A captive red wolf grooms another at the North Carolina Museum of Life Science in Durham, N.C., in November 2017. Photo: Salwan Georges / The Washington Post

By Darryl Fears
27 June 2018

(The Washington Post) – In a proposal that would essentially end a 30-year effort to reestablish critically endangered American red wolves in North Carolina, the Interior Department on Wednesday announced a plan that would allow private landowners to kill wolves that stray onto their property from a protected federal wildlife refuge.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials who presented the proposal in a news conference said the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, which supports about a dozen of the 35 red wolves that roam a five-county area in eastern North Carolina, would be the only place where they would be safe.

The service’s new objective, said Leopoldo Miranda, assistant director for ecological services in the agency’s Southeast region, would be to intensively manage a small population of 10 to 15 red wolves at the refuge to preserve their genetic value and wild behaviors in the hopes that officials can find a location more friendly and suitable than eastern North Carolina.

Miranda declined to name areas that are in consideration to relocate the wolves. But he said that the process of identifying an area and securing an agreement to introduce wolves would probably take three years.

“Success for me right now is to keep this smaller wild population as intact as possible,” Miranda said. It will take hard work, outreach with state officials and conservation groups dedicated to saving red wolves, and research that can guide government officials to more supportive habitat.

North Carolina game officials have openly opposed the presence of red wolves in their state, and conservationists have said Interior’s management of red wolves in recent years betrayed the mission to preserve them. The new proposal fueled the anger.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service isn’t just neglecting its duties, it’s actively undermining its own role as the protector of our nation’s endangered species,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (Ariz.), the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee. “Their only native home is the United States. FWS is passing a death sentence on an animal as American as the bald eagle.”

A public meeting is set for 10 July 2018 in Manteo, N.C., and the public comment period starts Thursday and will conclude at the end of next month. [more]

Interior Department plans to let people kill endangered red wolves


This Proposed Rule document was issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS):

Action

Proposed rule; availability of a draft environmental assessment, opening of comment period, and announcement of public hearing.

Summary

We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to replace the existing regulations governing the nonessential experimental population designation of the red wolf (Canis rufus) under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act, as amended. We request public comments, and announce a public information session and public hearing, on this proposed rule. In addition, we announce the availability of a draft environmental assessment on the proposed replacement of the existing nonessential experimental population regulations for the red wolf. In conjunction with this proposed action, we are initiating consultation pursuant to section 7 of the Endangered Species Act and completing a compatibility determination pursuant to the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997.

We propose this action to ensure our regulations are based on the most recent science and lessons learned related to the management of red wolves. If adopted as proposed, this action would further conservation of red wolf recovery overall by allowing for the reallocation of resources to enhance support for the captive population, retention of a propagation population for future new reintroduction efforts that is influenced by natural selection, and provision of a population for continued scientific research on wild red wolf behavior and population management. This action would also promote the viability of the nonessential experimental population by authorizing proven management techniques, such as the release of animals from the captive population into the nonessential experimental population, which is vital to maintaining a genetically healthy population.

Dates

Written comments: We will consider comments we receive on or before 30 July 2018. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES, below) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date.

Requests for additional public hearings: We must receive requests for additional public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by 12 July 2018.

Public information session and public hearing: On 10 July 2018, we will hold a public information session and public hearing on this proposed rule and draft environmental assessment. The public information session is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and the public hearing from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Endangered and Threatened Species: Nonessential Experimental Population of Red Wolves in Northeastern North Carolina

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