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NC: Conservationists sue to save red wolves

A coalition of conservation groups is suing to try to stop an expanded hunting rule they imperils red wolves, a federally listed endangered species.

The Red Wolf Coalition and others have gone to Wake Superior Court to try to stop night hunting of coyotes with artificial lights. The conservation groups fear that more red wolves living in eastern North Carolina counties will be shot. Young red wolves resemble coyotes, and they are hard to tell apart even during the day. About 100 red wolves live in eastern North Carolina counties. They are the only red wolves living in the wild.

The suit says the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission improperly adopted a temporary rule that allows night hunting. The rule took effect on Aug. 1. It will be in place for up to 270 days, or about nine months, while the commission pursues a permanent rule.

“As currently written, this spotlighting rule sets the stage for a tragedy of mistaken identity,” said Derb Carter, the senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, which is representing the animal welfare groups. “A hunting rule can be done in a responsible, legal way that preserves the world’s only red wolves whose refuge is North Carolina.”