Columbia, NC – The Red Wolf Center at Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge has transformed from a once non-descript utilitarian facility to a work of art that Tyrrell County, North Carolina can proudly showcase. Under clear April skies, a crowd of onlookers gathered at the Center today to witness the unveiling of The Good of the Hive’s Matt Willey’s extraordinary red wolf mural. Today’s unveiling event was a collaborative effort between the Service, the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society, Weiler Woods for Wildlife and The Good of the Hive. Raising community awareness of red wolves and the work of the Service and partners on red wolf recovery, is the primary goal for the Center’s transformation.
The red wolf is the world’s most endangered wolf species and is the only wolf species that is endemic to the United States. Once common throughout the Eastern and South-Central United States, red wolf populations were decimated by the early 20th century primarily due to intensive predator control programs and habitat degradation. When the red wolf was first designated as threatened with extinction under the Endangered Species Preservation Act in 1967, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiated efforts to conserve and recover the species. Today, about 17 to 19 red wolves roam their native habitats in the eastern North Carolina Red Wolf Population Area and approximately 235 red wolves are maintained in 49 Red Wolf SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) facilities throughout the United States.
“The plight of the red wolf underscores the essential need for creative collaborative partnerships to conserve and recover imperiled species,” said Michelle Eversen, acting Deputy Regional Director for the Service’s Southeast Region. “As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, I am honored to attend a mural unveiling ceremony that highlights red wolves and encourages visitors to help conserve our nation’s native wildlife for future generations. Celebrating this incredible addition to the Red Wolf Center at Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge has been an event to remember.”
Depicting red wolves and flora and fauna native to eastern North Carolina, Willey’s mural of red wolves in a tranquil natural setting will hopefully encourage visitors to not only experience the beauty of this permanent transformation but also learn more about the special place that is eastern North Carolina.
“I am excited to be able to bring some art and conservation energy to the red wolves and their story. The Good of the Hive was never meant to be only about bees. It is about all species including red wolves, bats, giraffes and humans. We are all one hive,” said Matt Willey, muralist with The Good of the Hive. “Whether we are talking about hives, packs, herds, schools, or groups, it is not only the connectedness, but the interconnectedness of species that we need to pay attention to,” he added.
The Center has been in operation since 2007 and hosts dozens of educational programs throughout the year to complement the Red Wolf Recovery Program. It also houses the facility where Service biologists can safely work with captured or captive red wolves. Fenced-in enclosures behind the Center were constructed in 2012 using funds secured by the Red Wolf Coalition, a refuge partner. The enclosures are used to temporarily hold wild red wolves receiving health checks and to permanently house captive red wolves in a public view enclosure. The North Carolina Wildlife Federation hosts a webcam from the enclosure where wildlife and nature lovers from all over the world can get a glimpse into the lives of these red wolves. Hours of operation for the Center and program schedules are available here: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/pocosin-lakes/visit-us/locations/red-wolf-center.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) turns 50 years old in 2023 and throughout the year, the U.S. Department of the Interior will celebrate the ESA's importance in preventing imperiled species' extinction, promoting the recovery of wildlife and conserving the habitats upon which they depend. The ESA has been highly effective and is credited with saving 99% of listed species from extinction. Thus far, more than 100 species of plants and animals have been delisted based on recovery or reclassified from endangered to threatened based on improved conservation status, and hundreds more species are stable or improving thanks to the collaborative actions of Tribes, federal agencies, state and local governments, conservation organizations and private citizens.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfwssoutheast, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwssoutheast, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwssoutheast.
The Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society is a non-profit organization established and incorporated in 1989 by a group of local citizens. The purposes of the Society are two-fold: 1) To generate funds to support programs and activities of Alligator River and other national wildlife refuges in eastern North Carolina, particularly programs relating to public education and information, and 2) To assist in the recruitment of refuge volunteers. In general, the Society provides support for programs and initiatives identified by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The mission of Weiler Woods for Wildlife is to inspire the next generation to be champions for wildlife’s underdogs through art and education. This includes endangered animals, with America’s red wolf as one of our top priorities.
The vision of The Good of the Hive is for a world filled with people that see and experience the beauty and connectedness of all things.