Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Update: Red Wolf Recovery Review Progressing Towards Recommendations

October 27, 2015


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

An adult red wolf photographed from the side as it walks slowly

Adult Red wolf. Credit: Brad McPhee, Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
Higher Quality Version of Image

In June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its intent to gather additional science and research to guide recovery of the red wolf, protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for more than four decades.  At that time, the Service reaffirmed its management practices would be confined to the 1995 special rule (10j) currently in place.  Since that announcement, the Service has taken steps to involve state partners and key stakeholders in this review that will support the agency’s recovery effort in future actions for red wolves.   

The Service is adjusting its timeframe to complete the review addressing what may be needed for recovery and whether it can be implemented across the landscape by summer 2016.  One step the Service is taking today is to reconvene a multi-faceted red wolf recovery team to address current and future needs to restore red wolves in the wild.  The Service is responsible under the ESA to provide the best science-based conservation management aimed at recovering the red wolf.  This review is part of the Service’s continuing commitment to get the science right and foster trust with stakeholders as issues regarding the recovery of the red wolf are addressed and implemented.

The Service is working closely with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), academia, non-governmental organizations, and private landowners to gather the best available science on four components:

  1. appropriate taxonomic designation and historic distribution of the red wolf;
  2. long-term viability of the captive red wolf population;
  3. recovery needs of the red wolf population given pressures such as hybridization with coyotes, human caused mortality, and climate change; and
  4. how people and red wolves can co-exist.

Recovery teams are important and are often used to bring together the diversity of expertise necessary to devise an effective recovery program for a federally protected species.  These teams have numerous advantages including: reconciling diverse opinions and dialogue, increasing depth of expertise in support of the Service’s recovery obligations, and providing a mechanism for multiple agencies and stakeholders to interact and participate in the recovery planning and implementation of actions necessary to recover and sustain the listed species. 

The red wolf recovery team members were selected based on professional expertise or experience in one or more of the four components of the review and for the next steps in planning and implementation.  The team members are:

  • Pete Benjamin, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • David Cobb, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
  • Jett Ferebee, Landowner
  • Eric Gese, USDA/APHIS/WS/National Wildlife Research Center
  • Sarah Long, Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Mike Phillips, Turner Endangered Species Fund
  • Ben Prater, Defenders of Wildlife 
  • Bill Rich, Hyde County
  • Christopher Serenari, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
  • Michael Stoskopf, North Carolina State University
  • Herb Vanderberry, North Carolina Farm Bureau
  • Will Waddell, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
  • Lisette Waits, University of Idaho

The diverse composition of the recovery team reflects the Service’s commitment to ensure its actions are first, and foremost, grounded in sound science, while also addressing any identified shortcomings of its past recovery efforts, especially in terms of engaging landowners more effectively in recovery planning and implementation as needed.  The Service is grateful to these team members who are making time in their schedules to be actively engaged in the process.

The primary task for the recovery team, guided by the science experts, will be to review the best available information provided for the each of four components when it meets in December.  The team will then develop a recommendation to the Service on recovery of the red wolf, as well as address the current challenges on the landscape facing recovery of this imperiled species.     

The Service also is working with the NCWRC to develop a Canid Forum to allow for additional stakeholder involvement in North Carolina.  The Canid Forum will provide a venue for the State and Federal wildlife agencies to inform the public on issues related to red wolves and coyotes and to hear concerns and feedback regarding management of these species.  Specific details on the structure and timing of the Canid Forum are being developed and more information about it will be made available once that work is complete.

For more information on the red wolf program, please visit: 

Download the Red Wolf Recovery Plan Questions and Answers (PDF)

Download the audio recording.

Information contained in older news items may be outdated. These materials are made available as historical archival information only. Individual contacts have been replaced with general External Affairs office information. No other updates have been made to the information and we do not guarantee current accuracy or completeness.

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