Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 27, 2018

Contact: Perrin de Jong, (828) 252-4646,

Trump Administration Proposes to Allow Killing of North Carolina's Endangered Red Wolves

Plan Would Abandon Wild Red Wolf Recovery

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed drastic management plan changes that would allow the killing of red wolves, some of the most endangered animals in the world.

As few as 30 endangered red wolves are left in the wild in North Carolina, and the population could be just eight years from extinction. But the Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal would eliminate protections for all red wolves that wander off federal property and curtail the previous goals for range and population size.

This proposal follows the agency’s April report that identified deliberate killing by private residents as a primary cause of the species’ endangerment.

“The Trump administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service is declaring open season to kill the last of America’s red wolves, which are on the verge of extinction,” said Perrin de Jong, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity in Asheville, N.C. “The Service already turned its back on wild red wolf recovery when it stopped supporting introductions of captive-bred wolves to the wild. Now the agency wants to drive the last nail into the coffin for these magnificent animals.”

The Service’s plan proposes shrinking the wild population from as few as 30 existing individuals to fewer than 15 individuals. The plan would reduce the wolves’ target range from a five-county area to only the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and Dare County Bombing Range.

It would also authorize anyone to kill any wolf spotted outside of these federal properties. Those who choose to kill red wolves would not even be required to report these killings to the Service, unless the wolf was wearing a tracking collar.

In April the Service’s red wolf Species Status Review documented an increase in human-caused red wolf deaths through gunshot, poisoning and suspected illegal activity, which is a major factor in the wild population’s current decline. The April report also called for increasing the number of breeding pairs of wolves.

“Most people in North Carolina want more protection for red wolves, but Fish and Wildlife is throwing in the towel,” said de Jong. “Essentially the agency is proposing these terrible changes because red wolves in eastern North Carolina are a perceived inconvenience for coyote hunters. That’s despicable.”

Nearly all the public comments submitted to the agency this past summer support recovering the wild red wolf population in the southeastern United States. More than 98 percent of comments submitted by North Carolinians and 68.4 percent of comments from residents in the current five-county recovery area supported robust protection and recovery of red wolves in the wild. 

Comments on the agency’s proposal are being accepted by the Fish and Wildlife Service through July 28.

The red wolf is one of the world’s most endangered species and can now only be found in the wild in North Carolina. New evidence shows the wolves once roamed a larger portion of the United States than previously thought: from the southeastern U.S. west to the Edwards Plateau in Texas, north to the lower Midwest, including southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois and east into southern Pennsylvania and southeastern New York.

The best available science demonstrates that red wolves are still recoverable. A 2014 report written by the Wildlife Management Institute concluded that recovery would require reintroduction of two additional wild populations and an investment of additional resources to build local support for red-wolf recovery. Yet the Service has proposed confining red-wolf recovery to federal public lands, shrinking the animals’ recovery area from five counties in North Carolina to just one bombing range and one wildlife refuge in a single county.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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