Pamlico Albemarle Wildlife Conservationists celebrates first year

Published 4:45 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2016

From Pamlico Albemarle Wildlife Conservationists


Members of Pamlico Albemarle Wildlife Conservationists (PAWC) gathered March 19 to hear about the accomplishments of the group since its debut a year ago. Dr. Ron Sutherland gave a presentation on the red wolf, including a thorough look at red wolf genetics and the prospects of the Red Wolf Recovery Program. Attila Nemecz, president of PAWC, presented the accomplishments of the organization.

Dr. Ron Sutherland is a conservation biologist with the Wildlands Network, an organization looking to protect large predators and the wilderness areas and corridors they need to survive. He has been studying the impacts of the red wolf on other species of wildlife by using trail cameras in Alligator River and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuges as well as on private lands. The cameras capture images of wildlife that walk by, including deer, black bears and bobcats. The cameras can be an intriguing look into the private lives of wildlife. Sutherland noted that there has been no statistical drop in deer populations since wolf reintroduction began. He also spent some time picking through data that shows that red wolves are distinct from coyotes and gray wolves.

The Red Wolf Recovery Program has been in jeopardy recently as the NC Wildlife Resources Commission has asked the US Fish and Wildlife Service to reevaluate and discontinue the program. The red wolf population has declined over the past few years as both gunshot deaths and vehicular deaths have increased. In the last decade, the population has gone from a high of 120 animals to less than 50 wolves in the wild.

Attila Nemecz took a look at the accomplishments of PAWC during its first year. The group, a chapter of the NC Wildlife Federation, attracted more new members than any other chapter in 2015. Its members constructed a handicapped hunting blind at Pocosin Lakes NWR with funding from the NC Wildlife Federation. They won on a number of issues, including the cancellation of an alligator hunting season, the scrapping of a plan to kill Canada geese in Washington, and the protection of the VOA site for the Henslow’s sparrow. PAWC has also supported the Save Blounts Creek campaign.

“The momentum is ours,” claimed Nemecz, citing the recent cancellation of the giant Titan cement plant and plans to drill for oil off the coast of North Carolina. “There is no reason to think that we are not going to save Blounts Creek as well.”

The group sponsored a number of classes on organic gardening at Beaufort County Community College to promote the planting of pollinator-friendly plants. The group purchased soil and seeds for the class, as well as covering registration costs for its members. Its pollinator project will also be selling plants throughout the year to get more people to have wildlife-friendly yards.

PAWC participated in a number of festivals over the past year including the Bear Festival in Plymouth, Cycle NC in Washington and the Inter-Coastal Waterway Festival in Belhaven. It hopes to continue its work over the next year by getting more people out into wild places in the region, attending more festivals and winning more victories for wildlife. Currently, PAWC is challenging a management plan for Lake Mattamuskeet that would flood surrounding farmlands year-round and threaten its role as a wintering ground for tundra swans and other waterfowl.

Pamlico Albemarle Wildlife Conservationists is a chapter of the NC Wildlife Federation, advocating for the wildlife and wild places of the peninsula. It focuses on wildlife conservation issues in Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Martin, Pamlico, Pitt, Tyrrell and Washington Counties. Anyone interested in joining can contact, call 252-940-8672 or visit PAWC’s Facebook site.