Sunday, February 16, 2014

USFWS Grants Landowner Permit to Kill Critically Endangered Red Wolf



Landowners who own property in the vicinity of the Red Wolf Recovery Program, a 27-year federal project aimed at restoring to the far-eastern edge of North Carolina one of nature’s most fragile species, claim red wolves are invading their private property and impacting their longstanding cultural tradition of deer hunting.   Although the deer population has dropped somewhat, NC Wildlife Resources Commission representatives believe the decline is more likely the result of increased doe hunting than impacts by red wolves.

USFWS Red Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Dave Rabon, said opposition to red wolves isn’t pervasive. Cultural differences in Eastern North Carolina make it difficult for people to support a government-funded predator program. “A lot of them will work with us,” he said. “But they’re not going to advertise it. They’re not going to put a bumper sticker on their car.”

Fourteen red wolves died in 2013 that the coalition knows about, including nine dead by suspected or confirmed gunshot wounds. Another wolf was found killed, apparently shot, on Jan. 7.  “Because of the similarity of appearance between red wolves and coyotes, it is nearly impossible for individual hunters to avoid shooting red wolves,” said the recent lawsuit that the Red Wolf Coalition and other wildlife groups filed against the state in its claim that it is not doing enough to protect.

To date, there are no known red wolf attacks on humans and few documented livestock kills. Still, resentment started building early on. Though red wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act, locals were promised that they would be classified as “nonessential and experimental,” giving landowners more leeway in dealing with them.

Farm owner Jett Ferebee has recently been granted by the USFWS the first (and only) known permit to kill one of the red wolves that they had not been able to trap and remove it from his Tyrell County property,  as long as the taking was done while trying to legally kill coyotes on his farm.

Relief for landowners depends on what they expect,” said USFWS Red Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Dave Rabon.”  Canids of some kind, whether wolves or coyotes, will always be in the area.  With Mr. Ferebee,” he said, “we’ve been very successful removing animals from his property when he’s called us. But it’s temporary. They’re going to come back. Something is going to come back.”   Rabon added that opposition isn’t pervasive. Cultural differences in Eastern North Carolina make it difficult for people to support a government-funded predator program. “A lot of them will work with us,” he said. “But they’re not going to advertise it. They’re not going to put a bumper sticker on their car.”

Fourteen red wolves died in 2013 that the Red Wolf Coalition knows about, including nine dead by suspected or confirmed gunshot wounds. Another wolf was found killed, apparently shot, on Jan. 7.   “Because of the similarity of appearance between red wolves and coyotes, it is nearly impossible for individual hunters to avoid shooting red wolves,” said the lawsuit that the Red Wolf Coalition and other wildlife groups filed against the state.

If successful, the suit could stop coyote hunting altogether in the five eastern counties. If it does, one can expect continued conflict between pro-recovery efforts and landowners.

The red wolf (Canis rufus) is one of the world's most endangered canids.  Once common throughout the eastern and southcentral United States, red wolf populations were decimated by the early part of the 20th century as a result of intensive predator control programs and habitat loss.  We oppose USFWS’ action to allow this landowner to lethally remove a red wolf. Thus, we ask that you express your opposition with a respectful email to the parties below:

By email:

cynthia_dohner@fws.gov (Regional Director, Southeast Region)

leopoldo_miranda@fws.gov (Assistant Regional Director, Southeast Region)

d_m_ashe@fws.gov (Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

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