Thursday, July 2, 2015

Red Wolf Reintroductions Suspended While Changes Contemplated

Red wolf

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has recently indicated that they will not reintroduce any more critically endangered red wolves in eastern North Carolina while they examine the usefulness of managing the only wild population of the species. The wildlife service's officials stated that none of the captive-bred wolves will be released into the wild and will continue to maintain the wild population which was recently believed to be between 50 and 75 wolves. An agreement on whether to end or correct the red wolf program has been anticipated for months as the government began to review the 30-year-old program to reintroduce red wolves into the wild. However, officials stated that they are still assembling information and hope to complete their review by the end of the year. Southeast regional director for the wildlife service Cindy Dohner indicated that it is possible that some people will say that the USFWS is avoiding carrying out recovery efforts for red wolves and at the same time there will be other people who might suggest the wildlife service is holding on too tight. One of those people is Sierra Weaver, an attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center based in Chapel Hill, who says that the government seems to be walking away from actively rescuing the wolves. Wildlife officials indicated Tuesday that they recently reduced their estimate of the red wolf population based on their tracking of the animals with radio collars, and not because of the major number of deaths. According to Pete Benjamin, the wildlife service's field supervisor in Raleigh, several wild offspring are born each year but the number pups differs. Earlier this year, North Carolina state wildlife officials asked the federal government to stop the program and declare the red wolves "extinct in the wild," alleging negative examination. They also stated that the wolves present problems when they roam onto private land. Conservationists, on the other hand, argue that the program has been successful and that the major threat to wolves is politics. The species' presence has been deliberated in courtrooms, at high levels of the federal government and in 48,000 public comments.
Red wolf howling

The reintroduction of the red wolf cannot remain stalled on the long-run. The population of this critically endangered species is hanging in balance as conservation groups struggle to make ends meet in successfully reintroducing it into the wild and reviving its overall population. But politics has long been hampering the efforts. The fate of the red wolf and its cousin the Mexican wolf is a conservation matter and not a political matter. Therefore, the federal government is to stay out of it. Another major issue that is also affecting the reintroduction of red wolves is the presence of coyotes in North Carolina. Historically, coyotes were not found in the state and were probably brought to the state for the purpose of hunting. Since their arrival in the 1970s, the coyote population swelled inhabiting every part of North Carolina including its eastern part. Eastern North Carolina is also where the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is located and one of the last strongholds of red wolves. Local people assert that red wolves are mating with coyotes and producing hybrids, which is another obstacle in reintroducing captive-bred red wolves into North Carolina. The state really needs to step up its efforts in eradicating coyotes and possible hybrids, in order to allow red wolves recolonize their former homeland free of natural competition. Furthermore, private landowners need to be thoroughly educated about the ecological importance of red wolves and encouraged to come up with safer alternatives in preventing the wolves from entering their property and threatening their livestock or pets. Livestock guardian dogs are the best solution in keeping red wolves and other wolves from infringing on people's property. This way, nobody would need to resort to using guns against wolves and prevent bringing farmers, ranchers, and private landowners into conflicts with wildlife officials and conservation groups.

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