Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 28, 2022


Perrin de Jong, (828) 252-4646,

New Red Wolf Recovery Plan Needs Public Input

Draft Proposes Reintroductions, Protections

RALEIGH, N.C.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today issued a revised draft recovery plan for the red wolf, the world’s most endangered canid, following a 2020 legal victory by the Center for Biological Diversity. The plan proposes several beneficial actions the federal government should take, including the establishment of new populations and ways to reduce human-caused wolf deaths.

“After 32 long years, the Service is finally modernizing its recovery plan for the most endangered canid in the world,” said Perrin de Jong, North Carolina staff attorney at the Center. “The plan sets the right tone by expanding red wolf recovery activities to multiple new populations. But more needs to be done, and the public has to push the Service to include specific sites for these populations so that critical recovery efforts can proceed without delay.”

The plan includes many beneficial elements, including a proactive vision for the species’ federal recovery program. It holds as a goal that in the future, wild and free red wolves will coexist with humans in multiple populations across the species’ historic range. It also seeks to reduce current threats to the wolves through conservation activities and earning the public’s trust and engagement.

It acknowledges that new wild populations of red wolves are critical for the species to recover and sets a goal of having three viable, wild populations in the future. However, the draft recovery plan did not identify potential new reintroduction sites in the more than 20,000 square miles of suitable habitat that were identified in a 2019 report produced by the Center.

The plan further recognizes that addressing human-caused red wolf deaths is key to recovery. It identified numerous steps to reduce these threats, including public education and outreach, and physical safety measures to reduce deaths from shooting and vehicle strikes.

“This draft shows that the Service is heading in the right direction, but we need to keep pressure on the agency to ensure that new wild populations are established and the existing wild population is protected and reinforced immediately,” said de Jong.


Last year the Biden administration officially abandoned a red wolf management rule proposed by the Trump administration that would have shrunk the species’ protected range to 10% of the current size and legalized the killing of any wolf that wandered off federal lands. In early 2022 the Service formally recommitted itself to the success of the red wolf recovery program.

Red wolves were once abundant across the Southeast, but the species is now the most endangered canid in the world. Today fewer than a dozen confirmed red wolves remain in the wild, surviving in five sparsely populated counties in eastern North Carolina. This year the first known red wolf litter since 2018 was born in the wild.

In 2020 and 2021, seven adult red wolves were released into the wild population. In 2021 alone, seven red wolves were confirmed killed by vehicle strikes, gunshots and unknown causes. Gunshots are the leading cause of death for wild red wolves, followed by vehicle strikes.

Comments on the draft plan will be accepted through Oct. 28 and can be sent to

Red wolf. Credit: B. Bartel/USFWS. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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