U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Southeast Region News Release

For Immediate Release                             Vicki M. Boatwright

April 13, 1995                               Diana M. Hawkins



The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it has revised the special rules for management of the experimental, nonessential populations of the red wolf, addressing concerns of communities in North Carolina and Tennessee where the endangered animal has been reintroduced.

The revised rule provides for consistency in the management of the two populations; changes the "take" provisions to both provide for incidental taking of red wolves and to protect private landowners against the unwanted presence of or depredations by red wolves; and removes special protection for wolves wandering outside the experimental population boundaries. The revised rule was published as a final rule in the Federal Register on April 13, 1995.

In announcing the revised rule, Southeast Regional Director Noreen K. Clough said, "We have enjoyed excellent community support for the red wolf recovery program. We view this revision as responsive to the public and essential to maintaining that support. This rule also demonstrates that the Endangered Species Act is flexible enough to protect threatened and endangered species without jeopardizing the rights of citizens."

A survey conducted by North Carolina State University found that residents of five eastern North Carolina counties support efforts to reintroduce the red wolf. Of 600 people interviewed in Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington counties, 51.7 percent said they support the reintroduction, while 30.2 percent said they oppose it. The remaining 18.1 percent offered no opinion.

The revised rule permits landowners to take, on private land, red wolves that are in the act of killing livestock or pets, provided that freshly wounded or killed livestock or pets are evident. Private landowners may also harass red wolves on private land by methods that are not lethal or injurious to the animals, as a means of removing unwanted red wolves from their property. Such incidents are to be reported to the Service or to a State wildlife enforcement officer. The revised rule continues to prohibit intentional and willful taking of red wolves on private lands.

Of 31 complaints filed over the 7 1/2-year life of the reintroduction program, investigators found that red wolves were not involved in 15 cases, and of the remaining 16, 11 involved complaints about wolves being where they were not wanted, but not causing any adverse impact. The remaining 5 cases included two involving harassment of dogs. The last 3 involved reported depredations, but only 1 incident could be confirmed.

Deer harvest, meanwhile, has continued to increase in counties containing red wolves and some landowners have even reported an increase in trophy-size bucks, as well as a general increase in the overall deer population. In Hyde County, one extension agent reported that 1,000 deer a year are killed to protect crops. If the number were expanded to include other counties, it would mean about 2,500 deer are killed each year for crop protection -- more than 10 times the number taken in a year by red wolves.

The Service will attempt to recapture and remove animals from private land when necessary. If unsuccessful, the Service will provide written approval for private landowners to take offending animals. All takings, including harassment, must be reported to appropriate state or federal authorities within 24 hours.

The rule revision also stipulates that a red wolf taken on public lands incidental to an otherwise legal activity will not be a violation of the Act.

The intent of the special rule regarding the recapture of wolves that leave Federal land applies only when those wolves cause conflicts and/or a landowner wants the animals removed. Review of the previous special rule by Service officials showed that this intent was not clear.

Several landowners in North Carolina and Tennessee have agreed to allow wolves to inhabit their property. While the special rule provides that all landowner requests to remove wolves will be honored, wolves inhabiting land where the landowner agrees to allow them residence will not routinely be recaptured unless a conflict arises that causes the landowner to request removal.

The special rule also provides clarification regarding the vaccination of red wolves against disease prior to their release and the recapture of any wolves that leave Federal land. The special rule states that all released or captured wolves will be vaccinated, but it recognizes that there will be reproduction of wolves in the wild and that these animals can only be vaccinated if and when they are captured.

The changes address the need for consistency and flexibility in the management of red wolf populations as addressed in a proposed rule published in the Federal Register on November 24, 1993 (58 FR 62086) and which was modified based on public comments.

X X X Release #95-30

1995 News Releases

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