Tuesday, February 3, 2015

North Carolina's State Wildlife Regulators Demand an End to Red Wolf Reintroduction Program

Red wolf

State wildlife regulators from North Carolina have recently called for an end to to the federal program of reintroducing red wolves in the state and remove all wolves that were released on private lands in Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell, and Washington counties. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission ratified two resolutions that noted failure to meet project goals, interbreeding with coyotes, and intrusion onto private lands as reasons to put a stop to the reintroduction program. The commission also indicated that 64 releases of red wolves by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service were destined to be done on federal land but actually took place on private land and thus were unlawful. The commission stated that the wolves and their offspring should be recaptured. Furthermore, the commission accepted short-term rules that will allow limited daytime hunting of coyotes in the five counties. This move resulted from a lawsuit brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center in favor of the Animal Welfare Institute, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Red Wolf Coalition. It asserted that the commission abused the Endangered Species Act by allowing coyote hunting in the five counties. As modified, the rules would allow coyote hunting from one-hour before sunset to one-hour after sunset on private land with permits available online in the future. The commission also approved the classification of red wolves as state-listed threatened species under the rules.
Red wolf walking

It looks like there needs to be a change in the approach of reintroducing red wolves back to their former habitat. Earlier when some were reintroduced, they must have interbred with coyotes. As a result, hybrids began to show up and this has led to a great deal of controversy directed at the federal red wolf reintroduction program and the practice of hunting coyotes in North Carolina. Currently, there are roughly 200 genuine red wolves being held in captive-breeding facilities across the U.S, including one in North Carolina's Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge west of the Outer Banks. But elsewhere in the state, there is a significant presence of coyotes and red wolf-coyote hybrids which are hindering further reintroduction of red wolves into the wild. In order to tackle this problem, it is crucial to thoroughly educate hunters and other residents about the physical differences between coyotes and hybrids before carrying out any hunts. This should involve careful study of the two species so that no mistake can occur. Furthermore, it is highly essential to eradicate coyotes and the hybrids from lands across North Carolina in order to make it easier to reintroduce red wolves back into the wild. The reason is because coyotes were historically not native to North Carolina. They were probably introduced by sportsmen in the past for the purpose of hunting but migrated in from border states and interfered with the early efforts of red wolf reintroduction. Therefore, these animals need to be eradicated significantly to prevent any further hybridization. In the meantime, captive-breeding facilities housing red wolves across the country must team up together to intensify captive-breeding of the last remaining genuine red wolves and help one another to achieve their ultimate goal. Methods to further increase the number of red wolves should include transferring a female wolf from one facility to another one where there could be a limited number of females to produce offspring. Lastly, when it comes to reintroducing red wolves in the wild, it is best to release them in national parks, wildlife refuges, and other protected areas in North Carolina and other southeastern states to avoid any potential conflict with the public. The fate of this magnificent species of wolf rests in the hands of researchers, wildlife conservationists, and the people of North Carolina.

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