USFWS Red Wolf Recovery Review/Proposal
September 2014 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that it would be conducting a review of the red wolf (Canis rufus) recovery program in eastern North Carolina, per request of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC). According to a August 29, 2014 press release from the USFWS, this review woul help determine the fate of the red wolf recovery program. The evaluation was slated to be peer reviewed and then used to help the Service determine if it should continue, modify, or terminate the program that manages the last remaining wild red wolves on our planet.
In November 2014 the Wildlife Management Institute has released its report, A Comprehensive Review and Evaluation of the Red Wolf (Canis rufus) Recovery Program. This report examines the history and current status of the red wolf recovery program in northeastern North Carolina. It calls for extensive changes to rescue the federal government’s struggling, unpopular Red Wolf Recovery Program in five Eastern North Carolina counties. In summary, it says the red wolf effort in North Carolina should expand to other states, as well.
On January 29, 2015 the NCWRC approved two resolutions (here and here) aimed at abolishing the red wolf recovery program in North Carolina, home to the only wild population of red wolves in the world.
On June 30th, 2015 the USFWS announced that it will suspend reintroductions of red wolf into the wild while it gathers additional science and research into the feasibility of recovery for the species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
On October 27, 2015, USFWS announced that it would be adjusting its timeframe to complete the review with completion by late summer 2016. The Service announced that it would reconvene a multi-faceted red wolf recovery team to address current and future needs to restore red wolves in the wild.The red wolf recovery team members were selected based on professional expertise or experience in one or more of the four components of the review and for the next steps in planning and implementation.
The team members are:
- Pete Benjamin, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- David Cobb, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
- Jett Ferebee, Landowner
- Eric Gese, USDA/APHIS/WS/National Wildlife Research Center
- Sarah Long, Lincoln Park Zoo
- Ben Prater, Defenders of Wildlife - Resigned March 1, 2016
- Bill Rich, Hyde County
- Christopher Serenari, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
- Michael Stoskopf, North Carolina State University
- Herb Vanderberry, North Carolina Farm Bureau
- Will Waddell, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
- Lisette Waits, University of Idaho
On May 24, 2016, Wolf Conservation Center, Animal Welfare Instatute, Center for Biological Diversity, Endangered Species Coalition, South Florida Wildlands Association, Wildearth GUrdians, and Wildlands Network file Emergency Petition to Revise Red Wolf's 10(j) Rule.
June 10, 2016, Population Viability Analysis –FINAL REPORT FOR U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE (USFWS)FEASIBILITY STUDY completed..
On June 21, 2016, Red Wolf Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Animal Welfare Institute filed preliminary injunction to stop USFWS from capturing and killing wild red wolves.
On August 17, 2016, Polling Finds North Carolina Voters Strongly Back Red Wolf Recovery (Tulchin Research)
On September 12, 2016, USFWS Publishes Its Recommended Decisions in Response to Red wolf Recovery Program Evaluation. The agency's new rule proposes to significantly change the size, scope and management of the current red wolf recovery program. Read the Wolf Conservation Center's summary.
On September 29, 2016, Judge Terrence Boyle issues preliminary injunction to stop USFWS from capturing and killing wild red wolves.
On October 11, 2016, 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. More.
On November 30, 2016, In a letter, dozens of scientists with expertise in ecology, genetics and other areas relevant to wolf conservation have urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to promote, not curtail, red wolf recovery. More.
On December 07, 2016, Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and eight other key Democratic Members of Congress sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell calling on her to override the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) recent decision to eliminate its recovery program for red wolves. The letter points out that the decision was made despite scientific consensus that red wolf recovery can succeed if the agency continues and amplifies its existing efforts. More.
On December 8, 2016, Wolf Conservation Center, Animal Welfare Instatute, Center for Biological Diversity, Endangered Species Coalition, South Florida Wildlands Association, Wildearth Guardians, and Wildlands Network file petition with the federal agency seeking an updated recovery plan for critically endangered species.
On January 19, 2017, In a letter, USFWS Southeast Regional Director Cynthia Dohner pledged to prepare an updated recovery plan in 2018 for the rapidly dwindling population of wild red wolves. The Service explained that a revised recovery plan will incorporate new information about red wolves, including a “species status assessment” to be prepared by October.
On May 23, 2017, USFWS publishes its proposed rule, Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Nonessential Experimental Population of Red Wolves (Canis rufus) in North Carolina, to revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of red wolves in North Carolina under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act to allow significant changes in the size, scope and management of the current red wolf recovery program. The 60 day comment period closes July 24, 2017.
While USFWS, the very agency charged by federal law with protecting the endangered species, continues to review the program, it has halted all captive-to-wild releases. Also remaining on hold is a key management activity—the release of sterilized coyotes to prevent hybridization—that NCWRC had prohibited.
Red wolves remain among the world’s most endangered species. The current estimate puts the only wild population of red wolves at their lowest level (30-35) since the late 1990s.