The world almost lost red wolves once, and now we may lose them again by the hand of the very agency charged with protecting them.
Red wolves once roamed vast portions of the southeast, but were essentially wiped out by the 1960s due to habitat loss and rampant predator control programs. By 1980, they were officially declared extinct in the wild.
Over the coming years, a recovery program was launched to bring them back, a captive breeding program was started, and releases began in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina – the only state where they exist today.
Since then, their range has expanded to include 1.7 million acres, covering five counties in the northeast part of the state.
By 2001, there were believed to be 120 red wolves in the wild, but according to the latest five-year status review and species status assessment released this spring, there are now fewer than 40 left.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is charged with ensuring their survival under the Endangered Species Act, has continued to fail them in recent years by weakening the recovery program, not dealing with coyotes (who hybridize with red wolves), issuing permits for them to be killed, not investigating illegal killings, and stopping reintroductions – even though there are more than 200 captive wolves available at facilities across the country.
Now, it's about to do even more damage with a proposal that calls for reducing the existing recovery area by 90 percent, limiting them to just a single county where it's estimated fewer than 15 wolves would be able to survive.
It would also get rid of protections for any that wandered off of federal land, which would allow them to be legally shot, trapped, and killed without consequences, in addition to dooming those in the captive breeding program to lives of confinement.
Red wolf advocates fear this species will be doomed to extinction in the wild if it moves forward.
The public has already shown widespread support for red wolf recovery, and thousands spoke out the last time the agency tried something like this. Unfortunately, public opinion and science supporting these wolves is being ignored again.
Please sign and share this petition to let the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service know you oppose this proposal, and instead want to see the agency do everything in its power to help red wolves recover in the wild – as its required to do by law.