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Endangered Red Wolf Shot in NC, Officials Seek Public Assistance in Investigation

Mar 21, 2014 04:38 PM EDT
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The US Fish and Wildlife Service, along with state officials in North Carolina, are looking into the shooting death of a red wolf, the second reported in 2014.
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons )

The US Fish and Wildlife Service, along with state officials in North Carolina, are looking into the shooting death of an endangered red wolf, the second reported in 2014.

Red wolves are federally protected species, and parts of North Carolina are designated as red wolf recovery areas. The fatally shot red wolf was found March 11 southwest of Creswell, in Washington County, in the northeastern part of the state, not far from Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge where there is a red wolf recovery program in place.

The wolf was wearing a radio collar and is suspected of being a victim of illegal take. Red wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act in North Carolina as a non-essential population, meaning private landowners can shoot the wolves if it poses a threat to livestock or pets.

The USFWS and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission have asked the public to help with their investigation into the red wolf shooting.

"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 illegal take of a red wolf may be eligible for a reward," the USFWS said in a statement. "The Service is offering a reward of $2,500 for information that leads to the successful prosecution in this case."

Once widely distributed across the southeastern US, red wolves are now an endangered species. Their populations have been decimated because of overhunting, loss of habitat and interbreeding with coyotes.

In 2013 there were 14 known red wolf deaths, including three that were killed by vehicles, one death that was incidental to otherwise legal hunting, and nine were confirmed or suspected gunshot deaths. The cause of the remaining death remains inconclusive, the USFWS said.

According to the USFWS:

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.

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