POLL: Should wildlife officials maintain red wolf recovery efforts?

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Conservationists were already fighting an uphill battle to save endangered red , a grim picture for the future survival of this species.

These wolves once roamed vast portions of the southeast, but were essentially wiped out by the 1960s due to and predator control programs. In 1973, they were protected under the Act and the last remaining red wolves were later captured. In 1980, they were officially declared extinct in the wild.

Seven years later, red wolves, who were part of a captive breeding program, were released in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in – the only state where they exist today. Since then, their range has expanded to include 1.7 million acres, covering five counties in the northeast part of the state, but they’ve yet to make a meaningful comeback.

Photo credit: B. Bartel/USFWS

By 2001, there were believed to be 120 red wolves in the wild, but according to the latest five-year status review and species status assessment there are now fewer than 40 left.

Efforts to see them restored to the landscape have been controversial, drawing opposition from a range of stakeholders from private landowners to the state’s own Wildlife Resources Commission. Sadly, the FWS has also failed them by weakening the recovery program, stopping reintroductions, not dealing with coyotes (who hybridize with red wolves), issuing permits for them to be killed and not looking into illegal killings.

Human-caused mortalities have also risen significantly over the past few years to a point where red wolves can’t make up for the losses. They’re being shot, hit by cars, poisoned and threatened by other illegal activity.

The agency concluded in its review that without “substantial intervention,” they could be gone in as few as eight years.

“The population decline has been catastrophic, yet the Fish and Wildlife Service has not only failed to address that decline, it has actively contributed to it. The agency’s neglect in recent years may well spell extinction for wild red wolves,” said Sierra Weaver, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center.

While there is opposition to red wolf recovery, there is also widespread support for ensuring their future survival. Last year when the FWS asked for public comments on scaling back recovery, more than 55,000 people submitted one. Wildlands Network went to the trouble of going through them, and found that 99.8 percent of them were in favor of saving red wolves.

Now, more than ever red wolves need people to keep the pressure on, and to show support for stopping assaults on the Endangered Species Act altogether under the current administration.

For its part, the FWS is expected to complete a new recovery plan this year, and is expected to release an environmental assessment and alternatives for future wolf management for public comment this summer.

You can help by signing and sharing the petition urging wildlife officials not to abandon red wolf recovery efforts.

You can also help by checking out and sharing thousands of images of red wolves, and other wildlife they share their habitat with, that were taken by camera traps set up by Wildlands Network on Flickr.

This article was first published by Care2.com on 01 May 2018.

We invite you to share your opinion whether wildlife officials should maintain red wolf recovery efforts? Please vote and leave your comments at the bottom of this page.

Should wildlife officials maintain red wolf recovery efforts?

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Editorial Comment: The purpose of this poll is to highlight important wildlife conservation issues and to encourage discussion on ways to stop . By leaving a comment and sharing this post you can help to raise awareness. Thank you for your support.


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george mira

Of course red wolf should be assisted in recovery. A wea;lthy donor and several orgs are involved in restoring natural habitat in a wildway fromm Tallahassee to the Mississippi, and FWS recovery should be part of this effort. The whole lower Rio Brazos from Houston to Galveston has been subsided by oil and groundwater pumping. That area, historically home not only to red wolf, but also to bison , needs human abandonment – what media didn’t tell you last year was that many flooded areas are below actual sea level, and cessation of ditching both Mississippi and Brazos, would allow… Read more »

Steven Anderson
Steven Anderson

The de facto mission of the FWS is to cater to the wishes of hunting and fishing interests whether or not they are scientifically based. As all government agencies, they are subject to political pressure. They are generally underfunded for real conservation studies and programs.


The FWS is neglectful of its own ethos. FWS is a complete failure. Additionally, protection of the red wolf should be strengthened to ensure its prosperity and to allow for further detailed study of how to save an animal that is on the brink of extinction.

Tami Miller

Every animal deserves to be allowed a place on this earth. We need to stop taking away all their habitat.

Tonia Vassila