The red wolf is a wolf species found in the eastern part of the United States. The species is extremely endangered. Right now, scientists believe that there are only 14 red wolves in the wild. These wolves all live in the state of North Carolina. There are about 200 other red wolves in existence that are part of captive breeding programs.
Because the number of red wolves has dwindled to such a low level, the courts and the governor of North Carolina are entering the battle to save this endangered species. Earlier in 2019, the Center For Biological Diversity and the Southern Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit against the Department of Fish and Wildlife. They have demanded that the courts take action and force the department to come up with a plan for the proper conservation of the red wolves.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has also sought help for the red wolves. On November 22, Governor Cooper wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Interior asking him to change the management strategy for the wolves. Governor Cooper pointed out that no red wolves were born this year in the wild, and urgent action is necessary.
In response to the lawsuit and Governor Cooper’s efforts, the Fish and Wildlife Department is taking some limited action. Two red wolves from Florida will be moved to North Carolina. They will be released in the wild as a breeding pair. The hope is that new litters will be produced, and that the Florida wolves will increase the genetic diversity of the wild population in North Carolina.
The recovery effort for red wolves has been controversial. When the wolves were first reintroduced into the wild, the management program for their recovery was carried out aggressively. The number of wolves grew to 100, and that number remained through 2012.
The current problems for the wolves began in 2015. Conservative groups and landowners in the recovery area pressured the government to take little action on behalf of wolves. Much of the successful conservation program was abandoned.
Governor Cooper, along with those bringing suit in Federal Court, hope that their efforts will force the government to do more in keeping the red wolves from becoming extinct in the wild once again.