The Center for Biological Diversity today added $7,500 to the reward for information leading to a conviction or fine in the latest illegal killing of an endangered red wolf in North Carolina. The dead wolf was discovered Dec. 21 on the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, where red wolves are given the greatest amount of protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already offered a $2,500 reward in the case.
“There are only 45 red wolves left in the wild so the deliberate killing of any individual wolf is a terrible blow to the conservation of this amazing species,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center. “This deplorable slaughter is a stark reminder of why federal regulators must quickly rejuvenate their stalled efforts to save this precious species before it disappears forever.”
Although once abundant along the entire coastal plain of the Southeast, red wolves were pushed to the brink of extinction after decades of relentless persecution. After the species was declared endangered in 1973, 17 wild red wolves were captured for captive breeding. Wolf releases began in North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in the mid 1980s, but recovery efforts have repeatedly been thwarted by illegal shootings.
“We’re adding to this reward because red wolves are a critical part of America’s heritage, and we shouldn’t let a few killers deny future generations their opportunity to see these animals in the wild,” said Hartl.
The best available science demonstrates that red wolves can be recovered if these illegal killings end. A 2014 report by the Wildlife Management Institute concluded that if red wolves are going to recover, two additional populations need to be established in the wild, and additional resources need to be invested to build local support for their recovery. The Center for Biological Diversity submitted an emergency petition in May 2016 to strengthen rules protecting red wolves from illegal shootings and to identify additional reintroduction sites where red wolves can thrive.
Anyone with information about the killing should contact North Carolina Wildlife Officer Frank Simms at (252) 216-7504 or Special Agent Jason Keith at (919) 856-4520, ext. 34.