WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife today filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Trump administration for failing to prepare an updated recovery plan for the United States’ rapidly dwindling population of endangered red wolves.
In response to a 2016 petition for a revised recovery plan filed by animal protection and conservation organizations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pledged to update the wolf’s decades-old recovery plan by the end of last year. It has not done so.
“The red wolf can be saved, but if the Trump administration won’t update its severely outdated recovery plan, this animal could be lost forever,” said Collette Adkins, the Center’s carnivore conservation director. “I'm hopeful this lawsuit will spur a new plan where science, not politics, drives management of the world’s most endangered wolf.”
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.
“We are asking the Trump administration to move red wolf conservation forward and end this unnecessary and dangerous delay,” said Jason Rylander, senior endangered species counsel at Defenders of Wildlife. “Without meaningful action this iconic species could go extinct in the wild. That would be a huge loss.”
The red wolf has been reduced to a single population in eastern North Carolina with as few as 18 known individuals left. Last year the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to eliminate at least half of the wild population and reduce by more than 90 percent the recovery area where the wolves can safely roam. The agency has stopped taking actions necessary for red wolf recovery, such as its coyote-sterilization program to prevent hybrid animals from harming the gene pool.
Today’s notice letter starts a 60-day clock after which the conservation groups can file their lawsuit to compel the Fish and Wildlife Service to comply with the Endangered Species Act.