Judge Refutes Trump Administration Decision on Red Wolf Conservation

red wolf

A red wolf strolls at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Steve Hillebrand/USFWS

On Nov. 5, a federal judge ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to uphold a congressional mandate to defend and conserve the critically endangered red wolf in Eastern North Carolina, where the world’s only wild population of red wolves lives in a five-county area on the Albemarle Peninsula.

In his order, Chief Judge Terrence Boyle of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina made permanent the Obama administration’s 2016 order to end the Fish and Wildlife Service’s shoot-to-kill authorization, which means that neither the agency nor private landowners can capture and kill red wolves that roam off their refuge unless the agency can prove that a wolf is a threat to humans or livestock.

The court’s decision stands to significantly alter the agency’s June proposal to decrease the protected habitat of the endangered wolves by nearly 90 percent. The plan would have limited red wolves to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and an Air Force bombing range.

The Southern Environmental Law Center, the nonprofit law firm that filed the case on behalf of several environmental organizations, states that as few as 24 red wolves remain in the wild — all in Eastern North Carolina. — By Kennedy Kavanaugh


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