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Future Of Red Wolf Recovery Program Still Unclear

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Steve Hillebrand
/
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Federal wildlife officials say they’ll take more time to study the feasibility of maintaining a Red Wolf recovery program in eastern North Carolina. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also announced Tuesday that it will halt the release of any more Red Wolves from captivity into the five-county recovery area that includes Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington counties.  

Few Red Wolves have been released in the recovery area in recent years. The federal Wildlife Service estimates that between 50 and 75 of the endangered animals currently live in that area. Cindy Dohner, Southeast Regional Director of the federal wildlife agency,  said wolves that are already in the wild there will remain as the agency gathers more information.  

The presence of Red Wolves has led to controversies involving landowners, hunters, and environmental advocates.mThe Southern Environmental Law Center calls the federal agency’s decision “disappointing” – and says it undermines continuing efforts to save the endangered species. 

Dohner acknowledged challenges with the recovery effort. "We didn't always meet the expectations that we set," she said. Dohner added that stakeholder groups will be involved as the agency continues to review the Red Wolf program. The agency says it plans to complete it's review of the recovery effort by the end of this year.  

North Carolina's Wildlife Resources Commission in January called on the federal government to end the Red Wolf Recovery Program in North Carolina. The state commission said the effort in the state has failed. 'The commission also cited problems with Red Wolves encroaching onto private lands, along with unintended cross-breeding between the endangered species and coyotes.