For more than 30 years, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners have been working to conserve and recover the red wolf. On November 10, 2021, the Service announced the decision to withdraw the 2018 proposed rule to replace the existing regulations governing the North Carolina nonessential experimental population (NC NEP) designation of the red wolf under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Based on recent court decisions involving the NC NEP and having considered public comments submitted in response to the 2018 proposed rule, the Service determined that withdrawing the proposed rule is the best course of action at this time.
The red wolf is listed as an endangered species under the ESA, except in a portion of North Carolina where it was reintroduced as a nonessential experimental population. The NC NEP is the only known wild population of red wolves.
Withdrawal of the 2018 proposed rule means red wolves in the NC NEP will continue to be managed under existing regulations, as clarified by relevant court orders. Management under the 1995 rule recognizes the Service’s authority to release additional wolves and conduct adaptive management. The NC NEP will continue to encompass the five counties of the Albemarle Peninsula (Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell, and Washington counties).
Within the NC NEP, the Service will work with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to implement coyote sterilization on federal lands and non-federal lands (subject to written landowner agreements). Authorized take will be limited to protection of oneself or others from potential harm, protection of livestock or pets in immediate danger, and unintentional take.
The Service will continue to work with stakeholders to identify ways to encourage and facilitate more effective coexistence between people and wolves, through programs such as Prey for the Pack, and to establish the support necessary for red wolf conservation.
The proposed rule that published June 28, 2018, to replace the existing regulations governing the NC NEP designation of the red wolf under section 10(j) of the ESA will be withdrawn on November 15, 2021, upon publication in the Federal Register. The withdrawal of the proposed rule, comments, and supplementary documents are available at www.regulations.gov (Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2018-0035).
For more information on the red wolf recovery program, visit www.fws.gov/southeast/wildlife/mammals/red-wolf.
Source: Jennifer Koches, US Fish and Wildlife Service