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Judge Orders USFWS to Resume Releases of Captive Red Wolves

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U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle, of the Eastern District of North Carolina, ruled in a case brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center(SELC) that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must develop a plan by March 1 of this year to resume the successful practice of releasing captive red wolves into the Red Wolf Recovery Area in North Carolina. The court order temporarily prohibits the agency from implementing its recent policy change barring release of captive wolves into the wild.

SELC sued USFWS in November 2020 for violations of the Endangered Species Act connected with the agency’s new policies that prohibit proven management strategies to recover the world’s only remaining population of critically endangered red wolves. SELC brought the suit on behalf of the Red Wolf Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife, and Animal Welfare Institute.

“The agency has to stop managing for extinction and instead take meaningful action to rebuild the wild red wolf population in North Carolina.”

SELC Senior Attorney Sierra Weaver

The wild red wolf population currently stands at only eight known (collared) individuals, a dramatic drop from the almost 150 counted in the late 2000s. Moreover, for the first time in nearly three decades, no pups were born to the wild population in 2019 and 2020.