Last week the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) posted new proposed regulations for managing the Red Wolf Recovery Program. You can read the proposal in its entirety here:
There are several parts of the proposed changes and multiple ways to look at them. For the wolves left in the wild, the future is difficult. The proposal limits the protected area to federal lands in one county. The area is about one tenth of the space previously protected. The fate of the wolves that roam outside this area will be unknown. The wolves will have no protection and their fate will be up to the landowners where the wolves may wander.
There are silver linings in this proposed change. The FWS still considers the red wolf an animal worth protecting and FWS will enhance support for the captive population. A reintroduction site is also noted as something FWS has on the list for the future.
I am still digesting the information, communicating with my peers at the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP), and reading newspaper articles and press releases from numerous conservation agencies. I am grappling with mixed emotions as well.
The Museum housed its first red wolf in November of 1992, and I started working with the red wolves in February of 1993. For more than 25 years the Museum has been involved in red wolf conservation, and we will continue to do so. Our role is more important now than ever. We need to continue to house and maintain genetically healthy red wolves for the future. We need to talk with visitors and guests about the history, plight, and future of these animals. We need to share what science and evidence tells us in an understandable and tractable way.
It is important to note that the proposed rule by FWS is just that. Proposed. We are in the 30-day comment period when everyone can respond. This comment period is required by law, and it gives the public a chance to tell the government how they feel about this issue. We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to be heard.
I’ll post more wolf information later in the week. In the meantime, you are welcome to ask questions in the comment section.