Partners, stakeholders, and residents from the local eastern North Carolina community joined the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for an informational meeting and listening session focused on plans regarding a recent transfer and upcoming court-ordered release of nine red wolves into the wild on the mainland of eastern N.C.
Red wolves, which are native to the southeastern United States, have dwindled to only a handful in the wild scattered across parts of Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell, Washington and Beaufort counties.
According to a USFWS press release, the recently held virtual meeting marks the Service’s renewed effort to recover the red wolf, the only species of wolf endemic only to the U.S., and the most endangered wolf in the world. The Service’s renewed red wolf recovery effort will include an emphasis on community and partner engagement.
“We are committed, more than ever before, to working with our partners – the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, landowners, and other stakeholders – to identify ways to encourage and facilitate a coexistence between people and red wolves,” said Catherine Phillips, the Service’s Assistant Regional Director in the South Atlantic-Gulf and Mississippi Basin Regions.
“The recent meeting allowed us to hear from the local community and stakeholders, and to share with them what we are doing and plan to do going forward. We cannot recover the red wolf without them,” Phillips said. “We look forward to this new era of communication, transparency, and collaboration with our partners on this extremely important journey.”
By listening to and engaging with dozens of landowners and stakeholders, USFWS hopes to obtain input from all our conservation partners. As this input is invaluable and will help us recover this iconic species, USFWS has appointed a community liaison and have set up a red wolf recovery hotline at 1-855-4-Wolves (1-855-496-5837).
“The Commission appreciates the Service’s efforts to work collaboratively with all stakeholders on the Albemarle Peninsula as they increase the numbers of red wolves released on federal land,” said Cameron Ingram, Executive Director of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. “We remain committed to working with the Service and all stakeholders to promote the successful outcome of the releases and the continued efforts to improve early successional habitat that benefits numerous species, all while minimizing impacts to landowners.”
Red wolves once inhabited a vast region from southern New York to central Texas, including the entire Southeastern United States. By the 1970s, red wolves had been driven to near extinction due to overhunting and habitat loss. In 1973, red wolves were officially listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
The red wolves transferred into the NC NEP, which encompasses Alligator River and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuges, include a family group and two breeding pairs and will play a critical role in the recovery of the only wild population of their species. SSP partner facilities involved in the transfers include the Endangered Wolf Center, NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, Rowan Wild, Western North Carolina Nature Center, and Zoo Knoxville. The Service is currently preparing these nine red wolves for release.