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A dead red wolf shows signs of decomposition in the understory.
Information icon Gunshot red wolf found on private property north of the Town of Swanquarter, in western Hyde County, North Carolina, on Tuesday, November 19, 2013. Photo by USFWS.

Federal officials request assistance in sixth gunshot red wolf reward up to $26,000

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is requesting assistance with an investigation involving the suspected illegal take of a sixth red wolf in the last four weeks. In the latest death, the federally protected wolf’s body was recovered from private property north of the Town of Swanquarter, in western Hyde County, North Carolina, on Tuesday, November 19, 2013. The red wolf’s body had an apparent gunshot wound.

Anyone with information that directly leads to an arrest, a criminal conviction, a civil penalty assessment, or forfeiture of property on the subject or subjects responsible for the suspected unlawful take of a red wolf may be eligible for a reward.

Pledged contributions from the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Red Wolf Coalition, Humane Society of the United States, and the Center for Biological Diversity have increased the reward amount for information on the suspected illegal take of the six radio-collared red wolves, five of which that were found dead in the last month in Hyde, Washington, and Tyrrell counties, North Carolina. Note: Only the cut-off radio collar was found from one of those wolves. A person providing essential information that directly leads to an arrest, a criminal conviction, on the subject or subjects responsible for the suspected unlawful take of one of these red wolves may be eligible for a combined reward of up to $26,000. Individual organizations pledging contributions will determine eligibility for payment of any reward.

A total of 14 red wolves have died since January 1, 2013. Of those 14, three were struck and killed by vehicles, one died as a result of non-management related actions, one was undetermined but appears to be the result of suspected illegal take, and nine were confirmed or suspected gunshot deaths.

The red wolf is protected under The Endangered Species Act. The maximum criminal penalties for the unlawful taking of a red wolf are one year imprisonment and $100,000 fine per individual. Anyone with information on the death of this red wolf or any others, past or future, is urged to contact Resident Agent in Charge John Elofson at (404) 763-7959, Refuge Officer Frank Simms at (252) 216-7504, or North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Officer Robert Wayne at (252) 216-8225.


The red wolf is one of the world’s most endangered wild canids. Once common throughout the southeastern United States, red wolf populations have been decimated due to intensive predator control programs and loss of habitat. A remnant population of red wolves was found along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana. After being declared an endangered species in 1967, efforts were initiated to locate and capture as many wild red wolves as possible. Of the 17 remaining wolves captured by biologists, 14 became the founders of a successful zoo-based breeding program. Consequently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared red wolves extinct in the wild in 1980.

The first litter of red wolves born in captivity occurred in 1977. By 1987, enough red wolves were bred in captivity to begin a restoration program on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern North Carolina. Since then, the experimental population area has expanded to include three national wildlife refuges, a Department of Defense bombing range, state-owned lands, and private property, spanning a total of 1.7 million acres.

About 100 red wolves roam their native habitats in five northeastern North Carolina counties. Additionally, nearly 200 red wolves comprise the Species Survival Plan managed breeding program in sites across the United States, still an essential element of red wolf recovery.

The red wolf is one of two species of wolves in North America, the other being the gray wolf, (Canis lupus). As their name suggests, red wolves are known for the characteristic reddish color of their fur most apparent behind the ears and along the neck and legs, but are mostly brown and buff colored with some black along their backs. Intermediate in size to gray wolves and coyotes, the average adult red wolf weighs 45-80 pounds, stands about 26 inches at the shoulder and is about four feet long from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail.

Red wolves are social animals that live in packs consisting of a breeding pair and their offspring of different years, typically five to eight animals. Red wolves prey on a variety of wild mammals such as raccoon, rabbit, white-tailed deer, nutria, and other rodents. Most active at dusk and dawn, red wolves are elusive and generally avoid humans and human activity.

Learn more about red wolves and the Service’s efforts to recover them.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working 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 can make it happen, visit Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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