Friday, September 30, 2016

Judge keeps feds from removing red wolves from private property in North Carolina

Red wolf recovery area (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service map)
A North Carolina federal judge has "temporarily restricted the federal government’s ability to remove red wolves from private property" in the state, Anne Blythe reports for The News & Observer. District Judge Terrence Boyle said "the government had failed to protect the wild red wolves that roam a five-county area in northeastern North Carolina. The order stops wildlife officials from removing red wolves from private property unless they can show the animals are threatening humans, pets or livestock."

Boyle wrote: “Following reintroduction, the wild red wolf population in the red wolf recovery area grew steadily, with a peak population of an estimated 130 red wolves in 2006 and as many as 20 breeding pairs in a given year. In November 2013, there were an estimated 100 red wolves in the wild with an estimated eight breeding pairs . . . In March 2016, defendants estimated there to be only 45-60 red wolves in the wild. Such rapid population decline has been described as a catastrophic indicator that the wild red wolf population is in extreme danger of extinction.”

Conservation groups had argued that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service "failed to protect the world’s only wild population of red wolves by authorizing private landowners to kill them on their land," Blythe writes. They also claimed that federal wildlife workers "have been capturing wolves and sometimes holding them for weeks or months before releasing them into unfamiliar territory where they are not with their mates and pack."

"Federal officials have proposed that beginning next year the wolves’ territory should be reduced to a federal wildlife refuge and adjacent land in Dare County, rather than the five-county territory where they currently are protected," Blythe writes. "Wildlife officials have proposed capturing and removing the wolves that stray beyond the refuge and Dare County." (Read more)

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