Man-Made Extinction in N.C. – Red Wolf Survival in Jeopardy


Red Wolf

Red Wolf Survival in Jeopardy: How You Can Help Save Them from Extinction

The red wolves of North Carolina are the only wild example of their species on the planet. At a population of less than one hundred, their survival hinges on a critical protection program. That program, like the wolves themselves, might soon vanish into extinction—but your support can prevent that.

For decades, the job of protecting the critically endangered red wolf has been the duty of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Recognizing the need to maintain a healthy ecosystem for the survival of all—wolves and human beings alike—the USFWS began in 1973 to collect pure examples of the species to breed in safety, well away from the hazards of their crumbling environment and zealous predator-control policies. Once bound for certain death, the wild red wolves were then reintroduced into their natural habitat; that they exist now at all is a testament to the program’s success. But the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission was apparently unimpressed, and has successfully swayed the USFWS to halt the program indefinitely. As recovery efforts are stopped, the red wolf again slips into the grave.

Much of the opposition to the program has its roots in misinformation. One common misconception is that these wolves are a kind of wild mutt, not significantly different from the gray wolf, or the product of wolf-coyote couplings. Exhaustive scientific study, however, has shown that the red wolf, or Canis rufus, is indeed a species unto itself. Other opponents seem to confuse the red wolf with the similarly rusty-colored coyote. While the coyote is a genuinely destructive force, the red wolf is no real menace; complaints of the wolves “ruining” available game on private lands have proven untrue.

Red WolfStill others complain of the destruction wrought by coyote-wolf hybrids, or coywolves. But few seem to appreciate that to prevent such interbreeding, the USFWS has been regularly sterilizing coyotes to take them out of the equation. It’s a very smart program, and it could be working beautifully—except that some people, in their zeal, shoot these neutered canids dead before the program has a chance to work. Many of the same folks who criticize the recovery effort’s effectiveness are the same who mistakenly undermine it.

The campaign to end protections for the red wolf is based largely on an ignorance of the facts; sadly, this ignorance has thus far ruled the conversation. Reasonable voices must makes themselves heard, but time is critical. The Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to either end or continue these recovery efforts will arrive before the close of this year. If the program ends, the already endangered wild red wolves will be staring down death for the last time. With them will go the balance they bring to the ecosystem by picking off lame prey, leaving remaining game populations healthier and more robust. With them will go the joy many feel to help preserve North Carolina’s natural heritage, to be worthy stewards of Creation. With them will go our chance to have done right.

The practical gains of protecting red wolves are many; our moral duty to do so is immeasurable. Those who wish to help steer them from extinction must speak now. The imperative to save the wild red wolf is there—not just for their sake, but for ours.

What You Can Do:

Local Citizen Supporters

If you live in one of the five “recovery area” counties in North Carolina (Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell, or Washington), or operate a business that benefits from red wolf tourism, please sign this petition

National Supporters

Please write to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, using this quick and simple submission form

Learn more at The Truth about Red Wolves

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