Friday, October 15, 2010

Federal Authorities Investigate Killings of Red Wolves in North Carolina

A red wolf

Federal authorities are currently investigating suspected shooting deaths of three endangered red wolves. The most recent killing occurred last week in Alligator River Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina's Dare County. Before that, two more wolves were found dead in Hyde County six months ago. These magnificent animals are being killed at an alarming rate in the perspectives of federal officials and wildlife conservationists. According to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, 66 wolves have died of gunshots since 1987 with more than half the deaths occurring in the past six years. In that same year, many were reintroduced back as a result of captive breeding by a red wolf recovery program.

Biologists estimate that between 115 and 130 red wolves exist today along the Albemarle Peninsula. Nine years ago, they identified that the biggest threat to the red wolf population is hybridization with coyotes. However, since 2004, 37 wolves perished; out of which 31 have been breeding pairs. That is, they were alpha males and females who constitute to the establishment of packs. According to David Rabon, director of the red wolf recovery program, many of these deaths result from misunderstandings in which hunters mistake the wolves for coyotes. In addition to that, he also believes that there are also people who are simply intolerant of these animals that were wrongfully thought to have a bad reputation as bloodthirsty killers. Similarly, Kim Wheeler of a nonprofit organization called Red Wolf Coalition states that people are ignorant of the wolves' protected status.

I'm deeply worried about the red wolf population to this day after these recent killings. But what is really shocking and provoking is the issues that have been resulting to this scale of mass killings over the years. And one of them has been mistaking these wolves for coyotes, which are completely different in terms of size, behavior, coat color, etc. I personally think that one way to minimize further reduction to the rampant slaughter of red wolves is education. This way, people will have a sense of understanding before distinguishing the difference between the two animals. However, there are also people who simply kill the wolves out of spite. They should also be educated and persuaded that wolves are not cold-blooded killers as depicted in folklore. But if some of these people turn out to be radicals who simply do not care about the wolves' existence, then they are the real criminals. They should be the ones stripped of their hunting licenses. Or better yet, face a year in jail and $100,000 in fines.

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