Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

One of World’s Most Endangered Wolf Species Could Go Extinct in 8 Years

Animals
Red Wolf / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A Species Status Assessment (SSA) released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Tuesday revealed that there are only 44 red wolves left in North Carolina, the only place they exist in the wild, and that they could go extinct within eight years.


The SSA was released along with a Five-Year Status Review, which the FWS undertakes for every species offered protections under the Endangered Species Act to determine if they should retain their endangered status. Given the population's vulnerabilities, the FWS recommended that red wolves remain listed as endangered. According to the FWS website, red wolves are one of the most endangered wolf species in the world.

"Time is running out for red wolves. We need to move fast if we're going to keep them from disappearing forever," biologist and senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity Collette Adkins said in a press release. "For starters, we need immediate measures in place to stop people from killing them."

The 2007 Five-Year Status Review found that there were 114 red wolves in the wild as of 2006. But the most recent status review said those numbers had gone down due to an increase in human-caused deaths from gunshots, car collisions, poisoning and illegal activity.

The SSA further explained how human-caused mortality was interacting with the spread of coyotes in North Carolina to threaten the population. When half of a breeding pair of wolves dies or is killed, the wolf left behind has to scramble for a mate and sometimes ends up breeding with a coyote, producing offspring that are no longer counted as red wolves. While there were four times the number of red wolf litters compared to mixed litters produced from 2001 to 2013, more than half of the hybrid litters came about because a red wolf lost its mate.

The SSA further pointed out that the habitat of red wolves on North Carolina's Albemarle Peninsula is at risk of shrinking from sea level rise due to climate change.

In a sad twist, the status review also revealed that the red wolf's range was historically more extensive than previously thought, extending from Edwards Plateau in Texas in the west, to the southern Midwest in the north, to southern Pennsylvania and southeastern New York in the east.

The historic range of the red wolf compared with its current habitat.Jose Barrios / USFWS

According to the FWS website, the red wolf was first listed as endangered in 1967 and declared extinct in the wild in 1980 due to habitat loss and predator control. The FWS found a surviving population along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana in the 1970s and captured many to start a captive breeding program. Red wolves were reintroduced into the wild in North Carolina in 1986. There is debate as to whether the red wolf is actually a separate species or a hybrid, something the FWS is working to determine within the year.

According to an FWS press release, there are currently more than 200 red wolves in captivity. The FWS will release new proposed rules for managing the wild population by the summer.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Refrigerated trucks function as temporary morgues at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal on May 06, 2020 in New York City. As of July, the states where COVID-19 cases are rising are mostly in the West and South. Justin Heiman / Getty Images

The official number of people in the U.S. who have lost their lives to the new coronavirus has now passed 130,000, according to tallies from The New York Times, Reuters and Johns Hopkins University.

Read More Show Less
A man walks on pink snow at the Presena glacier near Pellizzano, Italy on July 4, 2020. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP via Getty Images

In a troubling sign for the future of the Italian Alps, the snow and ice in a glacier is turning pink due to the growth of snow-melting algae, according to scientists studying the pink ice phenomenon, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Climate activist Greta Thunberg discusses EU plans to tackle the climate emergency with Parliament's environment committee on March 4, 2020. CC-BY-4.0: © European Union 2020 – Source: EP

By Abdullahi Alim

The 2008 financial crisis spurred a number of youth movements including Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring. A decade later, this anger resurfaced in a new wave of global protests, from Hong Kong to Beirut to London, only this time driven by the children of the 2008 financial crisis.

Read More Show Less
A climate activist holds a victory sign in Washington, DC. after President Obama announced that he would reject the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal on November 6, 2015. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

The Supreme Court late Monday upheld a federal judge's rejection of a crucial permit for Keystone XL and blocked the Trump administration's attempt to greenlight construction of the 1,200-mile crude oil project, the third such blow to the fossil fuel industry in a day—coming just hours after the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the court-ordered shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Read More Show Less
A forest fire in Yakutsk in eastern Siberia on June 2, 2020. Yevgeny Sofroneyev / TASS via Getty Images

Once thought too frozen to burn, Siberia is now on fire and spewing carbon after enduring its warmest June ever, according to CNN.

Read More Show Less
The Colima fir tree's distribution has been reduced to the area surrounding the Nevado de Colima volcano. Agustín del Castillo

By Agustín del Castillo

For 20 years, the Colima fir tree (Abies colimensis) has been at the heart of many disputes to conserve the temperate forests of southern Jalisco, a state in central Mexico. Today, the future of this tree rests upon whether the area's avocado crops will advance further and whether neighboring communities will unite to protect it.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Independent environmental certifications offer a better indicator of a product's eco credentials, including labor conditions for workers involved in production. Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Jeanette Cwienk

This summer's high street fashions have more in common than styles and colors. From the pink puff-sleeved dream going for just €19.99 ($22.52) at H&M, to Zara's elegant €12.95 ($14.63) halter-neck dress, clothing stores are alive with cheap organic cotton.

"Sustainable" collections with aspirational own-brand names like C&A's "Wear the change," Zara's "join life" or H&M's "CONSCIOUS" are offering cheap fashion and a clean environmental conscience. Such, at least, is the message. But is it really that simple?

Read More Show Less