Breaking! Yesterday, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Proposed Drastic Plan That Would Allow Killing Of North Carolina’s Endangered Red Wolves

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Another day, another animal welfare disappointment coming from the Trump Administration.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed drastic management plan changes yesterday that would allow the killing of endangered red wolves in North Carolina.

Sadly, as few as 30 endangered red wolves are currently left in the wild in North Carolina, and, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, the population could be just eight years away from extinction.

As if that is not tragic enough, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s new plan would eliminate protections for all red wolves that wander off federal property and curtail the previous goals for range and population size.

This proposal follows the agency’s April report that identified deliberate killing by private residents as a primary cause of the species’ endangerment.

“The Trump administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service is declaring open season to kill the last of America’s red wolves, which are on the verge of extinction,” Perrin de Jong, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity in Asheville, N.C. said in a statement.  “The Service already turned its back on wild red wolf recovery when it stopped supporting introductions of captive-bred wolves to the wild. Now the agency wants to drive the last nail into the coffin for these magnificent animals.”

The Service’s plan suggests shrinking the wild population of red wolves to fewer than 15. The plan would reduce the wolves’ target range from a five-county area to only the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and Dare County Bombing Range.

It would also authorize anyone to kill any wolf spotted outside of these federal properties. Those who choose to kill red wolves would not even be required to report these killings to the Service unless the wolf was wearing a tracking collar.

In April the Service’s red wolf Species Status Review documented an increase in human-caused red wolf deaths through gunshot, poisoning and suspected illegal activity, which is a major factor in the wild population’s current decline. The April report also called for increasing the number of breeding pairs of wolves.

“Most people in North Carolina want more protection for red wolves, but Fish and Wildlife is throwing in the towel,” said de Jong. “Essentially the agency is proposing these terrible changes because red wolves in eastern North Carolina are perceived as an inconvenience for coyote hunters. That’s despicable.”

Nearly all the public comments submitted to the agency this past summer support recovering the wild red wolf population in the southeastern United States. More than 98% of comments submitted by North Carolinians and 68.4% of comments from residents in the current five-county recovery area supported robust protection and recovery of red wolves in the wild.

Comment submission: You may submit written comments on this proposed rule and draft environmental assessment by July 30th by one of the following methods:

(1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS–R4–ES–2018–0035, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, click on the Search button. On the resulting page, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, check the Proposed Rules box to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on ‘‘Comment Now!’’

(2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R4–ES–2018– 0035, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803.

Public information session and public hearing: The public information session and the public hearing will occur on July 10th at Roanoke Festival Park, One Festival Park, Manteo, NC 27954. The public information session is scheduled from 5:30 pm. to 6:30 pm., and the public hearing from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

For further information contact: Pete Benjamin, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Raleigh Ecological Services Field Office, 551F Pylon Drive, Raleigh, NC 27606; telephone 919–856– 4520; or facsimile 919–856–4556.

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