$2 Million Offered For Wildlife Crossings To Protect Endangered Red Wolves; Fewer Than 25 Remain In The Wild

An anonymous donor has pledged a $2 million match to fund wildlife crossings across a North Carolina highway that’s especially deadly to critically endangered red wolves.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Wildlands Network, and coalition partners aim to raise $2 million to match the funds by August 1st.

Sadly, fewer than 25 red wolves remain in the wild and four have been killed by vehicle strikes in the past year. Vehicle strikes are the second-leading cause of mortality for red wolves.

“I’m grateful for this exciting and unprecedented opportunity to save red wolves from extinction and protect human lives,” said Will Harlan, southeast director at the Center. “Wildlife crossings along one of North Carolina’s most dangerous highways are crucial to protecting the world’s most endangered wolf.”

The $2 million matching challenge is targeted specifically for wildlife crossings along Highway 64 in red wolf refuges in eastern North Carolina. If an additional $2 million can be raised by the Center and allies, the funds can leverage an additional $16 million in federal funds — for a total of $20 million to build wildlife crossings in the red wolf refuges.

All four red wolves that were killed by vehicle strikes this past year were along or near Highway 64, which passes through the heart of Alligator River and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge — the only places on the planet where wild red wolves remain.

Vehicle traffic continues to increase along the highway, one of the main roads to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a popular coastal tourist destination. Meanwhile, red wolf populations have plummeted by 81% in the past decade.

Wildlife crossings have already been studied and prioritized for Highway 64. Research from the North Carolina Department of Transportation and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has identified key locations along Highway 64 where wildlife crossings would be most beneficial to red wolves and dozens of other species, including black bears, bobcats, and river otters.

Wildlife crossings along Highway 64 would also protect human lives. Wildlife collisions kill more than 200 people in the United States every year and cause $10 billion in damages. North Carolina is considered by insurance companies to be a high-risk state for wildlife collisions, and 7% of all vehicle crashes statewide involve animal strikes.

“Wildlife crossings in red wolf refuges are a win-win for human and wildlife safety,” said Harlan. “We hope donors and the public will step up in this critical moment to save human lives and give endangered red wolves a fighting chance at survival.”

“Wildlife road crossings combined with guide fencing are the scientifically proven way to greatly reduce the number of collisions that occur between vehicles and wild animals on our highways,” said Ron Sutherland, chief scientist at Wildlands Network. “This challenge grant gives us the opportunity to leverage public donations by an incredible 9:1 ratio, if NCDOT and partners are successful in winning a grant from the Federal Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program.”

A coalition of organizations led by the Center for Biological Diversity and Wildlands Network have created SaveRedWolves.org to raise funds for wildlife crossings and to share stories, photos, and videos of red wolves.

Donations to the matching fund can be made HERE or by contacting Gretchen Mais, deputy development director for the Center at gmais@biologicaldiversity.org or (520) 345-5733.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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