Fewer Than 100 Red Wolves Exist, and Now They’re Being Killed

Another federally protected red wolf was found shot dead and was the third to be killed since a new law that allows hunters to shoot coyotes at night went into effect in August.

Red wolves were essentially extinct by the 1960s due to habitat destruction and predator control programs. They were declared extinct in the wild in 1980. In 1987, red wolves who were part of a captive breeding program were released in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

Since then, their range has expanded to include 1.7 million acres covering five counties in northeast North Carolina — the only state where they reside — and their population is now estimated to be 100.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and private organizations are offering a reward of up to $8,000 for information leading to the conviction for the person or persons responsible for killing each of the radio collared wolves. Under the law, illegally killing one of these wolves can result in one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

The Red Wolf Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife,  the Animal Welfare Institute and the Southern Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against spotlight hunting of coyotes at night because they believe the similar appearance of red wolves can lead to confusion.

They also want hunting in red wolf recovery area stopped altogether.

“We hope that the commission will take necessary measures to avoid killing of red wolves,” said Derb Carter, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center who represents the groups. “The killing of an endangered red wolf just over a month since the commission allowed spotlight hunting of coyotes at night is a clear signal that the rule is a danger to wild red wolves. We’ve asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to confirm reports that additional wolves have been shot since the rule went into effect.”

Despite opposition, North Carolina’s Wildlife Resources Commission passed the new rule this spring, arguing that night hunting would allow for better predator control. The groups believe that the decision was made in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

“With fewer than 100 red wolves in the wild, we cannot afford to lose a single one to accidental shooting,” said Jason Rylander, senior staff attorney at Defenders of Wildlife. “Spotlight hunting of coyotes is a new and unnecessary threat to the conservation of red wolves.”

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Photo credit: Thinkstock


Rosemary Lowe

Well put, Katherine. It seems that our human assault on this Earth gets worse everyday. I am sickened by it---the world will do just fine without us. But, I fear many beautiful non-humans will be dragged along with us on our fall into ecological darkness.

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright6 years ago

This absolutely sickens and disgusts me. I will never understand why humans feel the need to kill...kill...kill...until all these species will be extinct.

"As we hurtle towards poisoning our entire planet, arrogant human beings should remember we are a fellow animal and their fate is ours. Only after the last tree has been cut down, only after the last river has been poisoned, only after the last fish has been caught…only then will you find money cannot be eaten..."

What are humans going to do when they've killed off everything???? What then????

KAROLY Molinari6 years ago

Why some humans want to end with the animal species?? what is wrong with those evil people? if they have too much anger , frustration inside better take it on humans that they can defend themselves , not animals.

Carrie Anne Brown

signed, thanks for sharing :)

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman6 years ago

Signed the Petition :0 Thnx

Rosemary Lowe

For those interested, please sign the Care 2 petition to Stop Public Lands Ranching at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/343/829/766/stop-public-lands-ranching/

Rosemary Lowe

The Mexican wolf, extirpated from the southwest, due to the livestock industry's war on all wildlife, was "re-introduced" to the Gila Wilderness several years ago. These were "zoo wolves" (who had no wild experience)& they did not stand a chance against the livestock industry's guns and traps: many of these animals have been killed, their family structures torn apart.
The so-called "experts" which "managed" the doomed project, were pushing for "pure bred wolves" a humanist concept, which is often the problem. If wolves from the wild, maybe even cross-breeding with coyotes, had been re-introduced to the Gila, the packs might have stood a better chance. But humans have to play God. Coyotes and wolves do whatever they do. They are smarter than humans.
The wild Canadian wolves re-introduced to Yellowstone have been a wonderful success. One wolf biologist we met there said "so what if some wolves might breed with
coyotes, I hope they do...it might be better in the long run for all of them--maybe they'll survive us humans." He went on to say, "in any case, we should just leave them alone to decide." This was the smartest biologist I have ever met!

Colleen Prinssen
Colleen Prinssen6 years ago

Rosemary L. come to where I am. we have mega coyotes. People want to call them a new species. the "eastren" coyote.

but I think some liniage is with wolf blood.

so, in essence we have coywolves. and that is the controversy with the red wolf. they were always rare because they were "mixed race".


Sheri D.
Sheri D6 years ago

Signed. I don't hold out much hope for this. NRA is just too powerful.

Dawn M.
Dawn Mello6 years ago

Time to hunt the hunters.