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USFWS’s Controversial Red Wolf Decision Based On “Alarming Misinterpretations” of Science


The team of scientists who drafted the Population Viability Analysis (PVA) for the red wolf state in a letter that U. S. Fish Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) decision to pull almost all of the last remaining wild red wolves and place them in captivity was based on “many alarming misinterpretations” of their scientific analysis.
“As the scientific team conducting the population viability analysis (PVA) of the future status of red wolves, we were pleased at USFWS’ desire to use the best available science to inform decision-making. Unfortunately, the September 12th decision on the future of the Red Wolf Recovery Program included many alarming misinterpretations of the PVA as justification for the final decision.”
The June 2016 PVA report summarizes modeling for both the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) population and the wild population in North Carolina. Their results highlight the successes of the SSP and wild populations, the challenges they face, and the management actions that can help them.
“The most conspicuous misinterpretation of these results in the USFWS decision is focused on the SSP – that “the species is not secured in captivity” and that “with no changes to current management, the species will likely be lost within the next decade.”
Their letter clarifies  appropriate interpretations of the PVA’s recommendations re: both the captive SSP and wild populations and warns that USFWS’s singular focus on captive SSP population “will no doubt result in the extinction of red wolves in the wild.
The fact that USFWS, the very agency charged by federal law with protecting endangered species, is basing species recovery decisions on “alarming misinterpretations” of science is just another blow the agency has delivered to the World’s most endangered wolf species.
Due to the Service’s neglect and inaction over the past few years, only 45 red wolves remain in the wild.