Agreement reached in Red Wolf lawsuit

RALEIGH — An agreement has been reached in a lawsuit against the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, which will restore conditional coyote hunting in the five-county red wolf reintroduction area of eastern North Carolina.

The WRC announced in August the population was under review.

Photo by Ryan Nordsven, B. Bartel USFWS

Photo by
Ryan Nordsven, B. Bartel
USFWS

The agreement will restore daytime coyote hunting on private lands in Dare, Hyde, Beaufort, Tyrrell and Washington counties by licensed or otherwise authorized hunters, with a special permit obtained from the Wildlife Commission and subsequent reporting of kill. In the other 95 counties of the state, coyote hunters may hunt during daytime or at night using artificial lights, and no special permit or reporting of coyote harvests is required.

The agreement stems from a lawsuit brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the Red Wolf Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife and the Animal Welfare Institute. The suit alleged the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission violated the federal Endangered Species Act by allowing coyote hunting in Dare, Hyde, Beaufort, Tyrrell and Washington counties where a non-essential experimental re-introduction of the red wolf is occurring. A court-ordered injunction issued in May halted coyote hunting in the five counties, except under extremely limited circumstances.

This agreement restores opportunities for landowners and others to manage coyotes on their properties through daytime hunting. Coyotes are found in all 100 counties of the state and pose a predatory threat to pets, livestock and native wildlife. Hunting and trapping are effective tools for landowners to manage coyote populations on a localized basis.

Restoration of coyote hunting in the five-county red wolf reintroduction area requires the Commission invoke rulemaking to implement these changes. This process will be initiated as quickly as possible. Interested persons will be able to follow the progress of rulemaking by visiting www.ncwildlife.org<http://www.ncwildlife.org>.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission requested a programmatic review of the red wolf reintroduction in June. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will evaluate the program in the areas of science, management and public attitudes. The evaluation will be used to determine whether the red wolf introduction program is meeting the goals and objectives established under special rules of the Endangered Species Act. That determination is expected to be finalized in early 2015.

Landowners are permitted to “take” or kill a red wolf or a coyote if it attacks their livestock or pets, or if it endangers human life. A red wolf that is killed incidentally by any type of legal activity, such as hunting coyotes following state regulations, does not constitute a violation of federal regulations, provided that the taking is not intentional or willful. It also must be reported within 24 hours to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 1-855-496-5837 or N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission at 1-800-662-7137.

Filed in: Latest Headlines, News, Outdoors

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