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 a Senate provision in the 2018 Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill that would declare the Red Wolf (Canis rufus) extinct and end the Red Wolf Recovery Program (Congress 2017). In addition, we wish to express our extreme concerns over the possibility of future legislation being introduced that would negatively impact this highly endangered species.

The Red Wolf is a species of medium-sized wolf 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 actions proposed in the Senate provision and any future anti-wolf legislation would be a violation of the ESA since they would end conservation actions that are directed towards the Red Wolf and could potentially result in the extinction of this Endangered species.

We ask that you please remove this anti-wolf provision from the bill. In addition, we ask that you please vote against any future legislation that would negatively impact the Red Wolf. 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. <>

USFWS. 2017. Red Wolf Recovery. <>

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