However, a judge has now ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service to release captive-bred red wolves back into the wild in a landmark conservation effort to repopulate the species.
After numbers depleted greatly on the East Coast due to habitat loss and hunting, the species had already been reintroduced to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina by the Fish and Wildlife Service previously, with a release programme starting in the 1980s. The programme continued for three decades and was dubbed one of the most successful predator reintroductions in history, even setting a blueprint for the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone. But the project ceased in 2015 with approximately 130 known individual red wolves roaming the wild, and as hunting was still permitted in the area, the wild population soon sadly fell again.
Now, conservationist group Red Wolf Coalition, represented by The Southern Environmental Law Center, have won their suit against the federal government with Judge Terrence Boyle stating that the current status of the programme “likely violates the Endangered Species Act.”
The red wolf is the world’s most endangered member of the dog family, according to National Geographic. Smaller than grey wolves, they have a tawny sheen to their fur and are their own distinct species. You can support the Red Wolf Coalition and read more about their campaign here.