Washington, D.C. June 28, 2018 – Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) formally proposed a rule shrinking the management area for the North Carolina red wolf from the current range of nearly 2 million acres down to a single national wildlife refuge and an adjacent former bombing range, a plan that Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said signals the Trump administration’s total capitulation to a small group of ideological wolf opponents. The proposed rule shrinks the red wolf management area by 90 percent and removes any protections from wolves beyond the area’s boundaries, allowing killing on private land without repercussions.

The proposal undermines more than 30 years of red wolf management efforts and virtually guarantees the destruction of a population that was recently rebounding. After red wolf numbers fell to less than 20 individuals in the 1980s, FWS officials began reintroducing wolves from the captive population into a five-county area in eastern North Carolina. The recovery program made steady progress, with the population reaching more than 100 individuals, but after years of management missteps just 35 now remain in the wild.

That number will likely decline further, as the revised management area can only sustain up to 15 wolves.

“The Fish & Wildlife Service isn’t just neglecting its duties, it’s actively undermining its own role as the protector of our nation’s endangered species,” Grijalva said today. “Their only native home is the United States. FWS is passing a death sentence on an animal as American as the bald eagle.”

“I am very concerned that the FWS proposal stands to reduce protections for the endangered red wolves in North Carolina,” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.). “There are less than forty red wolves remaining in the world, and North Carolina is the last remaining home for these wolves in the wild. I am hopeful the FWS will hear the public comments and reconsider its harmful proposal.”

In a March 2016 poll, 73 percent of voters supported recovery efforts for the North Carolina red wolf, and during the comment period on an earlier related rule change, 99.8 percent of the more than 55,000 received public comments supported red wolf recovery.

The FWS will hold a public comment period on the proposed rule from June 28 through July 30, and will host a public meeting from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on July 10 at Roanoke Festival Park in Manteo, North Carolina.