Saturday, September 13, 2014

URGENT: Endangered Red #Wolves Need Your Help Today

Thu Sep 11, 2014
by wordwraith

Red Wolf - Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
Photo attribution: Becky Bartel Harrison - Red Wolf Coalition
The last remaining Red Wolves in the wild, on Planet Earth, some 90 to 100 in number, live in the 1.7 million acres of coastal swamp and forest of the Albemarle Peninsula in eastern North Carolina, which includes the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.  They were declared extinct in the wild in 1980. Biologists, through the success of a captive breeding program, were able to release four pairs into the Alligator River Refuge on September 14, 1987, almost exactly 27 years ago.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service has in the past described the program as one of the most successful endangered species reintroduction programs ever attempted. But Canis rufus unfortunately remains one of the most endangered canid species in the world.  Its biggest threat presently is the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the North Carolina Wildlife Commission. 


If you read my diary earlier this week and you're ready to submit a comment to the Federal Wildlife Service to help save the Red Wolf Recovery Program, now is the time and here is the address, because the public comment period closes tomorrow, Friday, September 12th.

                                                       FWS Press Release - September 12  Head your e-mail with something like "Support for Continuance of Red Wolf Recovery Program."  Informed, courteous comments are most effective. Please tell the FWS in your comment that you want the Red Wolf Recovery Program to continue with full support of state and federal agencies, and that you are requesting that the public comment period for this review be extended or re-opened for a month or more to give the public a true opportunity to voice their opinions and participate in this very important process. If you want to add reasons why you want the program continued, facts are provided in this diary below.
Comments do not have to be long. One or two sentences is fine! Your comment is most likely to be counted if it is sent through your own e-mail.
Here are some facts to help you write your comment, from Ron Sutherland of
1.  The red wolf program remains a good example of a successful reintroduction program. 2.  Pulling the wolves after 27 years would be a reckless and irresponsible move by US FWS, a knee-jerk response to political pressure that has been applied by only a handful of outspoken landowners (the most prominent is Jett Ferebee, a wealthy real estate developer from Greenville, NC).
3.  After 27 years of red wolves, there is little evidence of any kind of collapse in wildlife populations on the Albemarle Peninsula (where the wolf recovery zone is). In fact, zooming into Tyrrell County, NC, where Mr. Ferebee has his farm, the total deer harvest has risen 375% since the start of the red wolf program in 1987! Anecdotal evidence suggests abundant populations of wild turkey and quail are also found in the red wolf recovery zone.
4.  The wolves have been suffering high levels of gunshot mortality in recent years, making the problem of competition/hybridization with coyotes worse. But the proper government response is not to pull the wolves, it is to solve the crime of who is shooting these highly endangered animals.
5.  Rather than cancel the program, the USFWS should be actively working to enhance and protect the existing population in eastern NC, and proceeding with needed steps to establish at least two new wild populations of wolves as called for by the Red Wolf Recovery Plan. The red wolf belongs in the wildlands of the Southeast, to protect our native biodiversity from the perils of overabundant deer and mesopredators.
6.  The red wolf is one of the most endangered wild mammal species in the world, with only 100 animals in the wild population. Responsibility for protecting the wolf rests squarely with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and all US citizens should be allowed to voice their support for protecting this imperiled species.
7.  Trophic cascades suggest that the presence of red wolves and large predators can help control the East's exploding tick population.
Or if you need more convincing, then read on...
U.S. Fish & Wildlife has initiated a 60-day review of the Red Wolf Recovery Program, taking place outside the official review procedure required by the Endangered Species Act.  Their position is that because it's not the official five-year review of status as "endangered" required under the ESA, they did not have to give the required notices in the Federal Register.  The evaluation is to review the program "generally," focusing on "management of the experimental population of red wolves in Eastern North Carolina to inform future management decisions."  Their strategy, given that they are holding public meetings only directly adjacent to the recovery area, is to heavily weight input from local people, discounting input from every American citizen who doesn't live in the recovery area, which is most people in the U.S.  In this area, there is heavy anti-government and anti-urban sentiment.  Officials have specifically stated that the evaluation will focus "on those most directly affected in Eastern North Carolina."  It is unclear at this point how much actual scientific input is being solicited or considered in the review.

Officials are responding to pressure from hunters, and from one wealthy landowner/developer in particular, who claim that the red wolves are hybridizing with coyotes and decimating wildlife on private lands.  There were no coyotes in this part of the state when the red wolves were introduced.  Some speculate that coyotes were brought in by hunters themselves, who used them in the (legal in NC) process called "penning," where a fox or coyote is confined in a pen with hounds to "train" the hunting dogs, and that some coyotes escaped.  By whatever process, coyotes have expanded their range into the eastern part of the state.  Biologists have responded by taking various measures to prevent hybridization.

The NC Wildlife Commission in 2012 passed rules allowing spotlight hunting of coyotes at night, including in the Red Wolf Recovery Area.  During 2013, nine red wolves, or about 10 percent of their total population in the wild, were killed by gunshot.  In May of 2014, all coyote hunting in the five-county wolf recovery area was halted by injunction by Federal Judge Terrence Boyle. Three months later, the current "informal review" of the Red Wolf Recovery Program was initiated, upon request by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, the NC Farm Bureau, and the NC Sportsmen's Caucus.

US Fish & Wildlife selected the private consulting group, Wildlife Management Institute, an organization oriented towards managing wildlife for sport shooting--its board of directors being officers of ATK Security and Sporting, Boone and Crockett Club, Pheasants Forever, and National Shooting Sports Foundation--to conduct the review of the Red Wolf Endangered Species Recovery Program. Leading the review for WMI is Jonathan Gassett, the former Kentucky Commissioner of Fish & Wildlife Resources, who resigned his position just months ago under cloud of nine ethics violations.

Some of us believe the Red Wolf deserves better than this, after being driven to virtual extinction across its entire range, and that the public expects and demands a transparent, ethically and scientifically conducted study of the program which allows time for public input. This hastily conducted, under-the-radar review begins under a cloud and remains there.  The US Fish & Wildlife Service is charged under the Endangered Species Act to prevent the extinction of the red wolf in the wild.  They are entrusted with this mission on behalf of all U.S. citizens who value our natural heritage and expect them to uphold the law in spirit and in practice.  If you agree, please take a few moments to send your comments to

This review process allows only two weeks for public comment, announced on the Friday beginning Labor Day weekend.  Tomorrow, Friday, September 12th, is the last day you can submit a comment.  PLEASE--the survival of this species may depend upon public reaction to this blatant scheme to walk away from the Red Wolf Recovery Program and to abandon the red wolves, once again, to the guns, the traps, and the poison of our brutal and shameful history in dealing with these animals.

Originally posted to wordwraith on Thu Sep 11, 2014

Also republished by Kitchen Table Kibitzing, PWB Peeps, and DK GreenRoots

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