McEachin Letter Urges FWS to Take Action to Save Critically Endangered American Red Wolf

October 28, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) today announced his letter to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Regional Director Leopoldo Miranda urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to immediately take the action necessary to conserve the wild population of the critically endangered American red wolf.

Co-led by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03) and Congressman Don Beyer (VA-08), the letter addresses changes in management strategies over the last five years that have diminished the wild red wolf population to dangerous levels. The wild red wolf population, which consistently numbered over 100 wolves between 2002 and 2014, has now been reduced to only nine collared wolves in the wild, with recent reports indicating that number may have decreased even further to only seven collared wolves.

“For six years, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has not released any captive wolves into the wild population and has not resumed its prior proactive management of coyotes to address the hybridization risks in the Red Wolf Recovery Area,” the lawmakers wrote. “Given that no red wolf reproduction has occurred in the wild for the past two breeding seasons, the continued inaction of the agency will precipitate the extinction of the red wolf in the wild. This is a clear violation of both the public trust and the Endangered Species Act.”

“The continued decline of this critically endangered species is unacceptable,” the letter continued. “We urge you to commit to the preservation and protection of our nation’s imperiled species by taking the actions necessary to ensure a prosperous future for the American red wolf. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service must renew its commitment to the recovery of America’s red wolf by resuming releases of captive red wolves into the wild immediately.”

“The wild red wolf is in crisis. The Fish and Wildlife Service has both the expertise and the legal duty to prevent the wild red wolf from vanishing, yet it refuses to act,” said Ramona McGee, an attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center working on red wolf litigation and other endangered species issues.

“We are grateful to Reps. McEachin, Grijalva, and Beyer for their tireless advocacy on behalf of the world’s most endangered wolf species,” said Heather Clarkson, outreach representative at Defenders of Wildlife. “Fewer than 20 red wolves exist in the wild, and that number falls each year, with 2020 being no exception. We urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to immediately release more captive red wolves into the wild; doing otherwise will almost certainly lead to the wolf’s extinction.”