Wildlands Network’s Southeast Program team was under the impression the USFWS was going to conduct their review of the red wolf program in-house and announce the results sometime very soon. That was bad enough, but now things have taken a bit of a turn for the worse.
They have hired the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) to conduct the review and are only accepting comments until September 12 (just a couple of weeks after they announced this plan on August 29).
They are running two strange focus group sessions, both in small towns in the red wolf zone. And they’ve posted an online survey with biased questions.
As far as we can tell, WMI has very little, if any, expertise in endangered species recovery, or even with nongame wildlife management and conservation. They did sponsor a predator conference in 2007 with Safari Club International, but most of the talks focused on the benefits of managing predators to enhance prey populations.
Jonathan Gassett, hired to run the review, resigned from the Kentucky Department of Wildlife last year after being cited for numerous ethics violations, and then promptly was arrested for a DUI.
Red wolves need our urgent protection NOW! Please email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some facts that might support your comments:
1. The red wolf program remains a good example of a successful reintroduction program.
2. Pulling the wolves after 27 years would be a reckless and irresponsible move by US FWS, a knee-jerk response to political pressure that has been applied by only a handful of outspoken landowners (the most prominent is, Jett Ferebee, a wealthy real estate developer from Greenville, NC).
3. After 27 years of red wolves, there is little evidence of any kind of collapse in wildlife populations on the Albemarle Peninsula (where the wolf recovery zone is). In fact, zooming into Tyrrell County, NC, where Mr. Ferebee has his farm, the total deer harvest has risen 375% since the start of the red wolf program in 1987! Anecdotal evidence suggests abundant populations of wild turkey and quail are also found in the red wolf recovery zone.
4. The wolves have been suffering high levels of gunshot mortality in recent years, making the problem of competition/hybridization with coyotes worse. But the proper government response is not to pull the wolves, it is to solve the crime of who is shooting these highly endangered animals.
5. Rather than cancel the program, the USFWS should be actively working to enhance and protect the existing population in eastern NC, and proceeding with needed steps to establish at least two new wild populations of wolves as called for by the Red Wolf Recovery Plan. The red wolf belongs in the wildlands of the Southeast, to protect our native biodiversity from the perils of overabundant deer and mesopredators.
6.The red wolf is one of the most endangered wild mammal species in the world, with only 100 animals in the wild population. Responsibility for protecting the wolf rests squarely with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and all US citizens should be allowed to voice their support for protecting this imperiled species.
7. Trophic cascades suggest that the presence of red wolves and large predators can help control the East’s exploding tick population.