Archived Outdoors

Reward offered for information on slain red wolf

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering $5,000 for information regarding a federally protected red wolf found dead in Tyrrell County April 15. 

The wolf was shot in the spine, causing it to collapse on a muddy farm field. During a necropsy, the wolf’s lungs were found to be full of mud. 

“This killing was as cowardly as it was cruel,” said Ben Prater, Southeast program director for Defenders of Wildlife. “We hope that between this reward and one’s basic humanity, anyone with knowledge of this heinous crime will come forward to help us identify the responsible party.”

The world’s only population of wild red wolves exists in five counties in eastern North Carolina. The population is governed by rules established in 1995 that deem it an experimental, nonessential population. Landowners may kill a nuisance red wolf if it attacks pets or livestock, and a wolf killed incidentally to any type of otherwise legal activity, such as trapping coyotes according to state regulations, is not a crime — but must be reported to the Fish and Wildlife Service within 24 hours. 

As of October, the Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that the wild population included only 15-17 wolves, of which eight were collared. An additional 241 red wolves survived in captivity at zoos, nature centers and other facilities across the country.

While the red wolf population is severely endangered, considered by many to be on the brink of extinction, a glimmer of hope lit up the wildlife community this spring when a pair of wild wolves became parents to six pups, four females and two males. It was the first litter born in the wild since 2018. 

Anyone with information on the April 15 red wolf death should contact N.C. Division of Refuge Law Enforcement Patrol Captain Frank Simms at 252.216.7504 or Special Agent Jason Keith at 919.856.4786, ext. 34. 

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