FWS decision dooms North Carolina’s red wolves

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released its plan for the future of the red wolf recovery program in North Carolina. Rather than confront the real challenges facing the effort to recover the world’s most endangered wolf species, FWS instead presented a roadmap for a disastrous retreat, announcing that it was going to try to save red wolves by pulling them out of the wild and forcing them into captivity.

The agency made a vague promise to look for new areas where red wolves could be released and work with stakeholders on future recovery efforts. However, FWS is paying lip service to wolf recovery if all it’s really going to do is relegate red wolves to spending the rest of their lives in zoos.

It’s been two years since FWS has actively managed red wolf recovery in North Carolina, but it is still stunning to see it all but abandon the program. The announcement was especially tone-deaf in light of the overwhelming public support for recovering red wolves in North Carolina, as a recent poll showed that over 80 percent of North Carolinians say the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should do everything it can to recover the red wolf and prevent its extinction.

Only about 45 wild red wolves remain in the recovery area. If FWS has its way, most of these wolves will be rounded up and put into captivity, leaving barely enough space for two remaining packs to survive in the wild on one single refuge and a bombing range.

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