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Stop trying to eradicate red wolves in the wild

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Saturday, June 23, 2018

The red wolf once inhabited the entire area of what is now the southeastern United States, roaming from Virginia to Texas. By the early 1970s, this uniquely American wolf’s population had been reduced to a few animals living in the swamps of Louisiana, their backs literally against the sea.

Due to the heroic efforts of a few dedicated U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists, the remaining wild wolves were captured and a breeding program was launched so the species could eventually be reintroduced to the wild. In 1987 red wolves were reintroduced into the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. The animals flourished, growing from an initial population of eight to 151 over the next 20 years. The people of North Carolina took pride in hosting the first successful wild carnivore reintroduction effort in North America. 

Unfortunately for the wolves and the North Carolina citizens who value them, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has since played an instrumental role in seeing to the program’s decline. Instead of honoring the wishes of North Carolinians, the agency instead called for the extinction of the red wolf in the wild and has coerced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service into abandoning the management tools that allowed the red wolf to survive and thrive. Today, as a result, fewer than 40 red wolves remain.

Just as the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park has been a boom to tourism in Montana and Wyoming, the same could happen in North Carolina if the Wildlife Resources Commission would get its priorities straight.

It’s time for the people of North Carolina to demand changes to the composition of the commission and to ask the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reinstate their support for the red wolf. 

I urge your readers to contact the director of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Gordon Myers, and demand better. He can be reached by phone at 919-707-0151 and by email at gordon.myers@ncwildlife.org.  

Victoria Hagemeister 

Camden 

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