Since the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) approved a temporary rule in August 2012 to allow night hunting of coyotes in the state, at least nine critically endangered red wolves have been shot. This was entirely to be expected. Red wolves and coyotes are similar in size, coats, and coloring, so red wolves are frequently mistaken for coyotes, even in daylight. Gunshot deaths are a significant threat to red wolf recovery and a leading cause of red wolf mortality.
AWI, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Red Wolf Coalition took the NCWRC to court in October, when a preliminary injunction motion was filed on our behalf by the Southern Environmental Law Center. On November 21, the motion was granted and the night hunt halted in the five-county area of eastern North Carolina inhabited by 100 or so red wolves—the world’s only wild population of the species.
Though the temporary rule was suspended, an identical permanent rule could still go into effect if it is not blocked by the state legislature by mid-February. Should the legislature fail to act, we will again seek an injunction to stop the hunt, and subsequently file a federal enforcement action under the Endangered Species Act.