GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A Southeast native species of wolf is facing mass extinction.The red wolf has roamed North Carolina for many years, holding the title of America’s wolf because it’s only found in the United States.Now, the animal is estimated to have only 40 left in the wild.Animal endangerment specialists tell me this animal was hunted heavily in the 1900’s.Now, some of the top causes for endangerment include getting hit by cars on busy highways or getting mistaken for being a coyote – resulting in getting accidental shootings.Recently, in Tyrrell County, there was a case of someone poisoning a red wolf.Activists for the animals say this species of wolf is essential to the ecosystem because the need for predators is essential to its success.
The Cypress Moon Inn in Kitty Hawk overlooks the Albemarle Sound and in the distance, to the southwest, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, among the stomping grounds for the endangered red wolf.An Outer Banks resident for 43 years, Greg Hamby co-owns the inn with his wife, Linda. He welcomes the red wolves, which roam over their native land in six counties in eastern North Carolina, as his neighbors.“The red wolf belongs in the environment,” said Hamby, one of dozens of people who attended a public scoping meeting last week in Manteo. “What’s the big deal? They’re harmless to humans. They belong here. They have been relentlessly persecuted. They are owed a debt.”The US Fish & Wildlife Service hosted the meeting, one of two gatherings on the coast last week. The agency is crafting a revised recovery plan for red wolf, a process that has been complicated by opposition from some landowners, court cases to stop those landowners from killing the wolves, support from scientists, and conflicting messages from federal officials themselves.“We hope to make conditions better for both residents and the red wolves,” said Joe Madison, USFWS project leader of the Red Wolf Recovery Program.
A team led by University of Idaho researchers is calling into question a widely publicized 2016 study that concluded eastern and red wolves are not distinct species, but rather recent hybrids of gray wolves and coyotes. In a comment paper that will publish Wednesday, June 7, in the journal Science Advances, the team examines the previous study and argues that its genomic data and analyses do not definitively prove recent hybridization—but rather provide support for the genetic and evolutionary distinctiveness of red and eastern wolves.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold two meetings in eastern North Carolina this week to discuss the future management of the red wolf recovery effort. Residents who live in the red wolf recovery area, which includes Washington, Tyrrell, Dare, Hyde and Beaufort counties, are encouraged to weigh in on an environmental assessment focusing on potential changes to the management of red wolves under the National Environmental Policy Act. The Service is seeking comments and suggestions specifically on the appropriate size and scope of the non-essential, experimental population area, tools for population management, and strategies to address hybridization with coyotes. A public meeting takes place Tuesday at Mattamuskeet High School in Swan Quarter at 6:30 pm. Another is planned Thursday at 6:30 pm at the Coastal North Carolina National Wildlife Refuges Visitors Center in Manteo. Comments can also be submitted online at http://www.regulations.gov through July 24, 2017.
A disturbing trend has infiltrated not only the South, but the Queen City itself: coyote killing contests.Seen as offensive by many who would not otherwise object to hunting as a sport, predator derbies offer prizes to contestants who kill the most carnivores.In the case of the Carolina Coyote Classic, organized by Charlotte-area hunters, participants killed 51 non-problem coyotes. Awards given for the heaviest and greatest number killed.The science repeatedly makes clear that coyote control is counterproductive.Once an alpha coyote is shot, beta coyotes quickly breed and produce larger litters, which then separate and disperse. Coyotes can thus quickly stabilize, even when 70 percent of their population has been killed.
A sad, but hopeful update about the six red wolf pups born Friday at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham.During their first hands-on veterinary checkup this week, four of the endangered red wolf pups were found to be healthy. In the last few days, they’ve gained 20 percent to 35 percent of their body weight and are starting to make little squeaks.”They are robust and active with a strong sucking response and full bellies – all positive signs,” said Deborah Vanderford, attending veterinarian for the Museum of Life and Science, said in a press release.
DurhamThe Museum of Life and Science is howling with excitement — a critically endangered red wolf has given birth to pups for the first time at the museum since 2002.On Friday, April 28 the Museum’s 6-year-old red wolf gave birth to three male and three female pups. All pups and their mother were found to be in good health by the museum’s animal care team and are currently on exhibit in the museum’s Explore the Wild exhibit.Once a top predator throughout the southeastern United States and one of only two apex predators native to North Carolina, the red wolf (Canis rufus) is critically endangered with captive and wild populations totaling less than 300 individuals. The red wolves living at the Museum are a part of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Red Wolf Recovery Program as well as the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP), a collaborative breeding and management program developed by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) to ensure the sustainability of endangered animal populations.