NC conservationists file lawsuit to protect red wolves

Wild red wolves exist only in eastern NC

POSTED: 6:45 PM Oct 18 2013   UPDATED: 6:51 PM Oct 18 2013
COLUMBIA, TYRRELL COUNTY -

Three NC conservationist organizations have filed a lawsuit in the hope of protecting red wolves.

Wild red wolves live only in eastern North Carolina.

A recent decision by the State's Wildlife Resource Commission allows the killing of coyotes, not only during the day, but also at night.

The three organizations, which are the Red Wolf Coalition, Animal Welfare Institute and Defenders of Wildlife, claim the decision puts red wolves in the line of fire. They say that is because people often mistake red wolves for coyotes, shooting and killing them.

Red wolves are an endangered species. It's estimated only 100 of them live in the wild.

In 1980, the red wolves were found completely extinct in the wild. By 1988, they were re-introduced to the woods of eastern North Carolina.

Officials say since 2008, at least 20 red wolves were killed in our state. "We lost, between August and December of last year, ten animals," said Kim Wheeler, Executive Director of the Red Wolf Coalition. Wheeler fears if the Wildlife Resource Commission's decision is not overturned, the number of killed red wolves will continue to climb.

"All we want is to find a resolution, I don't think any of us wanted to seek legal action," said Wheeler. "I think we felt like we had no other alternative."

Newschannel 12 attempted to contact the Wildlife Resource Commission for comment. We are yet to receive a return phone call.