Following the discovery of two dead red wolves near Roper, N. C., and Lake Phelps in central Washington County, N.C., a number of local and national conservation organizations have increased their contributions toward a $21,000 reward for information connected to the killings.
The red wolf is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The wolves that were killed in North Carolina were found Oct. 28 and 30. Both were wearing wildlife radio collars.Once common throughout the southeastern United States, red wolf populations have been decimated due to intensive predator control programs and loss of habitat. A remnant population of red wolves was found along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana.
Among those contributing to the reward are the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Red Wolf Coalition, Humane Society of the United States, and the Center for Biological Diversity.
Anyone with information that directly leads to an arrest, a criminal conviction, on the subject or subjects responsible for the suspected unlawful take of one of these red wolves may be eligible for some of the reward money.
The maximum criminal penalties for the unlawful taking of a red wolf are one year imprisonment and $100,000 fine per individual. Anyone with information on the death of this red wolf or any others, past or future, is urged to contact Resident Agent in Charge John Elofson at (404) 763-7959, Refuge Officer Frank Simms at (252) 216-7504, or North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Officer Robert Wayne at (252) 216-8225.
In 1980, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared red wolves extinct in the wild. By 1987, enough red wolves were bred in captivity to begin a restoration program on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern North Carolina. Since then, the experimental population area has expanded to include three national wildlife refuges, a Department of Defense bombing range, state-owned lands, and private property, spanning a total of 1.7 million acres. About 100 red wolves roam their native habitats in five northeastern North Carolina counties. Additionally, nearly 200 red wolves comprise the Species Survival Plan managed breeding program in sites across the United States, still an essential element of red wolf recovery.
The red wolf is one of two species of wolves in North America, the other being the gray wolf, (Canis lupus). They are known for the characteristic reddish color of their fur most apparent behind the ears and along the neck and legs, but are mostly brown and buff colored with some black along their backs. Intermediate in size compared to gray wolves and coyotes, the average adult red wolf weighs 45 to 80 pounds, stands about 26 inches at the shoulder and is about 4 feet long from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail. Red wolves are social animals that live in packs consisting of a breeding pair and their offspring of different years, typically five to eight animals. Red wolves prey on a variety of wild mammals such as raccoon, rabbit, white-tailed deer, nutria, and other rodents. Most active at dusk and dawn, red wolves are elusive and generally avoid humans and human activity.
To learn more about red wolves and efforts to recover them, visit www.fws.gov/redwolf.