Letter: Time is running out to protect NC’s red wolves

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Our native red wolf deserves better! Here in the state of North Carolina, we are honored and lucky to have the Southeast’s last wild red wolf population. With only 30-40 remaining, though, the red wolf is on the verge of disappearing forever. [See “The Effort to Save Red Wolves in the Wild Is Failing, a Five-year Review Says,” April 25, The Washington Post].

The red wolf is not especially big, coming in at approximately 60 pounds. As an apex predator, it nonetheless is a necessary component of a healthy ecosystem and helps maintain balance by keeping the white-tailed deer and raccoon population in check, which benefits songbirds, turkey and quail.

Despite these benefits, the director of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Gordon Myers, has called for the extinction of the red wolf in the wild and would like to collect the remaining wild wolves and put them in zoos. Tragically, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is planning to do just that. This month, FWS said it intends to virtually abandon the recovery effort. It also plans to allow private landowners to kill any wolf that steps onto their property [See “It’s Open Hunting Season on Endangered Carolina Red Wolves if the Feds Get Their Way,” June 27, The Herald Sun]. This despicable proposal will absolutely result in the extinction of the red wolf in North Carolina and the greater Southeast.

We all must work together to protect our environment for future generations. This is a call to arms for all who care about wildlife and our natural heritage. The red wolf deserves a chance to succeed, and so does all of nature. It is an ethical wrong for us to sit back and do nothing. We must let FWS know how we feel about this issue.

Submit your public comment [by July 30] supporting the red wolf at regulations.gov. [Search under:] Type: Endangered and Threatened Species: Nonessential Experimental Population of Red Wolves in Northeastern North Carolina.

— Louise Kistler
Asheville

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2 thoughts on “Letter: Time is running out to protect NC’s red wolves

  1. Neil Hutt

    Well said, Louise! Thank you from the Red Wolf Coalition for this excellent action alert. BRAVA!

  2. james

    “The red wolf deserves a chance to succeed”
    The red wolf has had a chance to succeed, having had protected status since 1967 (6 years before the ESA even became a law) and active reintroduction/repatriation efforts in place in the Alligator River NWR since 1986. A short-lived reintroduction plan for Great Smoky Mountains NP in the 1990s ended when it became woefully clear that adequate food resources were not available there–in a protected natural area covering more than half a million acres, replete with abundant populations of “white-tailed deer and raccoons”, these dogs were starving to death. Soon after, alarms began sounding when it became known that red wolves were interbreeding with coyotes, effectively swamping their genetic identity and creating a population that is no longer truly red wolf. All of these efforts were undertaken in good faith and paid for willingly with public and private funds, but after more than 50 years it is clear that the efforts have failed.

    “We all must work together to protect our environment for future generations…It is an ethical wrong for us to sit back and do nothing.”
    Please don’t let misguided sentimentalism guide your rhetoric. The FWS and the state of NC have not been “doing nothing.” They have tried, at great expense, to make this reintroduction work. What they have decided to try now is not a decision made lightly. They understand the responsibility they have been given. The long-term project has failed, and now it is time to bring the remaining animals back under full protection until a new plan can be implemented. The only way to truly save the species from extinction is to get them out of the wild. If we leave them where they are, they truly will disappear forever.

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