Thursday, November 21, 2013

USFWS offers reward for information on shooting of fifth endangered red wolf in North Carolina in past month

The federal governments' principal fish and wildlife agency is offering a reward for information about the shooting of another red wolf in North Carolina.

Five of the critically endangered mammals have been gunned down in the state just within the last month. The latest victim, shot on or about Nov. 18, was the eighth at the hands of a gunman this year.

Canis rufus was once a common mammal in the American southeast. Efforts to eradicate predators and loss of habitat sent the population plummeting to less than two dozen individuals by the late 1960s. Captive breeding began in 1977 and, in 1980, the species was declared extinct in the wild.

USFWS re-introduced the red wolf to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and, later, to several other sites. There are now about 100 individuals in the wild.

An adult Canis rufus is larger than an adult coyote, but smaller than a full-grown gray wolf (Canis lupus).

Informants are urged to contact USFWS resident agent-in-charge John Elofson at (404) 763-7959, USFWS refuge officer Frank Simms at (252) 216-7504, or North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission officer Robert Wayne at (252) 216-8225.

Killing an endangered animal is a violation of the Endangered Species Act. Conviction could result in one year's imprisonment and a maximum fine of $100,000.

The reward could total up to $26,000.

Photos courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The lower photograph shows the red wolf killed by gunfire in North Carolina on Nov. 18.