Stronger Regulations Needed to Stem Illegal Shootings, Expand Where Wild Wolves Can Roam 

WASHINGTON— Conservation groups submitted an emergency petition today calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take immediate steps to bolster flagging protections for the world’s only wild population of red wolves, which has declined by more than 50 percent in just two years, to as few as 45 wolves. The decline occurred after the Service – responding to pressure from those opposed to wolf recovery –  deliberately abandoned wolf-recovery efforts and dramatically curtailed investigations of illegal wolf-shootings.

“Red wolves face the very real possibility of vanishing from the wild if they don’t get the help they need,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Sadly the Fish and Wildlife Service seems more concerned about appeasing a small minority of anti-wildlife extremists in North Carolina than preventing the extinction of these wolves.”

Recently obtained records via the Freedom of Information Act demonstrate that the Service’s red wolf biologists recommended strengthening protections by eliminating loopholes in regulations that have facilitated excessive illegal shootings of red wolves. As recently as 2013, the Service had considered following these recommendations and had even drafted new regulations. But the biologists’ recommendations were ignored, the regulations were never finalized, and the red wolf continues to suffer unsustainable levels of mortality.

Today’s emergency petition requests that the Service revise the current red wolf regulations in order to reduce red wolf shooting deaths, establish additional wild populations of red wolves, and reclassify all reintroduced populations of red wolves as “essential” experimental populations. Currently, wild red wolves are classified as “non-essential,” which severely limits the protections they receive under the Endangered Species Act.

“It is completely arbitrary that this lone wild population of red wolves, which was reintroduced almost 30 years ago, is still classified by the Service as a ‘non-essential’ species,” said Tara Zuardo, wildlife attorney with the Animal Welfare Institute. “The Service has turned its back on this species, and is undermining rather than bolstering red wolf recovery.”

The organizations that filed today’s petition include the Animal Welfare Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Endangered Species Coalition, the South Florida Wildlands Association, WildEarth Guardians, Wildlands Network, and the Wolf Conservation Center.

Learn more about the Critically endangered red wolf and the our efforts to recover them.

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Wolves once ranged across most of North America, a vital part of many varied ecosystems. But by the mid-1900s, an unremitting slaughter by humans had brought wolves to the brink of extinction. Red wolves and Mexican gray wolves survived only in captivity, their wildness caged. And the lands where wolves once roamed were diminished, as was our own relationship to the wilderness.

Today, with the support of American public and the safety net of the Endangered Species Act, efforts have begun to right this horrible wrong: to restore these essential creatures to their rightful places in our landscapes, in our hearts, and in our culture.

The frontier for wolves has always been the hearts and minds of humans. Can we learn to value America’s most polarizing predator?

There are signs of change.



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Pregnancy can be an exciting and magical time for parents but waiting can be excruciating for well-wishers! No pups yet for Mexican wolves F1226 and M1133, but F1226 recently plucked the hair from her big belly – a custom for expectant mothers when preparing for pups.

The WCC is one of 54 facilities in the U.S. and Mexico participating in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) – a bi-national initiative whose primary purpose is to support the reestablishment of Mexican wolves in the wild through captive breeding, public education, and research.

The Mexican wolf SSP management group for the Mexican gray wolf determines which wolves should be bred each year by using software developed for the population management of endangered species. This is necessary because all Mexican wolves descended from just 7 founders rescued from extinction. Genetic diversity is the primary consideration in the selection of Mexican wolf breeding pairs and M1133 and F1226 are a great match on paper with an extremely low inbreeding coefficient.

Sometimes saving a species isn’t very romantic, but it turns out that F1226 and M1133 are a vibrant, loving, and playful pair that make it look like a whole lot of fun! We saw the pair engage in a copulatory tie on March 21st so given a gestation period of 63 days her due date would be May 23rd. Keep your paws crossed!

Our live webcams will be trained on the pair so consider monitoring the couple from your home, office, or mobile device. If you see something interesting, please let us know!


The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) or “lobo” is the most genetically distinct lineage of wolves in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the most endangered mammals in North America. By the mid-1980s, hunting, trapping, and poisoning caused the extinction of lobos in the wild, with only a handful remaining in captivity. In 1998 the wolves were reintroduced into the wild as part of a federal reintroduction program under the Endangered Species Act. Today in the U.S., there is a single wild population comprising only 97 individuals – a decrease from 110 counted at the end of 2014.

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