 in a final attempt to save it, 17 wild red wolves were captured for captive breeding. Wolf releases began in North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in the mid 1980s, but recovery efforts have repeatedly been thwarted by illegal shootings. The population of red wolves in North Carolina has remained around 100 animals in the wild.
“We’re adding $10,000 to the reward in the hope that someone with information about these terrible killings will step forward,” said Hartl. “But we also need the Fish and Wildlife Service to step up its law-enforcement and outreach efforts to stem this surging tide of poaching.”
A reward of $21,000 was offered two weeks ago, by conservation groups and the Fish and Wildlife Service, for information leading to arrests or convictions on two wolf killings in late October.
Anyone with information on the deaths of these red wolves, or any others, is urged to contact U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Resident Agent in Charge John Elofson at (404) 763-7959; Refuge Officer Frank Simms at (252) 216-7504; or North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Officer Robert Wayne at (252) 216-8225.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 625,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.