Defenders of Wildlife staff joined communities from the Charlotte, North Carolina region on May 20 to celebrate and contribute to red wolf conservation in honor of Endangered Species Day. More than 50 attended the event and enjoyed live music and wildlife-inspired art. The gathering raised over $7,000 for red wolf coexistence programs, which is equivalent to approximately 70 non-lethal conflict management toolkits that will be distributed to community members.
“Wolves are a keystone species and crucial players in balancing the ecosystem they live in. They have an intrinsic role and right to exist on our planet,” said Heather Clarkson, a Southeast outreach representative. “Events like this provide an opportunity for us to engage with communities within the historic range of red wolves. Defenders is not only advocating for the recovery of red wolves in the courtroom but also educating and empowering people who coexist with these species to be better stewards.”
Attendees had the chance to examine the contents of Defenders’ red wolf conflict management toolkit, which includes motion sensor lights, cameras and deterrents like air horns which discourage wolves from entering private property. By minimizing conflict between humans and wolves, both the community and wildlife may coexist safely.
“There are still many people who are unaware of what red wolves are so I was especially thrilled to discuss these amazing animals with attendees as well as curious passerbys. I hope our passion for red wolves will ignite interest for future events.”
This event was organized by a team of red wolf ambassadors, volunteers who work closely with the Defenders field team to engage diverse communities in red wolf recovery efforts across North Carolina. The ambassadors play a crucial role in reaching groups beyond the typical conservation-minded supporter base.
Once common throughout the Southeast, red wolves faced extinction in the late 1970s due to intensive predator-control programs and habitat loss. As a result, biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service captured the last remaining wild individuals to initiate a never-before-tried captive breeding program. In 1987, four wild pairs were reintroduced into Alligator National Wildlife Refuge, making red wolves the first successfully reintroduced carnivore in the wild.
Defenders of Wildlife is celebrating 75 years of protecting all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With a nationwide network of nearly 2.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit defenders.org/newsroom and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.