RALEIGH, N.C.— The Center for Biological Diversity today added $10,000 to the reward for information leading to a conviction or fine in the latest illegal killing of an endangered red wolf, bringing the total reward offered to $12,500.
The wolf was poisoned and found dead Jan. 27 in Tyrell County, N.C.; on Thursday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asked for the public’s help in solving this crime and offered a $2,500 reward in the case.
“It’s a terrible injustice that someone would poison this extremely rare and precious red wolf,” said Jamie Pang, a policy specialist with the Center. “The science shows that red wolves can be saved but, with fewer than 50 left in the wild, this deplorable killing cannot be tolerated.”
Although once abundant along the entire coastal plain of the Southeast, red wolves were pushed to the brink of extinction after decades of relentless persecution. After the species was declared endangered in 1973, 17 wild red wolves were captured for captive breeding. Wolf releases began in North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in the mid-1980s, but recovery efforts have repeatedly been thwarted by illegal killings. Populations peaked at 130 in 2001, but currently there are less than 45 of the animals left in the wild.
“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,” said Pang. “With this killing and so many others, we could lose this species forever unless the federal government steps up and increases its efforts to recover these extremely endangered wolves.”
The best available science demonstrates that red wolves can be recovered if illegal killings end, additional populations are established in the wild, and additional resources invested into red wolf recovery. The Center submitted an emergency petition in May 2016 to strengthen rules protecting red wolves from illegal shootings and identify additional reintroduction sites where red wolves can thrive. In December the Center and allies filed a second petition with the Fish and Wildlife Service asking for an updated recovery plan. The agency has since pledged to develop a new recovery plan by January 2018 for the rapidly dwindling population of wild red wolves.
Anyone with information on the death of this or any other red wolf is urged to contact Resident Agent in Charge John Elofson at (404) 763-7959 x 222; Special Agent Jason Keith at (919) 856-4520 x 34; North Carolina Zone Wildlife Officer Frank Simms at (252) 796-3004 x 223; or North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Officer Robert Wayne at (252) 269-6734.