To honor our incredible wildlife, Defenders has declared 2019 the Year of Coexistence. Over the course of the year, we'll highlight innovative ways people are sharing the landscape with wildlife.
May: Red Wolves
The red wolf has faced an embattled road to recovery since its listing in the first class of the Endangered Species Act. As the first carnivore successfully reintroduced into the wild, the red wolf recovery program became a model for the reintroduction of gray wolves to Yellowstone. The red wolf population in North Carolina grew to over 150 at its highest point, but when a vocal minority of local landowners took an interest and got in the ear of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, things started to go downhill.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has all but given up on the program in recent years. No more cross-fostering of pups or reintroductions. No more active management of coyotes. The population has dropped to fewer than 25.
Although the majority of North Carolinians support red wolf recovery, public misconception and intolerance also pose a significant challenge. To address these challenges, incentive-based coexistence strategies will play a critical role in safeguarding the red wolf's future. Ultimately, Defenders will continue to influence sound science and policy, educate the public and protect the red wolf from extinction.