Wildlife Commission says no more red wolves
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has publicly denounced the red wolf reintroduction in coastal counties, calling for the red wolves to be rounded up — despite being the only wild population of red wolves on the planet.
Last week, the Commission adopted two resolutions: one requesting that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service end the red wolf reintroduction, and the second asking the agency to capture and remove all the wolves and their offspring that have ended up on private land.
It is the latest shot fired in an ongoing dispute over the endangered red wolf population along the N.C. coast. Previously, the Wildlife Commission was the target of a court case claiming nighttime hunting of coyotes in red wolf territory was detrimental to the endangered species.
Red wolves look like coyotes, and night hunting increases the risk of red wolves being shot accidentally, according to the court suit. So the Wildlife Commission was forced to rein in coyote hunting in red wolf territory, imposing limits and restrictions on when, where and how coyote hunting could occur.
But the Wildlife Commission continued to assert that shooting nuisance coyotes should trump concerns over red wolves and has now made its opposition to the red wolf reintroduction official.
In the resolution last week, the Commission said that the red wolves were interbreeding with coyotes and encroaching on private lands, and that the red wolf introduction in five coastal counties should end.
The Southern Environmental Law Center, which brought a lawsuit in 2012 opposing the Commission’s red wolf management, disagrees.
“Red wolves have lived — and thrived — on the current mix of private and public lands for 25 years, becoming one of the most successful predator reintroductions in U.S. history,” said Sierra Weaver, senior attorney with SELC. “Asking that the federal government declare ‘extinct’ the 100 red wolves that live in eastern North Carolina is a blatant attempt to remove from the wild one of our country’s most beloved animals.”
For its part, U.S. Fish and Wildlife released a 171-page evaluation of the program in November 2014 and is expected to release a decision on the program’s future early this year.
Meanwhile, the Wildlife Commission is accepting public comment through March 16 on the retooling of coyote hunting rules in red wolf territory.