Posted on 11 September 2012.
Red wolves like this one and coyotes are difficult to tell apart, even in daylight. Interbreeding with coyotes is also a threat to this species.
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.
Posted in Features, Issues, Living with Wildlife, Photo, Southeast, Wildlife, wolves
Posted on 04 September 2012.
Imagine you’re a bear. You’ve spent most of your life ambling through the forest, munching on green plants and scrumptious insects, taking care of your family, just minding your own business. Then one day you decide you want to scout out better berry bushes on the other side of the valley and…WHAMMO! You’re roadkill.
A black bear sow and her cubs make their way through a wildlife passage...
Welcome to the world of wildlife and roads. Each year, millions of animals are killed along our roadways while moving across America’s fragmented landscape. Many species cover considerable distances to reach their winter range, breeding grounds, watering holes, seasonal food sources and the like. To do so, they must navigate a perilous maze of roads, human settlements, and other human-influenced challenges.
So what can people do to help wildlife through the barriers we have put in their way? There are many approaches taken to try to reduce animal-vehicle collisions, including better driver education, improved signage, reduced speed limits, and many other possibilities. Yet research has shown that the most successful tool to reduce roadkill and increase connectivity across a highway is to add a wildlife underpass (tunnel) or overpass (bridge), coupled with wildlife fencing that funnels an animal into these structures.
This is just what has been built not far from my community in northwestern Montana starting in 2006. Along a 56-mile stretch of highway that cuts across the Flathead Indian Reservation, the Montana Department of Transportation, due to the leadership of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes, built 41 fish and wildlife crossing structures, 16 miles of wildlife fencing, 58 jump-outs (opportunities for wildlife to jump out of the fenced roadway if they get stuck there), and many wildlife crossing guards (think cattle guards for wildlife to deter access onto the highway at driveway entrances).
Defenders of Wildlife has been helping to spread the word about the value of these tools through the People’s Way Partnership, in cooperation with the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University, and Montana Department of Transportation. The partnership came together to give the public accurate and interesting information about the importance and effectiveness of the wildlife crossings. We get the word out by talking to local communities and kids, providing posters and brochures and a website, and sharing the multitude of photos taken by motion-activated cameras documenting numerous species using the structures. We’ve also held a fantastically fun and successful Safe Passages for Wildlife Art Contest, where we gave presentations to over 950 students on the Flathead Indian Reservation and Missoula, who then gave us the gift of magical posters related to wildlife and the structures.