Right now anti-wildlife special interests are pushing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to end North Carolina's red wolf reintroduction program.
Red wolves were once abundant across the Southeast -- roaming from Virginia to Florida and all the way to east Texas. By 1970, however, they'd been driven to the brink of extinction by decades of persecution and systematic efforts to eliminate wolves from the American landscape. After the species was declared endangered in 1973, the last 17 wild red wolves were captured for a captive breeding program.
Red 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 that have kept the population from expanding. And now, rather than taking steps to curtail activities that harm red wolves, the Service stands back and the poaching continues.
Please act now to protect red wolves in North Carolina: Urge the Fish and Wildlife Service to continue the reintroduction program and keep the last 100 red wolves in the wild from being returned to captivity.
I strongly urge you to continue supporting the red wolf reintroduction program in North Carolina and expand your efforts to protect red wolves from being illegally killed by poachers. Each year red wolves are illegally shot and killed in North Carolina, and the Service's efforts to stem this tide of killing have come up short. As a result, the red wolf population has remained stuck at around 100 red wolves in the wild -- far below what is needed to recover the species.
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I am deeply disturbed that the Fish and Wildlife Service is even considering changes to the red wolf recovery program that would weaken or undercut efforts to save this important species. Red wolves are an integral part of this nation's natural heritage, and the Service is responsible for recovering endangered species for the benefit of the American people. Its mission is not to placate extreme anti-wildlife interests. Hundreds of red wolves are in captivity right now, and it must be the Service's goal to return more of them to the wild in more locations -- not to add more to the captive population by capturing the few wild red wolves left in North Carolina.
The Endangered Species Act has been a tremendous success in recovering wildlife on the brink of extinction. A federal judge has just given the red wolves an opportunity to increase in number without facing a constant onslaught of illegal killings in North Carolina. The Fish and Wildlife Service should be working on solutions that help the species recover, rather than declaring defeat.
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