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Scientists Warn Federal Agency's Plan Would 'Result in Extinction of Red Wolves in the Wild'
The same scientists who provided the population viability analysis to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for the red wolf have sent a rebuttal to the agency, accusing it of "many alarming misinterpretations" in its justification for removing most of the remaining animals in the wild.
Last month, the USFWS announced that it would recapture 32 of the 45 wolves in the wild and leave only those on federal lands. Currently, there are about 200 red wolves in captive breeding programs in the U.S. as part of the agency's Species Survival Plan (SSP).
The letter, released to the public today, bluntly counters the agency's proposal to recapture 32 wolves and place them in captive breeding programs:
"A singular focus on the SSP will no doubt result in extinction of red wolves in the wild."
On Sept. 29, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina issued a preliminary injunction ordering the USFWS to stop capturing and killing—and authorizing private landowners to capture and kill—members of the rapidly dwindling population of wild red wolves.
"There's no need to capture wild wolves in an effort to save the captive population, which is what the service contends," said Defenders of Wildlife attorney Jason Rylander.
In their letter, the three scientists, from Lincoln Park Zoo, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium and the AZA Population Management Center, dispute the agency's contention that the captive breeding program needs more wild red wolves for greater genetic diversity.
"The scientists' letter makes clear that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's proposal to withdraw red wolves from most of their range in North Carolina has no scientific basis and confirms that the agency's conclusion that the captive population is at risk is wrong," said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife.
A poll of North Carolina voters and the state legislature have shown strong support for the efforts to restore the red wolves to their native habitat. For now, the injunction remains in effect. No court date has been set for a hearing and it is not expected until sometime in 2017.
The letter asks the agency to "edit or append" its decision memo. "This letter confirms what red wolf advocates have been saying all along: capturing wild red wolves and placing them into captivity isn't the answer. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to recommit to red wolf recovery in the wild," Clark said.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Dr. Brian R. Shmaefsky
One year after the Flint Water Crisis I was invited to participate in a water rights session at a conference hosted by the US Human Rights Network in Austin, Texas in 2015. The reason I was at the conference was to promote efforts by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to encourage scientists to shine a light on how science intersects with human rights, in the U.S. as well as in the context of international development. My plan was to sit at an information booth and share my stories about water quality projects I spearheaded in communities in Bangladesh, Colombia, and the Philippines. I did not expect to be thrown into conversations that made me reexamine how scientists use their knowledge as a public good.
The shipping industry is coming to grips with its egregious carbon footprint, as it has an outsized contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and to the dumping of chemicals into open seas. Already, the global shipping industry contributes about 2 percent of global carbon emissions, about the same as Germany, as the BBC reported.
The Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC overlooks the Tidal Basin, a man-made body of water surrounded by cherry trees. Visitors can stroll along the water's edge, gazing up at the stately monument.
But at high tide, people are forced off parts of the path. Twice a day, the Tidal Basin floods and water spills onto the walkway.