Sunday, 22 November 2015

Conservation groups allege US has failed to protect endangered red wolf

US Fish and Wildlife Service has allowed one of world’s rarest wolves to be killed, as an estimated 50 to 75 are left in North Carolina wilderness, lawsuit alleges

Oliver Milman in New York

Tuesday 17 November 2015 18.52 GMT

The US government has failed to properly protect the red wolf, one of the world’s rarest wolves, by allowing a member of the species’ small wild population to be killed, conservationists have claimed.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has been taken to court by a coalition of environmental groups that argues it has not properly protected the endangered red wolf, with estimates of just 50 to 75 of the animals left in the wild in North Carolina.

A lawsuit filed with the US district court for the eastern district of North Carolina states that the FWS permitted a landowner to kill an adult female red wolf in June that was known to have mothered a total of 16 pups through four litters.

This killing, along with a previous shooting of a red wolf last year, represents a “direct violation” of regulations around the capture of wolves on private property, the lawsuit claims.

The environment groups – the Red Wolf Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife and the Animal Welfare Institute – also allege that the FWS has failed to properly review the status of red wolves and has unduly suspended the reintroduction of the species from captivity into the wild.

The red wolf, which is smaller than a grey wolf, weighing around 40 to 50lb, once roamed an area stretching from Missouri to Texas and into North Carolina. The species, a top predator in the region, was largely wiped out over the past 100 years due to shooting and habitat loss.

The species was effectively extinct in the wild in 1980 when the FWS took the remaining red wolves into captivity for breeding. From an initial population of 14, there are now around 200 in captivity. Given this captive population, the FWS does not consider the species to be in imminent danger of becoming extinct if a wild wolf is shot.

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