Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Feds plan to protect red wolves by increasing numbers in captivity, move N.C. population

Pocosin Lakes National Wild Refuge Red Wolf Education
and Health Care Facility in N.C. (Associated Press photo)
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday said it hopes to protect endangered red wolves by increasing their numbers in captivity, Darryl Fears reports for The Washington Post: "The move ends years of speculation that the government might abandon a 30-year effort to reintroduce the animals into the wild. The reintroduction project will be greatly restricted, however, and some wolves may be removed from the wild."

The agency said it can account for fewer than 30 wild red wolves with collars and about 15 more that are unaccounted for, making it impossible for the species to sustain itself, Fears writes. The plan is to double the number of captive wolves in zoos to 400. "To do that, the service will attempt to increase the number of mating pairs from 29 to at least 52."

"At the same time, the agency said it would remove isolated packs of wild red wolves from private lands in several North Carolina counties near where they were reintroduced and place them in a single county within the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge," Fears writes. "Some of the wild wolves would likely be placed in zoos to shore up the mating pairs."

Conservation groups, who favor re-introducing red wolves into the wild, accuse Fish and Wildlife of being bullied by North Carolina landowners to abandon that course of action, Fears writes. "Landowners and farmers in North Carolina have complained that the wolves are a nuisance, but few have proven that animals have killed livestock. Red wolves, like their relatives, prefer deer, which farmers also consider a nuisance." (Read more)

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