WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Trump administration today for failing to prepare an updated recovery plan for the red wolf, a critically endangered native species that has declined to just 14 known individuals in the wild. Without help the once-common species — now isolated in North Carolina — could be extinct in the wild within five years.
In response to a 2016 petition by animal-protection and conservation organizations seeking a revised recovery plan, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pledged to update the wolf’s decades-old recovery plan by the end of 2018. It has not done so.
“It’s outrageous that the Trump administration is sitting on its hands while red wolves spiral toward extinction,” said Collette Adkins, the Center’s carnivore conservation director. “This is a desperate situation. Hopefully this lawsuit will be the catalyst that finally gets the feds to do what’s needed to save red wolves.”
A new red wolf recovery plan would outline actions necessary to save red wolves in the wild, including additional reintroductions. Last month the Center released a report identifying five potential reintroduction sites that together could support nearly 500 breeding pairs of red wolves. All the sites are on public lands in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
The Endangered Species Act requires that the Fish and Wildlife Service prepare plans that serve as roadmaps to species recovery, identifying measures needed to ensure conservation and survival.
The Service last updated the red wolf’s recovery plan in 1990. Since then red wolves have faced changes in their management and additional threats from increased poaching and hybridization with coyotes.
“If we don’t act now, we could witness the end of this species in the wild. That’s a loss not just for the wolves but for all of us,” said Adkins. “Future generations deserve a chance to see these beautiful wolves in the wild.”
Once common throughout the southeastern United States, red wolves have been reduced to a single wild population in eastern North Carolina. The Fish and Wildlife Service has stopped taking actions — such as the release of captive-bred wolves and sterilization of coyotes to prevent hybrid animals from harming the gene pool — that are necessary to conserve the remaining wild population.