Conservation groups notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today that they intend to sue the federal agency over its management of the Red Wolf Recovery Program.
The groups say the Fish and Wildlife Service has failed in its responsibility to protect red wolves. The nearly 30-year old program is an effort to re-introduce the animals that were extinct in the wild.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has violated the law and its responsibility to protect the world’s only wild population of red wolves which now numbers only 50-75 animals,” said Sierra Weaver, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center who represents conservation groups, in a statement. “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must rededicate itself to ensuring the survival of America’s rarest wolf and restore the former successful recovery of this endangered species.”
During public comment sessions last year, landowners complained that the red wolves often ventured onto their land. The rapid expanse and breeding with coyotes has also complicated the claim that the red wolves are a distinct species.
Earlier this summer, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced it was suspending parts of the program, pending further review.
In June, the U.S. FWS allowed a red wolf mother to be killed on private property, an action the SELC and the conservation groups say is illegal.
“Allowing the killing of a breeding female wolf is the exact opposite of managing red wolves for recovery,” said Jason Rylander, senior attorney for Defenders of Wildlife, in a statement.
The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service says its current review of the program will be completed by the end of the year.