Don't Let Congress Condemn the Red Wolf to Extinction!

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We are writing to you today to express our extreme concerns about the legislation that has been introduced over the past few years to delist the Red Wolf (Canis rufus) and/or otherwise end the recovery of this highly threatened wolf (Congress 2017; Congress 2018).

The Red Wolf is either a species or a genetically distinct hybrid that is native to the American Southeast. This wolf was subjected to extensive human persecution once Europeans colonized the country, which nearly drove it to extinction. The Red Wolf was listed as an Endangered species in 1967, and became extinct in the wild once the last fourteen survivors were removed into captivity. This wolf was reintroduced to North Carolina in 1987 and it struggles to recover, with between 45 and 60 individuals currently existing in the wild (USFWS 2017).

In addition to being listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Red Wolf is evaluated as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Kelly, Beyer, and Phillips 2008), meaning that it faces “an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild” (IUCN 2012). The reintroduced population in North Carolina is the only wild population of this wolf remaining on the planet ,and it continues to be severely threatened by illegal shooting and hybridization with Coyotes (Canis latrans).

The purpose of the ESA is stated as “to provide a program for the conservation of… endangered species” (Congress 1973), with the ESA defining an Endangered species as “any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range” (Congress 1973). The wolf delisting legislation would be a violation of the ESA since they would strip the Red Wolf of its ESA protections, would end conservation actions that are directed towards it, and could potentially result in the extinction of this Endangered wolf.

Therefore, we ask that you please veto any anti-wolf legislation that makes its way through Congress. Thank you.


IUCN. (2012). IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. Second Edition. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN. Iv + 32pp.

Kelly, B.T., Beyer, A. & Phillips, M.K. 2008. Canis rufus. The IUCN Red List of ThreatenedSpecies. Version 2014.2. <>

US Congress. 1973. Endangered Species Act. 16 U.S.C.

US Congress. 2017. Explanatory Statement for the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2018. <>

US Congress. 2018. H.R. 6119 - To remove the red wolf from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife for North Carolina, and for other purposes. <>

USFWS. 2017. Red Wolf Recovery. <>

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