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McEachin leads more than 30 House colleagues in effort to save the American Red Wolf

American red wolf
(© Mark Kostich – stock.adobe.com)

The wild American red wolf population, which consistently numbered over 100 wolves between 2002 and 2014, has now been reduced to only 10 known red wolves in the wild population.

For six years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to release any captive red wolves into the wild population, and no wild pairs of red wolves have reproduced during the past two breeding seasons.

Fourth District Congressman A. Donald McEachin is leading an effort urging federal action to prevent the extinction of the critically endangered American red wolf.

Co-led by Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Don Beyer (VA-08) and G. K. Butterfield (NC-01), the effort cites the past successes of the FWS Red Wolf Recovery Program, calling for a return to the model of reintroducing red wolves into the wild population as well as further measures critical to support and stabilize the population.

“The FWS’s Red Wolf Recovery Program has been a global model for successful reintroductions of critically endangered and threatened species,” the members wrote in a letter to FWS this week. “As such, the plan currently being developed by FWS to resume the release of captive red wolves should look to the successful history of this program as a model.”

“The continued failure of the agency to resume its previously proven successful conservation measures has violated not only public trust, but also the Endangered Species Act,” the letter continues. “Due to these failures, the risk of extinction for the wild red wolf is significant, and we request that FWS do everything in its power to ensure the best chance of survival for any reintroduced wolves.”

The Members outlined principles of immediate action necessary to ensure a sustainable wild red wolf population, including requests that the FWS:

  • Introduce breeding pairs into the wild, which would increase the chances of reproduction and establishment of territories.
  • Ensure that wolves from captivity are released as soon as possible during times of the year that will ensure the greatest chance of individual survivorship and reproduction.
  • Restart the coyote sterilization program and other strategies outlined in the Red Wolf Adaptive Management Program, which if implemented, would maintain viable genetics, which are crucial for the species’ long-term viability.
  • Utilize the entire five-county recovery area, and work with state agencies to identify more lands that could function as habitat for red wolves.
  • Protect wild red wolves from gunshot mortalities through sincere and expanded engagement with local communities, including education programs, local partnerships, and addressing any landowner concerns. A comprehensive and participatory approach to community outreach is essential to the success of red wolf recovery.

“The American red wolf is in peril, and the continued decline of this critically endangered species must be addressed with the urgency this extinction crisis demands,” McEachin said. “With only ten known red wolves left in the wild population, I urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to immediately resume the release of captive red wolves into the wild. The American red wolf is a critically important species, and we must ensure its preservation and conservation.”

The letter is supported by the following organizations: Defenders of Wildlife, Southern Environmental Law Center, Born Free USA, Center for Biological Diversity, Endangered Species Coalition, Plan B to Save Wolves, Western Wolf Outreach, Animal Welfare Institute, and Wildlands Network.

Read the full letter here


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