Press Release: Proposal threatens red wolves

A proposal by a North Carolina wildlife commission is a threat to the very existence of critically endangered red wolves, warns the Executive Director of the Endangered Wolf Center and its Director of Animal Care and Conservation. The Center on Feb. 3 issued the press release that appears below so that the public is aware of this sweeping and threatening proposal that could lead to the extinction of a species.

For further information contact Regina Mossotti, Director of Animal Care and Conservation, at 636-938-5900 or [email protected]

North Carolina commission’s proposal threatens red wolf recovery

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has asked the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to shut down the recovery program for the critically endangered red wolf. Specifically, North Carolina wants the only remaining wild population, comprised of a mere 62 red wolves, removed from their state. Their goal is for USFWS to end a conservation program that’s been in operation for over 30 years, and to declare the red wolf extinct in the wild.

redThe resolution comes on the heels of a thorough review of the red wolf recovery program by the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI), an independent organization that has conducted over 70 independent reviews of state and federal fish and wildlife programs. The North Carolina commission claims that the review found “flaws” in the recovery program and that they were the basis for their decision. Virginia Busch, Executive Director of the Endangered Wolf Center near St. Louis, called the North Carolina commission’s proposal “the antithesis of the WMI report.”

Busch said that “it could effectively usher in the end for the red wolf species. It would be an unprecedented loss to America’s natural heritage and landscape.”

In fact, contrary to the commission request, Busch points out that the WMI report asks not only a continuation of the current program, but for an expansion of the current program to include “additional restoration areas to provide redundancy and resiliency for the program.” There are currently a handful of additional restoration areas being considered for the program.
Tom McKenzie of the USFWS said they’re taking North Carolina’s resolution seriously.

Regina Mossotti, Director of Animal Care and Conservation at the Endangered Wolf Center, said that if the USFWS “follows through with this request, they will set a dangerous precedent that could negatively impact many endangered species.” A decision by USFWS regarding the future of the red wolf program in North Carolina is expected in March.

Red wolves once roamed the entire Southeastern United States but now can only be found in a tiny area on the coast of North Carolina. Red wolves are the only large carnivore that is solely native to the United States, meaning it cannot be found in any other country. Mossotti added, “If the red wolf goes extinct, it will be because American laws and practices were not strong enough to save it.” This American species is a vital component to keeping the ecosystem healthy.

About the Endangered Wolf Center
The Endangered Wolf Center in St. Louis, Mo., is the premier wolf conservation, education, reproduction, and research center in the United States. Its mission to preserve and protect Mexican wolves, red wolves and other wild canid species, with purpose and passion, through carefully managed breeding, reintroduction and inspiring education programs. The Center was founded in 1971 by Marlin Perkins and his wife, Carol. Perkins is best known as the host of the famed “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.”
The Endangered Wolf Center is an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) certified facility, and has been called a cornerstone of wolf recovery by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. It has been the birth site for over 30 red wolves, and many red wolves in the wild can trace their lineage back to the Center. For more information go to: www.endangeredwolfcenter.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. To follow what is happening with the wolves in the wild check out: http://www.fws.gov/redwolf/.