Red Wolf Population Dwindles as USFWS Dithers

Since a victory by AWI and allies in a lawsuit to limit coyote hunting in the red wolf recovery area (see AWI Quarterly, summer 2014), the US Fish and Wildlife Service has continued to sabotage its own once-successful red wolf recovery program, in apparent capitulation to a small, but very vocal group of individuals opposed to red wolf recovery.

In June 2015, the USFWS announced it would “suspend its reintroductions of [the] red wolf into the wild while it gathers additional science and research into the feasibility of recovery for the species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service intends to complete its review by the end of 2015.” In October 2015, the agency announced it was “progressing toward recommendations” and hoped to complete its review by summer 2016. As this issue goes to press, word concerning the outcome of that review has yet to emerge from the agency.

In June 2016, AWI and its coalition partners asked the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to stop the USFWS from capturing and killing—and authorizing private landowners to capture and kill—red wolves. In July, a petition with nearly half a million signatures was delivered to the USFWS, urging the agency to fulfill its legal duty under the ESA to recover the critically endangered wolf. The petition urges the agency to resume efforts to protect and bolster the wild population, now reduced to an estimated 45 individuals.

As the USFWS continues to abdicate its responsibility, AWI and allies will redouble our efforts to save the species.