Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Service Halts Red Wolf Reintroductions Pending Examination of Recovery Program
Will manage animals already in the wild under existing rules for non-essential, experimental population

June 30, 2015


Tom MacKenzie, USFWS

Crouching red wolf.

Red wolf. Credit: Seth Bynum, PDZA.
Higher Quality Version of Image

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it will suspend its reintroductions of red wolf into the wild while it gathers additional science and research into the feasibility of recovery for the species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service intends to complete its review by the end of 2015. Existing red wolves located in five eastern North Carolina counties will be managed in accordance with rules put in place in 1995 to govern this population, designated “non-essential, experimental” under the ESA.

This decision was made after a comprehensive evaluation of the population and its role in the overall recovery effort for red wolves by The Wildlife Management Institute in November.

In light of this evaluation (available at and the substantial management history of the population in Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell, and Washington counties, the Service found more work is needed to determine both lessons learned and the role of these wolves in the overall recovery effort.

“The Wildlife Management Institute’s review identified a number of areas where we have been successful, a number of areas that need improvement, and highlighted a number of uncertainties and serious challenges for the ultimate recovery of the red wolf,” said Cindy Dohner, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director. “As we’ve said before, we recognize too that there were misunderstandings, particularly about the non-essential, experimental population, and we did not always meet the expectations we set. Now, we need to do a thorough and deliberate evaluation of the red wolf recovery program.

“There will likely be some who will suggest we are walking away from recovery efforts for the red wolf and simultaneously there will be others who might say we’re holding on too tight,” she added. “We have a responsibility under the ESA to provide good management and shepherd the conservation and recovery of this species to the best of our ability. What we are announcing today holds true to those responsibilities and the expectations of our citizens and partners.”

As part of the process, the Service is exploring the idea of establishing a forum for stakeholder involvement.

“These actions are the next steps in our commitment to get the science right, rebuild trust with our neighbors in those communities, our state partners and many stakeholders as we address issues regarding the overall recovery of the red wolf,” Dohner added.

For more information on the red wolf program, please visit:, or download the Questions and Answers.

The ESA provides a critical safety net for fish, wildlife and plants and has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species, as well as promoting the recovery of many others. The Service is actively engaged with conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species.

Below is a recording from the news conference on June 30, 2015:



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