Archive for the ‘North Carolina’ Tag

Red Wolf, Red Herring   3 comments

October 5, 2016 by   – Defenders of Wildlife Blog

FWS Proposal is a Disaster for the World’s Most Endangered Wolf

On September 12, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced its proposal on the fate of the Red Wolf Recovery Program. To say that I am disheartened would be putting it mildly. I’m a lot closer to: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

While the FWS tried to spin it that they are still committed to recovery of the red wolf, the agency’s proposed actions speak much louder than their rhetoric. Here’s what FWS proposed – and what’s wrong with it.

First, the FWS proposed “to move quickly to secure the captive population of red wolves, which we now know is not sustainable in its current configuration.” This was, in our book, very clearly a ‘red herring’ for the red wolf and here’s why:

  • By looking at the FWS’s own Population Viability Analysis (PVA) – an assessment frequently used in conservation biology to determine the probability that a species will go extinct within a number of years – there is no more than a 0.5 percent chance that the captive population of red wolves will go extinct over the next 100 years.
  • The same analysis shows that without immediate action, the wild population of red wolves could perish in less than ten years.

Next, the FWS proposes “to determine where potential new sites exist for additional experimental wild populations by October 2017.” While expanding release sites and recovery locations throughout the red wolf’s original range in the Southeast makes total sense for the species, giving up on wolves in North Carolina absolutely does not. That move makes me howling mad.

  • A recent poll shows that 81 percent of voters statewide agree that: “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should make every effort to help the endangered red wolf population recover and prevent its extinction.”
  • Additionally, 27 legislators from North Carolina wrote to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in August 2016, asking that the agency redouble its efforts to recover the red wolf.

This program was once the model of success for wolf recovery efforts in the United States. Despite the efforts of dedicated on-the-ground staff, poor decision-making by FWS’ Southeast Regional Office has caused this program to crumble. As a result, the population of wild red wolves in North Carolina has crashed from a high of 150 to less than 45 wolves today. That’s reason to fix the program, not to close it down. It will take years to build new recovery programs and public support for wild wolves in other locations, and in the meantime, we could be learning from an expanded effort in North Carolina.

FWS also proposes “to revise the existing experimental population rule to apply only to the Dare County Bombing Range and Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge…” What does this actually mean for wolves on the ground in North Carolina?

  • Starting in 2018, FWS plans to reduce the habitat of the world’s only population of wild red wolves from 1.7 million acres spread over public and private lands, down to 200,000 acres of public lands in one county. This reduces the red wolf recovery area and habitat to just 12 percent of its former range.
  • Additionally, FWS wants to round up any red wolves outside of Dare County and put them into a captive breeding program in zoos across the country.

This is a complete disaster for wild red wolves. Restricting wolves to one small space in the wild doesn’t put them on the road to recovery and goes against their very biology. Thankfully, our legal team working with our conservation partners recently won a preliminary injunction against the Service, limiting how red wolves can be removed from private land. But the fact that officials would even suggest this measure doesn’t bode well for future management decisions.

Finally, FWS proposes to “complete a comprehensive Species Status Assessment and five-year status review for the red wolf (by Oct. 2017), building on the foundation of work accomplished over the past two years and past history. This will guide the Service’s recovery planning in the future.”

All I can say is this is a massive game of kick the can down the road. This proposal is, essentially, a plan for extinction. Clearly, the current administration is backing away from a nearly 30-year investment in recovering red wolves in the wild and passing the buck to the next administration. The FWS decision undoes nearly three decades of work to recover the red wolf in North Carolina. The Red Wolf Recovery Program was the example for wolf restoration efforts in Yellowstone National Park and for the Mexican gray wolf in the Southwest.

There will be public comment periods on this proposal once the FWS begins to make official decisions. When this happens, we’ll be calling on everyone who cares about red wolves to tell the FWS to do its job and recover endangered species in the wild, not just in captivity. We will be organizing red wolf supporters to stand up for their native wolf. And we will continue working with private landowners, elected officials and the public to build on the strong support for red wolves in North Carolina.

It is time for the public and the conservation community to stand firm and united behind red wolf recovery. Together we can lead this program towards a better future, and save the world’s most endangered wolf from extinction.

SPEAK UP FOR RED WOLVES

Red wolves are dangerously close to extinction in the wild, and they need your help. Insist that FWS recommit to red wolf recovery – before it’s too late!

Sign the Petition!


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Ben Prater, Director, Southeast Program

Ben Prater supervises and directs Defenders’ efforts to protect imperiled wildlife and their habitats in the Southeast. He is also building on the outstanding work of our Florida and legal teams throughout the region and expanding our work into the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama which are home to sensitive habitats and many endangered species.

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Reader’s View: Killing one wolf impacts a larger system   Leave a comment

From:  Duluth News Tribune

February 22nd, 2015 by Lisa Herthel-Hendrickson

Much of what’s in the media regarding wolf hunting is propaganda. “Propaganda” is biased with undertones promoting a particular cause. The statement in a Jan. 14 letter that “city people don’t understand wolves” was propaganda at its finest. The assertion was narrow, lacked credibility and failed to consider the larger picture.

I rarely see mentions of the complexities surrounding pack instincts and wolf communities. Killing one wolf impacts a larger system. Are we as a civilized culture defending practices that have devastating repercussions on ecosystems based on the premise humans are a superior life form responsible for population control?

I have lived in rural Minnesota most of my life and now live in Duluth. In 15 years I’ve seen two wolves. Recently, a colleague caught a glimpse of a lone wolf in her yard that frightened off when she approached. Wolves are shy and elusive creatures. Rumors and misinformation abound.

Sport and population-control hunting causes an increase, not a decrease, in livestock and pet predation. Individual wolves, especially pups, depend on their pack (and not just the alpha, contrary to popular belief) to learn hunting and social skills required for survival. Wolves are more likely to prey on easier targets such as domesticated or livestock animals when their packs are compromised.

Under the recent federal ruling, it remains legal for an individual to kill wolves deemed a threat to human life. Even a perceived threat suffices. No one challenges the right of livestock owners to kill wolves posing a threat to their livestock.

I raise the question: What’s the wolf hunt actually about? In northern Minnesota, where anti-wolf sentiment is on the verge of hysteria, I can’t help but believe it’s about human predators perpetuating values that disrespect natural order and fellow species important to intricate ecological systems of life.

 

Decision on North Carolina red wolves looms in 2015   Leave a comment

From:  Hamptonroads.com

Dec, 30, 2014 by Jonathan Drew

RALEIGH, N.C.

Hank, one of the two resident red wolves is seen at the Red Wolf Education and Health Care Facility in Columbia, N.C., on June 4, 2014. (Stephen M. Katz | The Virginian-Pilot)

 

 

In the 27 years since federal officials reintroduced the red wolf in the wild, a restoration program has mustered about 100 of the carnivores in a handful of North Carolina counties. A decision looms in early 2015 on whether to continue efforts to maintain the only wild population of the species.

How the species’ existence will play out, in the wild or in a cage, has been debated in courtrooms, at high levels of the federal government and in 48,000 public comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The importance of the decision is reflected in the deliberate pace the agency is taking.

Tom MacKenzie, a spokesman for the wildlife service, said that the decision on the program’s fate is expected in the first three months of the year but that he couldn’t be more specific.

“They’re trying to get it done early as possible, but in a deliberative process that allows for everyone’s opinions to be brought in,” he said.

Once common in the Southeast, the red wolf had been considered extinct in the wild as of 1980 because of factors including hunting and loss of habitat. In 1987, wildlife officials released red wolves bred in captivity back into the wild in North Carolina. About 100 of them now roam five eastern North Carolina counties, and about 200 are in captive breeding programs.

As part of their evaluation, federal officials commissioned an independent review in late 2014 that found flaws in how the program is run, ranging from inadequate understanding of population trends to poor coordination with local managers. The report also suggested that red wolves be reintroduced in additional areas.

The federal agency has said all options are on the table. When a program to restore the wolves to the Smoky Mountains in the western part of the state ended in 1998, the agency tried to capture all of the animals and bring them back to captivity, Leopoldo Miranda, an assistant regional director for the Fish and Wildlife Service, has said.

MacKenzie said Miranda and other decision-makers were unavailable for an interview.

In November, conservation groups won a court battle to impose stricter hunting rules for coyotes in five eastern North Carolina counties — including a ban on nighttime hunting — that are meant to protect the wolves, which look similar. The groups cited gunshots as a leading cause of death for the wolves, even though it’s illegal to kill them in most circumstances.

The settlement agreement does allow for daytime hunting on private land by permit. A lawyer for the Animal Welfare Institute, Tara Zuardo, said she hopes that allowing daytime hunting will placate landowners and reduce political pressure that wildlife officials may be feeling. All coyote hunting had been banned for several months before the settlement was struck.

Zuardo said she’s hopeful that federal wildlife officials will decide to continue or modify the red wolf program — and perhaps release them in additional sites — rather than pull the plug.

“In my opinion, if they were to terminate the program it would be a political and financial decision,” said Zuardo, whose group was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the coyote hunting rules. “And certainly if Fish and Wildlife chose to do that, they will be challenged. It’s not a good idea.”

 

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