Judge orders Fish and Wildlife Service to halt red wolf plan

A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to halt its plan to transfer the reintroduced population of endangered red wolves from the wild into captivity.

“This is a great day for red wolves and for anyone who loves nature in Eastern North Carolina,” said Sierra Weaver, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “The court was clear that it’s the Fish and Wildlife Service’s job to conserve this endangered species, not drive it to extinction.  The agency cannot simply abandon that responsibility.”

After nearly two years of study on the future of the reintroduction program, the Fish and Wildlife Service released a Sept. 12 report that concluded recovery of wild red wolf populations was possible only if “significant changes” to the program were implemented and outlined a plan to gather most of the population — estimated at less than 45 — from the five southeastern North Carolina counties where it roams and concentrate on bolstering captive red wolf populations. By October 2017, the report said, the Fish and Wildlife Service would determine more suitable locations for reintroduction efforts. Environmental groups denouched the decision.

The history of red wolf reintroduction efforts is a long and contentious one. Reintroduction was attempted in the Smokies during the 1990s but ultimately failed. The small population in southeastern N.C. is the only wild population in the world, and a cadre of environmental groups had sued the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission for its implementation of coyote hunting rules viewed as dangerous to red wolves, which look similar to coyotes and had been shot in cases of mistaken identity. The lawsuit ended with the parties agreeing to a series of limits on coyote hunting in the affected area, but afterward the Wildlife Commission asked the Fish and Wildlife Service to end reintroduction efforts and remove existing red wolves from private land.

That’s essentially what the Fish and Wildlife Service decided to do following conclusion of its study on the matter, but environmental groups took the issue to court. On behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, the Animal Welfare Institute and the Red Wolf Coalition, the Southern Environmental Law Center argued in a court hearing on September 14 that a preliminary injunction was needed to stop the agency from harming these native wolves in the wild.

Source: Judge orders Fish and Wildlife Service to halt red wolf plan

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Urged Not to Abandon Red Wolves

Adult Red Wolf

Courtesy of Hendersonville.com

Activists recently delivered nearly half a million petition signatures to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urging the agency to fulfill its legal duty under the Endangered Species Act to recover the critically endangered red wolf.

It’s estimated just 45 red wolves remain in the wild.

A total of 498,369 petition signatures were submitted in a petition drive organized by local North Carolina high school students Ben Z. and Alex T., the Animal Welfare Institute, Care2, the Center for Biological Diversity, Endangered Species Coalition and the Wildlands Network. The petition signatures comes a little over a year after the Service officially announced it was suspending red wolf releases into the wild… read more

Three Rare Red Wolf Pups born at Great Plains Zoo

Courtesy of Great Plains Zoo
Published: May 19, 2016, 12:10 PM

Great Plains Zoo Welcomes Three Rare Red Wolf Pups

Three Red Wolf pups were born at the Great Plains Zoo, the Zoo announced today. Red Wolves are a critically endangered species. The pups, all female, were born to mother “Ayasha” and father “Nayati” on April 10 and are now starting to make their first outdoor appearances.

The pups weighed less than a pound at birth and have grown to approximately six pounds each. The Zoo’s animal care staff monitored the birth through video cameras and continues to observe the new family. This is the third litter for mother Ayasha but the first for the pair.

“The Red Wolf is one of the world’s most endangered species with fewer than 300 individuals in existence today,” said Elizabeth A. Whealy, President and CEO of the Great Plains Zoo. “These pups are important not just to the Great Plains Zoo, but to the survival of the species as a whole. Thanks to the important work of zoos, we are able to use the Red Wolf as a success story for endangered species conservation efforts.”

Just like human newborns, the pups currently spend much of their time sleeping, eating and bonding with their family. The pups can now choose to be on exhibit, viewable by the public, at any time. The pups’ father, Nayati, can be seen daily in the Red Wolf exhibit.

Red Wolves were once common throughout the eastern and south central United States, but by the early 1900s, Red Wolf populations had fallen victim to predator control programs and habitat destruction. In 1980, they were declared extinct in the wild by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the remaining individuals were brought into captivity in an effort to preserve the species. Thanks to zoos working together through the Association of Zoos & Aquarium’s (AZA) endangered species breeding program, Red Wolves were brought back from the brink of extinction and were eventually reintroduced into the wild. Today, about 100 Red Wolves roam their native habitats in eastern North Carolina. The Great Plains Zoo has been a successful contributor to the AZA’s endangered species breeding program, breeding Red Wolves since 1993.

The Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last admission at 4 p.m. each day. Visit the Zoo online at http://www.greatzoo.org or call 605-367-7003 for more information about the Zoo and Museum.