May 16, 2014

Red wolves may be given a chance to recover!

Red wolf, © Steve Hillebrand/USFWS

A rare red wolf at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina. Red wolves and coyotes can be hard to tell apart, especially at night.

It’s a good week for wolves, especially red wolves in North Carolina. With only about 100 left in the wild, red wolves need all the protection they can get to stave off extinction. That is why Defenders and our partners have been fighting to maintain legal protections for the last remaining wolves in the American east. And, this week, we took a step toward achieving that goal! This week a court in North Carolina granted a temporary injunction against shooting coyotes in the Red Wolf Recovery Area. Because red wolves are on the small side and have rusty coloring, many people mistake them for coyotes. This has led to unintentional shootings and killings of several of the already highly endangered wolves. As the Citizen-Times reported, “at least 50 red wolves have died from confirmed or suspected gunshots since January 2008. Since 2012, five shooters who killed red wolves and reported the kills to authorities said they had mistaken the wolves for coyotes.” Hopefully, authorities in North Carolina will see that this step toward saving red wolves is essential and the court will decide to make the protection permanent.

Spring fever for OR-7??

OR-7 May 2014/Photo: USFWS

Remote camera photo of OR7 captured on 5/3/2014 in eastern Jackson County on USFS land. Shortly thereafter, the same cameras captured another wolf, believed to be OR7’s mate.

Across the country from the red wolves, everybody’s favorite wandering west coast wolf, also known as “OR-7,” seems to be enjoying the springtime weather – possibly with a new gal pal! Remote cameras from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife indicate that it is highly likely that OR-7 has found a mate. This is great news for the recovery of wolves in the Pacific Northwest and Pacific West. If OR-7 has indeed paired up, he and his lady friend would likely be denning with pups this time of year – the first wolf breeding in the Oregon Cascades in nearly 100 years! We won’t know for sure if this is the case until a bit later in the season, but odds are good! OR-7, a five year-old male, is famous for traveling back and forth from California to Oregon several times over the past few years, looking for the right place to start his own pack. Most of OR-7’s brethren live in the northern part of Oregon, but OR-7 last re-visited California back in February, and it seems he is partial to southern Oregon and northern California. With this great news, it will be important that California focus on protecting gray wolves within the state, as it seems it is only a matter of time before they’ll be back for good!


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