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Nine red wolves to be released in eastern NC

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in eastern North Carolina is home to red wolves.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in eastern North Carolina is home to red wolves.

The wolves are native to this state and the East Coast of the U.S. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says releasing these wolves could help increase the declining population.

Nine red wolves, a critically endangered species, will be released in eastern North Carolina in the coming weeks. Most estimates say there are fewer than 20 left in the wild.

The wolves are native to this state and the East Coast of the U.S. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says releasing these wolves could help increase the declining population.

But Perrin de Jong, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental advocacy group, says it's important for the agency to release significant numbers of wolves into the wild on an ongoing basis.

"Like in 2020 and 2021, they released a total of seven wolves. And then in 2021 alone, seven wolves were killed by people, De Jong said.

DeJong is involved in ongoing litigation against the Fish and Wildlife Service regarding their plans for the wolves. The agency recently re-committed to their recovery, and to being more transparent and collaborative.

The wolves will be released into the Alligator River and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuges.

"You have to release enough wolves into the wild population, not just to keep up with population loss, but you have to release more wolves than that if you want to grow the population," DeJong said.

The release of these wolves could help establish additional breeding pairs on the landscape. There have been no known red wolf pups born in the wild since at least 2018.

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