By Jeff Hampton
The Southern Environmental Law Center filed suit today against the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission in an effort to stop a rule that allows hunters to shoot coyotes at night in a region inhabited by rare red wolves.
Red wolves look similar to coyotes especially at night and could be shot by mistake, according to a release about the lawsuit. The Red Wolf Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife and the Animal Welfare Institute joined the suit.
“Because only one small population of wild red wolves exists, an increased loss of red wolves by gunshot could reduce their numbers to a point where they would not recover,” said Kim Wheeler, executive director of the Red Wolf Coalition.
The state allowed night hunting beginning Aug. 1 as a temporary measure to help curb the rapidly growing number of coyotes in eastern North Carolina. Coyotes are a threat to the red wolf habitat. Only about 100 red wolves live in five eastern North Carolina counties.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sterilizes coyotes in red wolf habitat, a more effective program than night shooting, according to the release.