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RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA – Illegal killings and longstanding political resistance have undercut the return of two species of endangered wolves to the wild, frustrating government efforts that already cost more than $80 million but have failed to meet recovery targets.
The number of red wolves roaming the forests of North Carolina has plunged to fewer than three dozen in recent years — the most precarious position of any U.S. wolf species.In the Southwest, a record number of Mexican gray wolves turned up dead in 2018, tempering an increase in the overall population to 131 animals.
With such small numbers in the wild, biologists say poaching has a big effect. Over the last two decades, more than half of Mexican wolf deaths and about one in four red wolf deaths resulted from gunshots or were otherwise deemed illegal, The Associated Press found.