11 September 2012 North Carolina’s Red Wolf: in the Spotlight and in Peril Posted by: Haley McKey | Leave a comment | Share: The red wolf is a normally a secretive animal that avoids humans, waiting for nightfall to hunt and socialize. But in North Carolina, these endangered creatures can no longer find safety under the cover of darkness. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission recently approved a temporary rule allowing night hunting of coyotes with spotlights, putting the rare wolves at risk of being accidentally shot. Defenders of Wildlife, along with the Animal Welfare Institute and the Red Wolf Coalition, has filed a court challenge against the NC Wildlife Resource Commission and a request to stop this rule. Not only does the rule threaten an endangered species, but the NC Wildlife Resource Commission also adopted it illegally, via a temporary rulemaking procedure that violates state law. Red wolves and coyotes are easy to confuse even in daylight because they are similar in both in color and physical appearance, and adolescent wolves are similar to adult coyotes in size. At night, it’s even more difficult to tell the difference (click here to see the two species side by side). The rule is catastrophic for several reasons. This species was once extinct in the wild, and slowly began to recover after captive wolves were reintroduced into the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. However, there are still only about 100 wild red wolves in the wild. With such a small population, each individual is vital to the survival of the species. But every year, about 7-9 percent of red wolves are killed by North Carolina hunters, a number that will almost certainly increase with night hunting. Red wolves are also threatened by interbreeding with coyotes. To prevent this, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sterilizes coyotes that live in red wolf habitat. But shooting sterilized coyotes allows fertile coyotes from other areas to move in and interbreed with wolves. There are only about 100 red wolves left in the wild, and all of them live in the state of North Carolina. Presently, the red wolf only exists in the state of North Carolina, and with a population so small and fragile, an increase in red wolf shooting deaths and interbreeding with coyotes could mean they’ll never recover. Defenders is committed to fighting this rule and protecting these rare and beautiful animals. Look out for updates as we continue our mission to keep red wolves alive and thriving. Click here to learn more about the night hunting rule in North Carolina and the challenge filed against it. Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in The Votes Are In… You voted, and we listened – now the winners of Defenders’ 2014 Photo Contest are here! See if your favorite won, and take a look at some of the amazing runner-ups. We’ve Got to Protect What’s Left of the Sagebrush Sea New research shows that after a fire, the Sagebrush Sea (home to the imperiled greater sage-grouse) could take up to 20 years to fully recover. With other factors already threatening so much of this habitat, what does that mean for the species that call it home? California prepares to welcome wolves home, but delays on providing state protections Now, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to remove Endangered Species Act protection for wolves throughout most of the rest of the country, gray wolves are once again at risk. Delisting would short-circuit wolf recovery in the Pacific West and would effectively mean giving up on one of our country’s most important and iconic species. Fortunately, California has an opportunity to play a meaningful role in helping the gray wolf continue to recover in the coming months and years.