The red wolf is currently one of the most endangered species in North America, with only 24 wild wolves left in North Carolina! You would think that agencies aimed at protecting wildlife, such as the famous U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), would do everything in their power to help save a species this close to extinction, right? WRONG! Sadly, this wasn’t the case for these poor wolves.
After reassessing whether the wolves were worth saving (that’s right, an agency dedicated to protecting wildlife questioned if a species was even worth saving…), the USFWS deemed that it was unnecessary to continue managing the wolves. This meant that any facility participating in the Species Survival Plan, a breeding and management recovery plan (in simpler terms, conservation centres house wild wolves, breed them, and hope to release them back into wild), were no longer allowed to release any of the wild wolves they had raised. This program has worked for years in helping the red wolf population, and is possibly the greatest hope for saving them. Halting their original recovery program has showed a significant decrease in their wild population. (Click on the entertaining video below for more about red wolves, what was happening between the USFWS, and how you can help)!
Not all hope is lost though. In recent news, Chief Judge Terrence W. Boyle ruled that the USFWS violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Protection Act, by neglecting their responsibility to protect endangered animals such as the red wolf—LET’S GO JUDGE BOYLE! His decision revolved around the lawsuit against the USFWS by the Defenders of Wildlife, the Red Wolf Coalition, and the Animal Welfare Institute. He ruled that the USFWS’s decision to halt successful methods to save the wolves “amount to a failure (to) comply with its affirmative duty,” and that the USFWS only came to their decision due to pressure from those that were against saving the wolves! Judge Boyle also made permanent a 2016 injunction that will prevent the USFWS from killing any red wolf without first showing proof that the species was a threat to humans, pets, or livestock—and good news, red wolves are rarely ever a threat to any of those. Sierra Weaver, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, stated, “for four years now the USFWS has been dismantling one of the most successful predator reintroductions in U.S. history. The service knows how to protect and recover the red wolf in the wild, but it stopped listening to its scientists and started listening to bureaucrats instead. The law doesn’t allow the agency to just walk away from species conservation, like it did here.”
As much of a victory as this was for the red wolves, there’s still much to be done towards fully saving them! So what can you do to help save endangered red wolves?
- Advocate for them! Spread the word to family and friends; the more people that know about red wolves and what’s going on, the better chance in saving them. Social media can be an extremely easy and helpful way to advocate for them!
- Reach out to politicians! Make your voice heard and get involved with local and federal governments that can make major decisions towards endangered species protection.
- Donate! Donating to conservation centres that aid red wolf recovery can go a long way—every penny counts!
- Visit wolf conservation centres! These are the facilities aiming to save red wolves. Not only will you be supporting them by your visit, but you’ll learn a lot and possibly get to see one of these stunning animals!
What are some other things you can do to help save endangered red wolves?
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