USFWS seeks information on wolf incidentsPublished 8:48pm Monday, November 18, 2013
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is requesting assistance with an investigation involving the suspected illegal take of two more radio-collared red wolves in two separate locations south of
Columbia, in Tyrrell County. One federally protected wolf’s body was found with an apparent gunshot wound Nov. 12. In a separate location in the same county on the same day, a red-wolf radio collar was discovered with evidence that it had been cut off.
Anyone with information that directly leads to an arrest, a criminal conviction, a civil penalty assessment, or forfeiture of property on the subject or subjects responsible for the suspected unlawful take of a red wolf may be eligible for a reward of up to $2,500.
A total of 12 red wolves have died since January 1, 2013. Of those 12, three were struck and killed by vehicles, one died as a result of non-management related actions and seven were confirmed or suspected gunshot deaths. The status of the missing red wolf is currently undetermined, but appears to be the result of suspected illegal take.
The red wolf is protected under The Endangered Species Act. The maximum criminal penalties for the unlawful taking of a red wolf are one year imprisonment and $100,000 fine per individual. Anyone with information on the death of this red wolf or any others, past or future, is urged to contact resident agent in charge John Elofson at 404-763-7959, refuge officer Frank Simms at 252-216-7504, or North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Officer Robert Wayne at 252-216-8225.
The red wolf is one of the world’s most endangered wild canids. Once common throughout the southeastern United States, red-wolf populations have been decimated due to intensive predator-control programs and loss of habitat. A remnant population of red wolves was found along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana. After being declared an endangered species in 1967, efforts were initiated to locate and capture as many wild red wolves as possible. Of the 17 remaining wolves captured by biologists, 14 became the founders of a successful zoo-based breeding program. Consequently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared red wolves extinct in 1980.
The first litter of red wolves born in captivity occurred in 1977. By 1987, enough red wolves were bred in captivity to begin a restoration program on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern North Carolina. Since then, the experimental population area has expanded to include three national wildlife refuges, a Department of Defense bombing range, state-owned lands and private property, spanning a total of 1.7 million acres.
About 100 red wolves roam their native habitats in five northeastern North Carolina counties.
Additionally, nearly 200 red wolves comprise the Species Survival Plan managed breeding program in sites across the United States, still an essential element of red wolf recovery.
The red wolf is one of two species of wolves in North America, the other being the gray wolf, (Canis lupus). As their name suggests, red wolves are known for the characteristic reddish color of their fur most apparent behind the ears and along the neck and legs, but are mostly brown and buff colored with some black along their backs. Intermediate in size to gray wolves and coyotes, the average adult red wolf weighs 45 pounds to 80 pounds, stands about 26 inches at the shoulder and is about 4 feet long from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail.
Red wolves are social animals that live in packs consisting of a breeding pair and their offspring of different years, typically five to eight animals. Red wolves prey on a variety of wild mammals such as raccoon, rabbit, white-tailed deer, nutria, and other rodents. Most active at dusk and dawn, red wolves are elusive and generally avoid humans and human activity.
To learn more about red wolves and the service’s efforts to recover them, please visit www.fws.gov/redwolf.