Monday, December 23, 2013

Conservation Groups Call for a Ban on Coyote Hunting to Save North Carolina's Red Wolves

A radio-collared red wolf in a facility on St. Vincent Island in Florida.

It has been reported last week that three conservation groups in North Carolina have urged a federal court to put a stop to coyote hunting in five coastal counties, indicating that the practice is killing red wolves. News about alleged deaths of North Carolina's red wolves date back to mid-October in which five animals had been shot since, and only a cut-off radio collar of the sixth animal has been found. Rewards amounting to $26,000 had been offered for information about the shootings. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is known to allow an open hunting season on coyotes, which have flourished across the state in recent decades. The petition filed Monday asked that a U.S District Court judge halt coyote hunting in Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell, and Washington counties which include 1.7 million acres on the Albemarle Peninsula where about hundred red wolves roam free. Filed on behalf of the Animal Welfare Institute, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Red Wolf Coalition, it states that coyote hunting allows illegal killing of red wolves which are protected by federal law. Last month, the Wildlife Resources Commission denied violating the federal law and stated that its rules regarding coyote hunting are "in the best interest of the public, the environment and agricultural community." The Southern Environmental Law Center, which represented the three conservation groups, argued that the wolves are being mistakenly shot as coyotes and this is affecting the breeding success of the recovery program. The law center further added that five alleged shooters in the past two years stated they wrongly killed wolves thinking they were coyotes. According to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, eleven breeding pairs of red wolves have decreased to eight.
The coyote bears somewhat resemblance to the red wolf, but has a smaller stature and more narrow skull and snout.

This article is a clear wake-up call for the communities of North Carolina, indicating how licensed hunting has been hindering the breeding program in reviving one of the state's most iconic animals which also happens to be the most highly endangered species in the U.S. The red wolf has been suffering immensely in the hands of human hunters in recent times not due to persecution, but due to mistaken identity in which they are seen as coyotes. This year has seen fourteen red wolves having died due to this belief that they are coyotes and not wolves. Eight gunshot deaths were affirmed and two more were suspected. I very much feel that the U.S District Court judge should consider the evidence and facts gathered by the three conservation groups in order to put a stop to coyote hunting in North Carolina, otherwise the red wolf will be pushed to extinction as it did many years ago. Furthermore, I also feel that the people of North Carolina, especially those who feel concerned about the current fate of red wolves, should voice their concerns in order to provide support for these conservation groups in an effort to help save the wolves. A similar practice is being implemented by opponents who are against a proposal to strip the gray wolf of its federal protection. In addition, the efforts to revive the Mexican wolf populations in the American Southwest are also prone to various forms of hindering such as persecution from ranchers who simply do not care that these wolves are critically endangered. This why it is extremely crucial that the American public should consider the fate of the country's wolf populations, and provide its undivided support to conservation groups dedicated to keep the wolves safe from human-related harm.

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