BY AARON MOODY
Someone poisoned a red wolf in Tyrrell County in January, and now there’s a sizable prize for anyone with information that leads to a conviction or fine in the killing.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted a $2,500 reward Thursday. On Friday, the Center for Biological Diversity pledged to add $10,000, bringing the total reward to $20,000. Other contributors include $3,000 from the Animal Welfare Institute, $2,500 from the Defenders of Wildlife and $2,000 from the Red Wolf Coalition.
The species was labeled endangered in 1973, according to a statement from the center, an Arizona-based nonprofit. After being captured to re-establish the population, red wolves were released in the 1980s along North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. But illegal killings have hindered the effort, the center said.
The CBD said that the population peaked with 130 in 2001 and that now there are fewer than 45 red wolves left in the wild.
“The science shows that red wolves can be saved but, with fewer than 50 left in the wild, this deplorable killing cannot be tolerated,” Jamie Pang, a CBD policy specialist, said in a news release. “We’re adding to this reward because red wolves are a critical part of America’s heritage, and we shouldn’t let a few killers deny future generations their opportunity to see these creatures in the wild.”
The wildlife service in 2015 announced plans to further research the feasibility of recovering the species. In June, it held two public meetings to discuss future management of the red wolf population. Officials said the meetings were well attended, and that there is a mix of support and opposition for the recovery program.
“We are completely committed to recovery for the red wolf – that has always been our position,” said service spokesman Phil Kloer.
Officials ask anyone with information on the Tyrell County red wolf killing or others to call U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service resident agent in charge John Elofsson at 404-763-7959, ext. 222, or special agent Jason Keith at 919-856-4520, ext. 34.