June 5, 2014

North Carolina Commission Requests Formal Evaluation of Red Wolf Reintroduction Program

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) recently sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) requesting a formal evaluation of the red wolf reintroduction program in northeastern North Carolina.  The WRC letter calls for “an immediate programmatic evaluation using the abundance of existing data to determine feasibility of achieving a stable, ‘self-sustaining’ red wolf population on ‘federal lands’ as prescribed in the Red Wolf Recovery Plan.” Additionally, the WRC denied the USFWS’s request for authorization to release sterilized coyotes in the reintroduction area, but did approve the continuance of trapping coyotes provided they are euthanized once trapped.

The red wolf program has recently come under increased scrutiny concerning the success of the program and the potential negative impacts of red wolves on state wildlife management objectives.  The WRC is ultimately seeking a determination on the ability of the Service to successfully manage and continue the 27 year old “non-essential, experimental” program as outlined in their Red Wolf Recovery Plan.

The WRC also posted a notice for a public hearing and public comments regarding the temporary rules on coyote hunting in the five-county red wolf reintroduction area.  A recent federal court order halted all previously-approved coyote hunting, day or night, in the five-country reintroduction area.  The court order is a result of a federal lawsuit filed in December 2013 against the WRC asking for a temporary injunction against all coyote hunting practices allowed by the Commission in the five counties encompassing the red wolf recovery area, due to the potential of incidental take of red wolves.

The hearing is scheduled for the June 19 at 7:00 pm in the Columbia High School auditorium in Columbia, North Carolina.  Public comments can be submitted until June 23 by emailing regulations@ncwildlife.org or mailing N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, 1701 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1701.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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