Canis rufus, the endangered red wolf species, has been the object of a restoration program in North Carolina for more than 20 years, and the experimental population now roams three national wildlife refuges, a military bombing range, and other state-owned and private property spanning some 1.5 million acres, according to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services statistics. More than 100 red wolves now roam their native habitats in this state, but that’s thanks, in part, to some 200 Canis rufus who are part of a captive breeding program around the country. And one of the 32 facilities participating is Asheville’s own Western North Carolina Nature Center.
The Charlotte Observer reports today on an $870,000 sliver of the $410 billion federal spending package passed last week, earmarked for the red wolf revival program. Sponsored by Rep. Health Shuler, some of the money is expected to find its way to the Nature Center, possibly to increase veterinary and quarantine facilities and capacity, according to the Observer‘s report. Some of the allotment, says the Observer, will also head further west—all the way to Washington State to help build a new breeding center near Tacoma.
“The Nature Center is not getting that full amount,” confirmed Debbie Ivester of the Asheville Parks & Recreation Department. “The breeding program is located at more than one facility. We do not know yet how much will be coming to the Nature Center. Our staff is working directly with Rep. Shuler’s office at this point,” she told the Xpress, but a determination has not yet been made.
— Nelda Holder, associate editor