Category Archives: WILDLIFE

Tillis: ‘End The Red Wolf Recovery Program’


Thom Tillis

Thom Tillis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Wednesday, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) attended and spoke at a House Committee on Natural Resources oversight hearing on the status of the federal government’s management of wolves. Tillis called for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to formally end its Red Wolf Recovery Program in North Carolina.

Since it was created 30 years ago, the Red Wolf Recovery Program has failed to meet population recovery goals for the red wolf while negatively affecting North Carolina landowners and the populations of several other native species. 514 private landowners and farmers have sent individual requests to USFWS to not allow red wolves on their land.

The Office of the Inspector General released a report on the Red Wolf Recovery Program in February, finding that the USFWS violated its rule by releasing 132 wolves into the wild between 1987 and 2013, when it had only provided for the release of 12 wolves. Additionally, they found that USFWS released wolves on private property without the written permission of landowners.

Senator Tillis recently visited Aurora, North Carolina, to meet with property owners who are being harmed by the program. In June, he secured a provision in the Senate FY2017 Interior Appropriations bill that would require the USFWS to coordinate with North Carolina Wildlife Commission on decisions related to the future of the Red Wolf Recovery program.

The North Carolina Wildlife Commission has also requested that the USFWS end the program.

“Before we do anything more in North Carolina, I think it makes the most sense to shut the program down to figure out how to do it right and build some credibility with the landowners,” said Senator Tillis during today’s committee hearing. “There is a less than respectful history of dialogue between folks in North Carolina and the Fish and Wildlife Service. This is going to be an issue my office will be focused on for as long as I’m a U.S. Senator.”

One man can fight the federal bureaucracy!

Large N.C. landowner Jett Ferebee slugs it out with Red Wolf policy makers



Read the complete report (209 pages)

Editor’s note:  In a departure from normal bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo, a 200-page report released this week, titled ‘Red Wolf Recovery Team Recommendations,’ contains a fascinating section. Appendix G features candid, verbatim give-and-take among opponents of the Red Wolf Program – led by Jett Ferebee who owns a large tract in Northeastern North Carolina – and proponents of the program, which include federal officials, scientists, and academic-types.

Alert readers will encounter the acronym NENC NEP, which stands for: North East North Carolina Non-essential Experimental Population – government-speak for a genetically questionable species of Red Wolf, introduced during 1986 into five counties in the state’s northeast corner.

Jett Ferebee: The private landowners have already been lied to repeatedly by USFWS about having a small population of wolves located on the Dare County ARNWR. It was our original trust that   USFWS would restrict wolves to this land as promised in 1986 that has now led us to this cross road. DO NOT ASK US TO BELIEVE THIS LIE AGAIN, 30 YEARS LATER!!!!! You promised to keep them

on the refuge last time and laughed at us for thinking they would stay there. You promised to keep the wolves on Federal land, but at the very same time you were releasing them on private land. You had Federal rules requiring private land removal, while you wrote an internal policy saying not to honor removal request.

You just re-released a trapped wolf XXXXXX that left the Alligator River refuge immediately and returned to the private land, where it was trapped, in a matter of days. Now the landowner is asking for this wolfís removal again and is being told the request must be written in a certain manner. At this very same time you have your DOJ attorneys telling Judge Boyle that USFWS has no intention of removing any wolves from private land and they have no pending requests to do so. You also took a trapped coyote and put it on ARNWR. It too returned e to the private land where it was trapped in a matter of days. What a grossly mismanaged and fraudulent taxpayer scam. Are you really foolish enough to ask us to believe you will keep your animals on ARNWR? Even more absurd is that you would ask the American taxpayer to fund this revolving door scam.

You selectively bred a robust coywolf in a zoo in Tacoma Washington, called it an endangered species, and then falsified historic range maps to meet your needs of Federal lands with no coyotes, all so you could establish a wolf population on the east coast under the false guise of the ESA. Oh no USFWS, fool us, once shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us. This will not happen again.

This is the price you must pay for your wayward ways of the past. Take this opportunity to do the right thing and potentially regain the trust of your needed private land partner. There is a right way and a wrong way to treat others. The right way begins with integrity.

Wild Population Viability:

Jett Ferebee: A group of red wolves managed under this option would be artificially constrained to  the federal land base. Yea right. You just re released a trapped wolf from Xxxxxxxx that left the Alligator River refuge and returned to private land in a matter of days. Now the landowner is asking for this wolfís removal and is being told the request must be written in a certain manner. You also took a trapped coyote and put it on ARNWR. It too returned to the private land where it was trapped in a matter of days. Are you really foolish enough to ask us to believe you will keep your animals on ARNWR? Even more absurd is that you would ask the American tax payer to fund this revolving door scam.

Human Dimensions

There would be some benefits to maintaining a small group of wolves on the Federal lands. These include preserving the wolfís intrinsic value, as well as  conducting.

Jett Ferebee: This is so bogus. Kim Wheeler, the Red Wolf Coalition Executive Director for over 10 years? and lives in the heart of the red wolf recovery area proclaimed in a court affidavit that she had only seen a red wolf in the wild twice in her life! So no it is highly doubtful the public will enjoy anything more than the howling of penned up wolves as they have for years, often being mislead into thinking they were hearing wild wolves. The whole mess is a fraud especially the part about the public experiencing wild wolves. Even Kim could probably not confirm if she had actually seen a wolf, hybrid, or coyote on her 2 lifetime sightings of a ìwolfî

Federal Rule 50 CFR 17.81

(d) The Fish and Wildlife Service shall consult with appropriate State fish and wildlife agencies, local governmental entities, affected Federal agencies, and affected private landowners in developing and implementing experimental population rules. When appropriate, a public meeting will be conducted with interested members of the public. Any regulation promulgated pursuant to this section shall, to the maximum extent practicable, represent an agreement between the Fish and Wildlife Service, the affected State and Federal agencies and  persons holding any interest in  land which may be affected by the establishment of an experimental population.

Jett Ferebee: I believe this is the option that USFWS has been tasked with accomplishing for the last 30 years and now has fewer or the same number of breeding pairs (4) that they originally started with in 1987. After 30 years, USFWS has failed to accomplish their original goals for either the wild population or the captive population. The goal was 220 wild animals and they now have maybe 40 and have released at least 132 animals to get this 40Ö

To me, this is feasibility study enough, but then my paycheck is not tied to the continuation of this farce and its associated studies.

We have seen in the NENC NEP that coyote hunting, trapping and control leads to levels of mortality in red wolves that are not sustainable.

Jett Ferebee: USFWS personnel not keeping wolves on Federal land as promised leads to levels of mortality that are not sustainable. USFWS flooding red wolf habitat for carbon credits and not managing their land for their own invented endangered species leads to levels of mortality that are not sustainable.

Even with this effort there has been no systematic effort to analyze its effects on wolves, coyotes or human attitudes.  Additional measures could include an outright prohibition on coyote hunting or other modifications to coyote hunting seasons and bag limits


Jett Ferebee: Donít even think about it.

These include the coexistence council for the Mexican grey wolf (Mexican Wolf/Livestock Coexistence Council, 2014) which includes a pay-for-presence program, and recovery efforts for jaguars in northern Mexico (Northern Jaguar Project).

Jett Ferebee: Yep sure, I believe the Mexican wolf program is in just as much of a mess as this red wolf program. The red wolf is a NONESSENTIAL EXPERIMENTAL POPULATION and has its own set of regulations that are specifically set up to protect private landowner rights NOT other interest groups maybe you guys need to review the 10j rules

Utilize wild wolves for planning new restoration sites.

Mike Phillips: It seems highly unlikely this will be possible.

Lessons Learned

First we must take a moment to recognize the successes. We successfully established a captive breeding program to ensure the survival of the species. We achieved the first successful re- introduction of a large carnivore that had been declared extinct in the wild.

Mike Phillips: The truthfulness of this statement depends on how one defines ìsuccessfulî.

To ranchers in the area around Yellowstone the wolf is a threat to livestock and an economic liability.

Mike Phillips: More of a perceived threat and perceived liability. Most wolves donít make a whit of difference to most ranchers.

The fact that we did not immediately and publicly acknowledge and correct our error created problems that persist to this day.

Mike Phillips: This is not true. As evinced by signed agreements and our celebration of those agreements we certainly acknowledged the importance of private land.

Hindsight is of course 20-20 and it is not fair to criticize the work of program staff, who were undoubtedly doing great work to deal with a very complicated, challenging and unprecedented reintroduction effort. We know now that as soon as wolves began leaving the Refuge we should have made a public statement of our changed understanding of red wolf habitat and space needs, and should have engaged the community in a dialogue of the meaning of this new information to the recovery effort and its relationship to the community

Mike Phillips: This is not true. As evinced by signed agreements and our celebration of those agreements we certainly acknowledged the importance of private land.

Second, being wrong about these fundamental early assertions regarding red wolf ecology undermined our scientific credibility early in the recovery effort in the minds of many in the community.  If we could be this wrong about such fundamental aspects of red wolf ecology, how could the community be expected to put faith in our findings regarding more complicated aspects of red wolf conservation including taxonomy, management of hybridization, and predator-prey relationships? This could have been addressed had we been more forth coming about what we  were learning about red wolf ecology and engaged the community is a dialogue regarding the consequences of this new information.

Mike Phillips: I think this paragraph conflates current circumstances that are intertwined with concerns about coyotes with very different circumstances that existed from 1986 through the mid- 1990s.

Things I Can Live With

Jett Ferebee: The NENC population needs to be terminated after 30 years of unsuccessfully meeting the program objectives and violating several key Federal Rules designed to protect private landowner rights. Winding down this process should be expeditious and used as an opportunity to learn and increase credibility between FWS and private landowners.

In light of the new Princeton/UCLA genome wide DNA study that determined the red wolf to be a hybrid of 75% coyote and 25% grey wolf, I cannot support spending any more taxpayer money on either the wild population or even the captive population of red wolves. Hybrid animals are not protected by the ESA.

Recognition that absolutely no physical evidence has ever been produced by USFWS to prove the red wolves selectively bred in a zoo in Tacoma, Washington were ever native to the State of NC.

Things I Oppose

Jett Ferebee: Further spending of taxpayer resources on an animal of such questionable origins and the continued trampling of private landowner rights by USFWS and NGOs.

Forcing this on people who donít want it. USFWS not managing their Federal land for the red wolf and then expecting private landowners to host their wolf program (biologists and all).

USFWS not honoring the original commitments made to the citizens of North Carolina in Federal Rules and public meetings. The 1986 and 1995 Federal Rules governing this non-essential experimental species program were specifically established to protect private landowner rights including the ability to have unwanted wolves removed from their land.

Thinking that adaptive management has controlled hybridization of wolves with coyotes in eastern NC.

USFWS blaming hunters and landowners for the NC program failing rather accepting that the same conditions of coyote infiltration and hybrid swarm that lead to red wolves being removed from the wild in Texas by USFWS have now occurred in eastern NC.

“Recent genetic data have cast doubt upon the hybrid origin hypothesis and the balance of evidence has tilted towards a North American canid assemblage composed of the eastern wolf, the red wolf, and the coyote as distinct taxa that are descended from a common ancestral canid of North American origin.”

Mike Phillips: See my previous comments on this issue. It would seem appropriate to integrate van Holdt et al. 2016 into this report.

3. Can a wild population of red wolves be self-sustaining without active management for hybridization?

The honest answer is we do not know. The goals laid out in the Red Wolf Recovery Plan (establishing three wild populations with approximately 220 animals) are based on the premise that a red wolf population that is large enough and stable enough would be able to sustain itself against introgression with coyotes. This appears to be the case with the eastern wolf (C. lycaon) of eastern Canada. It too is intermediate in size between grey wolves and coyotes and hybridizes with both species. Yet, within Algonquin Provincial Park it is able to sustain a core population that appears stable.

It is an open question whether the red wolf can do the same. It can certainly be said that such a situation has not been observed to date. The Service believes that in the period around 2005 the NENC NEP population was approaching a size and configuration (approximately 130 animals in about 20 packs) that may have been sustainable; though this was never demonstrated. Since that time the population has been in decline due primarily to increased loss of breeding animals to anthropogenic sources (primarily gunshot). The increased loss of breeders causes instability in the social structure of wolf packs that facilitates hybridization.

So the question remains whether there is any set of conditions that would enable a large stable red wolf population to sustain itself against hybridization with coyotes or whether the red wolf is a conservation-reliant species that will perpetually require intensive management in the wild.

Mike Phillips: Good

9. Why are wolves are not being maintained on Federal lands as promised in the Federal rules?

514 landowners have now demanded to not have wolves on their land, many of these had signed “partner agreements” and received compensation from the Service. Large tracts have pulled all support for this recovery program based upon unkept promises and commitments.

During the summer of 2014 we received a surge in requests to remove wolves from private lands. Our records indicate that we received 405 such requests. We followed up on each and every one. Our records indicate that 24 of the requests represented duplicate requests from the same address (e.g., husband and wife submitting identical requests on or about the same date). Forty-three requests contained no contact information and we were unable to identify the senders. We received no response to repeated attempts to contact 282 requestors.  Fourteen requestors contacted indicated that they thought they were signing a petition to protest the NCWRC coyote hunting rules, but had no wolf issues on their lands. An additional 25 requestors reported no problems with  wolves on their lands at the time but would contact us if the situation changed.  Our staff conducted surveys of 21 properties at the landownerís requests and found no evidence of wolf presence.

Those landowners requested no further action. We received no further response from 5 landowners following our original contact with them.  Two landowners would not allow access to their property so we could follow-up on their requests.  We ended up working with 13 landowners to address concerns regarding wolves using their property.

We are working diligently to uphold our commitments to landowners and work within our 1995 regulations.

Mike Phillips: Good.

Jett Ferebee: Pete, I have told you repeatedly that USFWS is misrepresenting these requests.   These requests were for the removal of any wolves that were present or may become present on their land. Since USFWS would not even provide wolf locations to our NCWRC, no one knows if   and when a wolf is occupying their land. These requests made it clear that if USFWS, who was mandated by Federal Rule to monitor their wolves, knew their wolf was on any one of these peopleís land; then they were to be notified and the wolf removed. Some even requested that USFWS not go on their private land as people were complaining of USFWS trespassing on their property. So all this bogus data you present here is meant to do nothing but discredit the integrity of private landowners in the red wolf recovery area. I have spent over 15 years trying to get USFWS to remove wolves as promised. Only now have I achieved any results. As a result of my success, USFWS and DOW will likely fabricate a sue and settlement arrangement in their current law suit and do away with our ability to have wolves removed. In fact just last month, DOJ attorneys have already told Judge Boyle and SELC that they had NO INTENTIONS of removing any wolves.

Lessons Learned

First we must take a moment to recognize the successes. We successfully established a captive breeding program to ensure the survival of the species. We achieved the first successful re- introduction of a large carnivore that had been declared extinct in the wild.

Mike Phillips: The truthfulness of this statement depends on how one defines successful.

Jett Ferebee: I disagree when it comes to experimental populations: see Federal Rule 50 CFR 17.81.

This is important because the nature of the red wolf recovery program in eastern NC has changed repeatedly over the years as our scientific understanding of red wolves has evolved. This led to several important decision points and forks in the road where the Service acted unilaterally.

Jett Ferebee: USFWS must admit the violations of Federal Rules ñ illegal private land releases, nonremoval of wolves, selectively breeding an animal to fit their needs, manipulating data to somehow make NC become historic range of the red wolf, falsifying take request information to a Federal Judge, conspiring with NGOís to sue and settle with our NCWRCÖ the list could go on and on. You canít continue to just say the community was not engaged or that USFWS should have educated them more.

Henry and Lucash (2000) summarized lessons learned through the first 12 years of the red wolf reintroduction efforts in eastern NC and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These lessons included recognizing the importance of private lands, taking steps to minimize conflicts with other land uses and practices, the need for public outreach and state agency involvement, and the need for transparency and consistency in our actions. While these lessons have been acknowledged it is clear that the Service has not taken these lessons sufficiently to heart to produce a lasting change in the relationship between the agency, the community and other key partners.

Jett Ferebee: This is epitomized by the last letter that your DOJ attorneys made you send me saying that my take permit request had not been active since ìwhelping seasonî. This was a lie to cover up the lie that your DOJ attorneys told a Federal Judge. I cannot express how that galvanized my belief that USFWS has no intent to be truthful to anyone, including a Federal Judge. The ends never justify the means in any situation. I am not done with this ìlittle issueî either.

A. Communication of Government Intent

When the northeastern North Carolina red wolf non-essential experimental population (NENC NEP) was first established in 1986 the Service said that the wolves would be managed on federal lands (Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and Dare County Bombing Range) and would pose no threat to, and place no encumbrances upon, private lands. This commitment was based on our understanding at the time of red wolf ecology, which was based on limited observations of the habitat use, movements, and diets of the few wolves that existed in southwestern Louisiana and southeastern Texas. Our assumptions quickly proved unfounded as wolves soon left the Refuge  and we discovered that their habitat preferences and space needs were much different than we originally believed.

Jett Ferebee: This is where you should state that you only had Section 7 authority to release 12 wolves from the captive population but released 132, which likely bankrupted your captive breeding program. This is where you should state you only had Federal Authority to release wolves on Federal land where the wolf was fully protected, but you released 64 out of 132 wolves onto private land. They did not simply ìwander ontoî private land or even ìsoon left the refugeî.  Your personnel put them in a crate and took them to private land, while they were having public meetings for the  1995 Rules revision that stated you were only going to be releasing a few wolves on the  Federal lands of PLNWR. Now would be a good place to show a little humility and integrity.

This created two problems. First, as we altered our management practices in response to our  rapidly changing knowledge of red wolf ecology we fundamentally altered the premise upon which the relationship between the red wolf and the community was founded.  Wolves that were supposed to be confined to the Refuge were now routinely, even predominantly, occupying private lands. The fact that we did not immediately and publicly acknowledge and correct our error created problems that persist to this day.

Mike Phillips: This is not true. As evinced by signed agreements and our celebration of those agreements we certainly acknowledged the importance of private land.

Jett Ferebee: It took a FOIA request from me almost three decades later for USFWS to finally admit to doing this with no legal authority. It took a called meeting with the NCWRC to expose that USFWS had an internal policy that stated they would not remove wolves from private land. This policy was in direct conflict with the 1995 Federal Rules, which state that ALL unwanted wolves would be removed from private lands.

Jett Ferebee: These people are sick and tired of USFWS saying they will be engaged and made aware of USFWS actions. This is being seen right now as Howard Phillips is flooding the refuge, which is now flooding wolf habitat and adjoining farmland. We do not want to be simply ìbe engagedî. To date this is a one sided public stunt. We demand to be heard, especially when USFWS activities impact our private land! To date USFWS, as many Government agencies do, simply plays the old ìrope a dopeî technique and hopes the complainer goes away.


When people do not know what a federal agency is doing they tend to speculate, and they almost never speculate positively. The absence of clear timely information from the Service provides a breeding ground for suspicion and mis-information that if left untreated (as has been the case with the red wolf reintroduction effort) leads to distrust and loss of confidence. Today, certain segments of the community believe we are determined to expand the range of the red wolf throughout North Carolina and beyond while other stakeholders believe we are managing the wild population to extinction. Neither is accurate, but how is anyone to know given the lack of accurate and timely information from the Service?

Jett Ferebee: What is accurate? The Federal Rules stated that you were going to establish a  Nonessential Experimental Population (term you conveniently omitted from this report) on Federal lands. That is around 275,000 acres, yet now somehow USFWS has taken the recovery area size up to 1.7 million acres including all Federal, State and private land in five counties! What are we supposed to believe? Will the 1.7 million acres now grow to include all of NC next or even the entire Southeast? This is certainly what is being communicated by the NGOs and wolf scientists. Bait and switch is the private sector term for this

What evidence supports historic red wolf presence in NENC?

Jett Ferebee: The bottom line here is the fact that absolutely no physical evidence has ever been produced by anyone in 30 years of trying, that proves a red wolf was ever native to our State of NC. Absolutely the red wolf, that Michael Phillips described as being a human construct which was selectively bred in a zoo in Tacoma Washington, was NEVER native to NC. To Mr. Phillips credit, I have found him to be very open in his assessment of the red wolf program from beginning to end.  To build on Mr. Phillipsís above description (see peer review WMI report), he now even states in this report he supports:

ìAn effort to modify the red wolf captive breeding program to promote greater expression of the gray wolf component of the red wolf genome as manifest by a substantial increase in the average body size of red wolves.î

This is the honest information that USFWS must communicate!

If the ìscientific communityî thinks the Southeast needs a wolf, be honest about it. Be honest like Mike Phillips and just say you are going to breed something that may serve your purpose, but donít falsely hide behind the guise of the ESA.

Artists sought for Duck Stamp competition

Last year’s winning artwork came from Guy Crittenden, a Virginia wildlife artist.

Last year’s winning artwork came from Guy Crittenden, a Virginia wildlife artist.

WASHINGTON, N.C. — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the Washington Tourism Development Authority are seeking artists’ entries for the N.C. Waterfowl Conservation Stamp and Print. Entries must be received by 5 p.m. on Jan. 22, 2016 at the Washington Tourism Development Authority, 108 Gladden Street, Washington, N.C. 27889.

The winning artwork will be featured on the 2016-17 waterfowl conservation stamp, also known as the North Carolina duck stamp. It, along with the other top four entries, will be unveiled during the East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships, which will be held Feb. 5 – 7, 2016 in downtown Washington, N.C.

The Commission and the Washington Tourism Development Authority sponsor the annual contest, which typically draws artists from across the United States. This year, artists may submit a full-color, realistic rendering of tundra swans, blue-winged teal, Atlantic brant, gadwall, or bufflehead, and depicted in the appropriate habitat.

  • Artwork will be judged on the following criteria
  • Level and accuracy of detail in all aspects of the anatomy of waterfowl
  • Appropriateness, accuracy and detail in depiction of the selected species’ habitat
  • Attractiveness and creativity of the composition, regarding spatial balance, lighting and harmony of subject and background
  • Visual appeal and suitability for reproduction at both the print and stamp scales.

The competition is open to artists 18 years and older. Artists may submit only one design in whatever medium they choose. Images must be horizontal, 13 inches by 18 inches, matted in white to outside dimensions of 18 inches by 23 inches and should be loosely covered with a protective overleaf, although not framed or covered with glass. The image should bear no signature or other marks that would identify the artist.

Complete entry guidelines, as well as specific requirements for artwork, are located on the East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival website

The winning design will be selected by a panel of five judges who have expertise in waterfowl biology or artistic method and expression. The judging will take place on Jan. 25, 2016, and the winner will be notified shortly after. The winner will receive $7,000 in prize money, $300 in travel expense money, and free booth space at the 2017 festival.

Proceeds from sales of the print and stamp support the Wildlife Resources Commission’s Waterfowl Fund, which generates revenue for the conservation of waterfowl habitat in North Carolina.

Hybrid ‘coy-wolves’ killing young deer


NORTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA – This June 9 photo, taken by a trail camera on the farm of large landowner Jett Ferebee, confirms that deer and other wildlife are being decimated by a genetic hybrid of coyotes and wolves. Ferebee contends the federal government’s 30-year attempt to introduce red wolves into a five-county area of northeastern North Carolina is a failed experiment.

Duck’s eye view: Impoundments look great!

On the ground: Residents have a different perspective

Ducks have been flying over Goose Creek Island even before 1750.

Ducks have been flying over Goose Creek Island even before 1750.

Ouch!  Many on the Island, think the corner of this new duck impoundment seems a bit too close to an existing home.

Ouch! Many on the Island, think the corner of this new duck impoundment seems a bit too close to an existing home.

GOOSE CREEK ISLAND – From the air, this remote northeast corner of Pamlico County looks like an ideal stopping spot for migratory waterfowl cruising the Atlantic Flyway, especially so in recent years with an unprecedented proliferation of man-made duck impoundments. However, down on the ground, these shallow, flooded feeding grounds – designed to attract various types of waterfowl, which in turn attracts a bevy of upscale, shotgun-toting hunters – have kindled the ire of many island residents.

A contingent of well spoken Goose Creek Island citizens showed up at Monday night’s meeting of the Pamlico County Commission to ask for some type of regulations to govern both the construction and location of these new impoundments.

Tall berms, which entice youngsters, are a concern of many Goose Creek Island residents.

Tall berms, which entice youngsters, are a concern of many Goose Creek Island residents.

“We are not opposed to hunting,” said Alexis Ireland. “For most of us, these impoundments are a safety issue. There are no fences, no barriers of any type. There is hunting on both sides of the highway. We are concerned about falling birdshot, unexpected loud noises, and construction of impoundments very close to existing homes.”

Peggy Page, who lives and works in the area, echoed Ireland’s comments.

“It’s not about hunting, it’s about safety,” said Page. “These impoundments are virtually being created overnight. I’ve always thought hunting is for the woods,” she added, “but now, some type of zoning or regulations are needed.”

County Commissioner Paul Delamar III did not hesitate in responding. Though clearly empathetic – “I don’t want one of these things 25 feet from my house” – Delamar quickly nixed any prospect of zoning.

“You want to fill up that courtroom over there?” asked Delamar, pointing in the direction of a large room, occasionally used by the County Commissioners for public hearings on controversial topics. “Just mention the Z-word.”

However, the reasonable entreaties did indeed spur the County Commissioners. Delamar requested “a formal legal opinion” to outline what elected officials at the county level can do to address the residents’ concerns. Jimmy Hicks, a New Bern-based attorney who is paid to advise the board on legal issues, promised to produce such a report for the next meeting of the Commission on Monday, July 6th.

Three letters written by Goose Creek Island residents, which were hand-delivered to the board Monday night.




Open letter to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Landowner says Red Wolf never roamed eastern North Carolina

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

By Jett Ferebee

To: Ms. Sharneka Harvey

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA — The Endangered Species Act 10(J) rule specifically states that a nonessential experimental population of wolves may only be released within their historical range.  The attached Department of Interior map — commissioned by the DOI to determine the historical range of the red wolf for the species’ reintroduction program — clearly shows that the red wolf was never native to the State of North Carolina.

In 1995, this statement was added to the 50 CFR Part 17 1995 rules revision for the red wolf program in NC:

“(9)(i) The Alligator River reintroduction site is within the historic range of the species in North Carolina, in Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell, and Washington Counties; because of its proximity and potential conservation value, Beaufort County is also included in the experimental population designation.”

In a recent Red Wolf ‘Program Evaluation’ prepared by the Wildlife Management Institute, the former Red Wolf Coordinator for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Mike Phillips, made the following comments: 

“It should be clearly noted in the report that the red wolf genome that exists is the product of selective breeding by U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists in the 1970s.” 

“There is no denying that the existing red wolf genome is something of a human construct.”

Ms. Harvey, please provide specific and detailed evidence that the “red wolf” that was a “human construct” and was “selectively bred” in a zoo in Tacoma, Washington, using hybridized coy-wolves from the State of Texas was ever present in the North Carolina counties of Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell, Washington, and Beaufort as explicitly stated and added in 9(i) of the 50 CFR Part 17 1995 Rules revisions mentioned above.

The fact that this “invented” red wolf or any red wolf was never native to the State of North Carolina is perhaps a great indicator as to why, after 28 years, this taxpayer funded experiment continues to fail.

I would like this information in whatever format is most cost effective for the Service. I am a private citizen and will pay the costs up to $1,000 without the need for you to ask my permission.  If I missed something, please let me know.


Jett Ferebee
Greenville, N.C. 

State’s red wolves may be on their way out

By Fred Bonner | Special to the County Compass

Editor’s note: Fred Bonner is a respected wildlife biologist, avid hunter, and outdoors columnist, who has first-hand knowledge of the state’s Red Wolf Program, which began in 1987.

EASTERN N.C. — A recent report from the Wildlife Management Institute to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and to our own North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission really blasts the way that the red wolf introduction (not RE-introduction) has been conducted here in Beaufort, Hyde, Tyrell, Dare and Washington Counties since the late 1980s.

The report could mean the beginning of the end for the entire red wolf program in our state.

Steve Williams, the former Director of the USFWS and now an official with the Wildlife Management Institute, answered questions from the press regarding the report. To those media organizations that were extremely vocal in favoring the red wolf program, Williams’ comments were likely construed as a well-deserved “slap in the face.”

The lengthy report can be summarized in a few conclusions that criticize many facets of the red wolf project here in North Carolina.

1) The taxonomy of the red wolf remains unclear. A branch of science that encompasses the description, identification, nomenclature, and classification of living creatures, taxonomy uncertainty surrounding red wolves certainly contributes to the current controversy. Regardless of the outcome of further analysis of red wolf taxonomy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service faces extremely difficult decisions regarding the future direction of the recovery program.

To further illustrate how the genetic make-up of the red wolves is open to serious questions, in the peer review section of the report the former head of the red wolf project in North Carolina, Mike Phillips, states that “It should be clearly noted in the report that the red wolf genome that exists is the product of selective breeding by U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) biologists in the1970s.The text on Page 18 could be expanded to note that over 400 canids were captured in Louisiana and Texas in the early 1970s and examined for red wolf traits. Of these I recall that about 43 were allowed to breed to determine the nature of pups produced. Of those that were allowed to breed, 14 were chosen as the founding stock for the captive breeding program.

“While I recognize that the USFWS biologists did the best they could with the information that was available at the time, it is still true that selectively moving animals through a review process that was based on somewhat arbitrary minimum taxonomic standards represents selective breeding that resulted in a certain phenotypic type of red wolf. There is no denying that the existing red wolf genome is something of a human construct. Given Congress’ clear intent for the 1973 Endangered Species Act to serve toconserve genetics, a clear understanding of the origins of the red wolf genome is of cardinal importance”.

2) “There is no theoretical or practical reason to believe that red wolves will constrain their activities or movements to a jurisdictional boundary, especially when red wolf density increases within that boundary and prey levels fluctuate through time.”

3) ”Current sea level rise modeling indicates that significant portions of the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and portions of the Albemarle Peninsula will be lost to sea level rise within the next 50–75 years. Current efforts to adapt to sea level rise, build resiliency, and restore hydrology are not complimentary to red wolf habitat needs at Alligator River or Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuges.”.

4)  “The project has demonstrated that captured red wolves can be successfully reintroduced into the wild and rear offspring of their own in areas without coyotes. Given that coyotes now fully occupy former wolf range, it is unclear whether red wolves can be successfully reintroduced and rear non-hybridized young without active human intervention.”

The Wildlife Management Institute report further states that “It is clear that the USFWS rules implied that red wolves would stay on refuge property or that they would be immediately recaptured and returned to refuge property. These assumptions were unrealistic and scientifically unsound. The very fact that red wolves were illegally released onto private land with and without the permission of the private landowners points out serious problems with the USFWS program management.
“USFWS staff reported to WMI that some red wolves were released on private property with the permission of the landowner. These actions appear to conflict with the rule that stated red wolves would be released on the Alligator River NWR property. WMI was provided with a list of releases that indicated of 132 releases of red wolves between 1987 and 2013, 64 were released on private property. WMI is unaware if agreements existed between the Fish & Wildlife Service and private landowners with respect to these releases; however, they appear to be in contradiction to the 1986, 1991, and 1995 10(j) final rules.
“The 10(j) Rules also stated that, at the request of the landowner, wolves would be captured on private property and returned to the refuge property. WMI found that it was a common practice to inform landowners that wolves would not stay on the refuge and would probably return to private property. Some wolves captured on private property were released on private property rather than returned to the refuge lands. These activities were contradictory to the 10(j) Rules established at the onset of the recovery program. WMI concluded that the authors of the rules were either misinformed about red wolf dispersal behavior or were unconcerned if the rules were violated. Local program staff was asked to comply with rules that were untenable. We concluded that local staff did their best to achieve program success and work with private landowners in spite of the rules because they realized the rules were not realistic for successful project implementation.”
When an international pro-carnivore (Pro red wolf) group protested the report’s findings and pointed out that their group had posted over 100,000 comments representing some 40 different nations that supported the red wolf program herein North Carolina, Williams curtly responded that we aren’t running a popularity contest here, we’re reporting on our findings of a purely scientific experiment.

In spite of the damaging findings of the Wildlife Management Report, it will take time for the red wolf program to wind-down and, hopefully, disappear from the scene. Our federal government does not like to admit to making mistakes and still save face. In the meanwhile, five eastern North Carolina counties must live with certain restrictions on how we must live with the deadly combination of predatory coyotes, red wolves and “coy-wolves.”

Until these predators are brought under control through proper wildlife management, our populations of whitetail deer and small game animals will not prosper. Meanwhile restrictions placed on coyote hunting in the five-county area by a federal court order must be tolerated..

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

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 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 recent compromise 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 introduction 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

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission requested a programmatic review of the red wolf introduction 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 early2015.

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 at1-855-496-5837 or N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission at 1-800-662-7137.

Red wolf foes gain momentum

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

GREENVILLE – Red wolf foes took advantage of the largest football crowd in the history of East Carolina University to display an airplane-pulled banner Saturday afternoon, minutes before the Pirates’ 70 to 41 pummeling of the UNC-CH Tar Heels.

There’s no telling how many of the 51,000 fans at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium fans pulled out smart phones to ‘Google’ the phrase “Red Wolf Restoration Scandal.”

Those who did would have seen dozens of links tons to publicity and documents decrying a multi-million dollar federal effort, originally begun in the late1980s, to relocate the red wolf to five counties in the state’s eastern environs.

One large landowner in the so-called ‘red wolf recovery area’ is Jett Ferebee. For years, he has been pushing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to pull the plug on what Ferebee calls “a failed experiment.”

The well-timed aerial onslaught missed a Monday morning headline — touted Sept. 22 on the website of a pro-wolf, New York-based organization – which, in a perverse way, may point to Ferebee’s trump card in a controversy that has tentacles throughout the world.

“FOR RED WOLVES, IGNORING CLIMATE CHANGE IS NOT AN OPTION” screamed the website of the Wolf Conservation Center in upstate New York.

Alert readers may want to visit

From Ferebee’s perspective, the Obama administration’s obsession with climate change might just be the key!

“Well, here you go,” wrote Ferebee in an e-mail blast to followers, estimated by some to number in the thousands. “That title says it all. Even the Wolf Conservation Center has now decided eastern N.C. is not the place for wolves.”

Although the website goes on to describe North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge as the “only one place in the wild” where red wolves exist, Ferebee replies “except it may all be underwater soon” due to climate change.

Ferebee cites a recent article in Smithsonian Magazine that describes coastal North Carolina as “more vulnerable than almost anywhere else in the United States to sea-level rise associated with climate change, and the 154,000 acre Alligator River refuge could be one of the first areas to go under.”

Ferebee, always astute to any political correctness that might ultimately roll back the red wolf experiment, closes his e-mail with a tongue-in-cheek comment:

“May I personally suggest South Salem, N.Y. (home of the Wolf Conservation Center) where the elevation is 541 feet above sea level as a relocation site,” wrote Ferebee.

The implication was clear. Much of eastern North Carolina, where wolf-coyote hybrids now roam, has an elevation above sea level in the single digits.

Editor’s note: To contact Ferebee, please e-mail and we will be happy to steer you in his direction.

Related Media

USFWS Illegally Releases Critically Endangered Species on Private Land Owners from Red Wolf Restoration Scandal on Vimeo.

Landowner makes case to end Red Wolf Recovery Program

A trail camera on a large farm owned by Jett Ferebee records images of red wolves, coyotes, and hybrids known as coy-wolves – created by inbreeding between the two species.

A trail camera on a large farm owned by Jett Ferebee records images of red wolves, coyotes, and hybrids known as coy-wolves – created by inbreeding between the two species.

By Jett Ferebee | Special to the County Compass

Editor’s note: Jett Ferebee owns a large tract in Tyrrell County, which he calls Bee Tree Farm. The location shares a long border with the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, where red wolves were introduced in the late 1980s. Mr. Ferebee recently submitted this document, titled RED WOLF FACTS, ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION, to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA — I have lived the nightmare of 15 wolves taking my family’s farm and U.S. Fish and Wildlife was either unable or unwilling to remove the wolves as required by law. The dream I have had for as long as I can remember has been destroyed by the very agency tasked with protecting our wildlife resources.

  • The farm once referred to by my children as The Zoo is no longer a place they ask to go and take their friends.
  • The heritage I wished to pass down to the next generation is what is now endangered. All of this, for a hybrid coywolf of questionable DNA that is classified as experimental and non-essential.
  • Where we are now:
    • Four original breeding pairs of red wolves grew to a high of 21 breeding pairs. Coyotes entered the recovery area and we are now down to only seven breeding pairs even with perpetual releases of new wolves into the recovery area. This is a net increase of three breeding pairs in 27 years at a taxpayer cost of over $30 million. Yes, that works out to be over $10 million per incremental pair.
    • The decline in breeding pairs was predicted in 1999 by officials with the Red Wolf Recovery program if hybridization and inbreeding could not be controlled. This computer modeling of the breeding pair population has proven to be uncannily accurate.
    • 40 percent of the currently known wolf packs contain coyotes. Hybridization of the large unknown wolf population is unable to be monitored or controlled.
    • Wolves and coyotes are breeding at an alarming rate because coyotes currently outnumber wolves at least three to one.
    • The critical success factor for the recovery program area to be coyote free no longer exists on the Albemarle peninsula.
    • Wildlife biologists have admitted that they cannot control the influx of coyotes into the recovery area. It is not physically possible to give vasectomies and tubal ligations to every coyote and hybrid across the 1.7 million acre recovery area.
    • Dare County, the founding site where the recovery effort started 27 years ago and the heart of the Zone 1 adaptive management efforts has declined from four red wolf pairs in 2002 to only one red wolf pair in 2012. (Source: USFWS 2013 Chicago Presentation)
    • Only six of the original 14 founding wolves are genetically represented in the wild and the effects of inbreeding are prevalent. (Source: Dr. Joey Hinton)
    • Pup recruitment rates are at an all time low in 2013. (Source: USFWS 2013 Chicago Presentation)
    • The Red Wolf is rated 5C under the Endangered Species Act. 5C is defined as: “low potential for recovery.”
    • The red wolf population decline continues as predicted in 1999.
    • The coyote and hybrid populations continue to increase.
    • Wildlife across Eastern NC has been decimated. And, due to a recent court order, which prohibits coyote hunting in the five-county Red Wolf Recovery area, we now have two fully protected canine predators in eastern NC – coyotes and red wolves. The impact on native wildlife populations is a potentially devastating unknown, which no one profiting from the red wolf program seems to care about.
    • Ignoring all current science, a federal judge’s ruling has rendered the coyote a more protected species than the Red Wolf. The value of my recently acquired federal ‘Take Permit’ for Red Wolves is now questionable and only increases my risk of violating a law as I protect my private property.
    • The Red Wolf Recovery Implementation Team (RWRIT), which was supposed to be so critical in helping and monitoring the recovery efforts has vanished.
    • The Red Wolf Recovery Coordinator David Rabon, like so many wolves, has dispersed the recovery area and now supposedly manages this failed experiment from Charlotte, NC.
    • The Red Wolf Coalition has sued our North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission as the USFWS Red Wolf Coordinator, David Rabon, was a sitting member of the Coalition’s Board of Directors.
  • Is the Red Wolf program in compliance with the 50 CRF Part 17 1995 Rules Revisions, the Endangered Species Act or even NC State Wildlife Laws?
    • Requests for removal of wolves from private landowners continue to be ignored. This protection for private landowners was mandated by 50 CRF Part 17 in the 1995 Rules Revisions allowing the red wolf program to expand beyond Dare County. USFWS now says this protection is not sustainable.
    • The Red Wolf program was to be managed on federal land with 40 to 50 wolves. Only two out of 18 packs reside on public land. 90 percent of the red wolf population now inhabits private land.
    • In the 1995 Rules Revision, USFWS assured citizens that legal activities would not be impacted by the Red Wolf program. Coyote hunting – a formerly legal activity — has now been banned. Rabbit hunting on my farm ceased three years ago. Last year we cancelled our annual youth hunt as the deer population has been decimated by wolves, hybrids and coyotes.
    • Only one mandatory five-year review of this non-essential experimental red wolf program has been conducted in its 27-year history. USFWS continues to place itself above the law in its pursuit of this failed program.
    • Adaptive management plans have been initiated and changed with absolutely no stakeholder consensus.
    • There is nothing self-sustaining about the current red wolf program. For 27 years it has required constant human intervention and continuous releases of new wolves from its captive population.
    • The recovery objective of 80 percent to 90 percent genetic integrity can never be achieved in the wild. The wild population was at 900 percent of that introgression rate in 1999 according to the Virginia Beach RWRIT study results. It was deemed that the breed would no longer be recognizable in two to three generations if hybridization were not controlled.
    • The program objective of three self-sustaining wild populations is so far fetched it is not even being actively pursued.
    • The only program objectives which may possibly be met are limited to the ones involving the captive breeding population
    • There are currently well-founded allegations of multiple wildlife crimes being committed by USFWS personnel and their contractors currently under investigation by NCWRC. Including:
      • Sterilization of coyotes without the required permit
      • Trapping out of season without a permit
      • Trapping on the land of another without written permission
      • Releasing coyotes on the land of another without permission
      • Illegal purchase of live coyotes, entrapment and misrepresentation
  • Placeholder Theory is a documented failure
    • If the silver bullet of adaptive management by giving tubal ligations and vasectomies to coyotes across the 1.7 million acre recovery area worked, why are there now more coyotes and LESS wolves 15 years later in the recovery area?
    • I was told by USFWS that I had no wolves on my farm, so just shoot whatever was there because it was a coyote. Knowing better and not wanting to kill a red wolf, I proceeded to capture five red wolves, two collared placeholder coyotes, 11 coyote/wolf hybrids in a 30 day time period. Obviously someone failed to read their job description to the two collared “placeholder coyotes”. The placeholder coyotes apparently were protecting NO territory. This is quite contrary to what is still being falsely purported by USFWS.
    • This trapping exercise shows extraordinary population data that destroys the placeholder theory. I trapped a 2,800 acre farm with “no wolves” (USFWS claim) and I caught five red wolves in 30 days. All but one wolf was positively identified by USFWS and turned over to them. Four wolves per 2,800 acres times 1.7 million acres yields an estimated wolf population of 2,428 wolves for the recovery area. I caught 13 coyotes/hybrids from a farm with two collared placeholder coyotes. 13 coyotes per 2,800 acres times 1.7 million acres yields an estimated coyote population of 7,893 coyotes for the recovery area. Now keep in mind, this data was generated on a farm claimed by USFWS to have NO wolves. It also had two of the end all, save all ‘placeholder coyotes.’ The estimated carrying capacity for the recovery area is 140 canines (Source: 1999 PHVA study). The program was only intended to be 40 to 50 wolves maintained on Federal land.
    • After 13 years of placeholder theory, Dare County Zone 1 red wolf pairs have declined 67 percent from 4 pairs in 2002 to only one pair in 2012. (Source: USFWS 2013 Chicago Presentation)
    • After 13 years of placeholder theory, pup recruitment has reached an all time low in the recovery area. (Source: USFWS 2013 Chicago Presentation)
    • Breeding pairs declined from 21 pairs in 2003 to just seven breeding pairs in 2014.
    • A slide from the 2013 USFWS Chicago presentation depicts a chart that actually shows that as sterile mixed coyote/wolf pairs increased over the last 10 years, breeding red wolf pairs decreased. The two seem actually to be negatively correlated.
    • David Rabon’s continuous claim that adaptive management using placeholder theory is a success completely undermines any remaining credibility the Service may still have in the local community that knows better.
  • 90 percent of the red wolves reside on private land because private land provides better habitat than federal lands. The Feds have flooded their land and forced the wolves onto private land.
  • Unfortunately, the red wolf recovery program has failed as a result of coyotes becoming so prevalent in the recovery area as well as U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s continuous mismanagement of the program and misrepresentation of the facts.
    • With coyotes now inundating the recovery area, what does a successful wolf program mean to NC?
      • There will always be a hybrid population of canines on the fringes of the recovery area. This non-native canine is bigger, stronger, and more destructive than a coyote and it is currently dispersing throughout our State. The only recovery program success ultimately will be to have introduced a non-native invasive hybrid coywolf to the entire east coast.
    • USFWS’ s failure to comply with their agreed upon 1995 Rules Revisions has now completely undermined any local support of the USFWS, in particular the red wolf program.
  • There are three alternatives before us:
    • Declare this program a success and dump this problem on the back of NC taxpayers.
      • Only our current government can take a 27-year-old failed experiment and call it a success and then dump the problem (SELC and Defenders of Wildlife included) on the NC citizens and taxpayers.
  • Scale the program back to Dare County and /or Federal land only.
    • With the Zone 1 failure in Dare County documented (4 wolf pairs to only 1 wolf pair), this hardly seems plausible.
    • With 90 percent of the wolf population residing off of Federal land, again this scenario hardly seems plausible.
  • After 27 years, USFWS must finally come forward and acknowledge that the recovery program has not and cannot meet its objectives. The critical and necessary conditions on the ground for a successful reintroduction are no longer present as they once were at the inception of this recovery effort in 1987. Now, 27 years later, in the best interest of NC’s wildlife and in order to save the red wolf from hybridization, the remaining pure wolves must be trapped and relocated.
    • The critical success factor of no coyotes in the recovery area does not exist. By all counts there are at least three coyotes for every one wolf in the recovery area. Three biologists cannot possibly practice surgical birth control on every coyote and hybrid on 1.7 million acres.
    • USFWS must recognize the damage to eastern NC’s native wildlife, the risk of hybridization, inbreeding, and ultimately the extinction of the Red Wolf in the wild if it continues the program’s current course.
    • USFWS must acknowledge that none of the program objectives pertaining to the wild red wolf population have been met after 27 years of this failed experiment.
  • The only red wolves in the wild, have been trapped and relocated in order to save them on two previous occasions. All of the conditions that led to the previous trapping and relocation of both of these populations of red wolves now exist and persist in the five county recovery area in combination.
  • In the 1970s, the last remaining wild red wolves were trapped from the marshes of Texas in order to save them from hybrid swarm as coyotes engulfed their last territory. USFWS biologists feared hybridization with coyotes would render the red wolf unrecognizable and extinct in the wild. This is the exact situation that we are experiencing in NC.
  • In 1998, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park red wolf reintroduction project was cancelled due to low pup survival and the inability to maintain and keep the wolves on federal land.
    • Pup recruitment has reached an all time low in the five county recovery area of NC. (Source: 2013 USFWS Chicago Presentation)
    • 90 percent of all the red wolves reside on private land in the five county recovery area of NC.

In conclusion, as worthy as this reintroduction effort may have once been, it simply cannot succeed. Conditions on the ground have changed and the continued pursuit of this failed experiment only serves to jeopardize the future of this red wolf population, the native wildlife of our state, and any future USFWS reintroduction efforts that depend on private landowner support and participation. The USFWS red wolf program’s science, its management and its ability to maintain local support have all now failed.

Quoting the last paragraph of the Red Wolf Management Series Technical Report No. 12;

Reintroductions are very costly, and the amount of funding available for endangered species recovery is limited. In addition, we are public servants, who must use public funds wisely.  Although decisions to stop funding work on endangered species are difficult, it is incumbent on us to be realistic and prudent in the use of public money.  If a reintroduction is unsuccessful, the project should be stopped and money should be redirected to higher priorities within a recovery program or made available to other endangered species, many of which are not adequately funded for recovery work.  The Service terminated the Park reintroduction in 1998 based on the lack of survivability in pups and the inability of the red wolves to establish home ranges within the Park.”

Editor’s note: Readers may e-mail Mr. Ferebee at:

Red wolves take a beating at hearing

Aerial banner draws support, applause

By Fred Bonner | Special to the County Compass

NEWS1-Red-Wolf-banner-picCOLUMBIA, NC — As I waited for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s meeting on the Red Wolves and the federal ban on shooting coyotes in Beaufort, Hyde, Tyrell, Dare and Washington Counties, I was stunned to see a small airplane circling overhead and towing a banner that read: “Google Red Wolf Restoration Scandal.”

Someone really wants to expose the failure, and the expense, of this U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s project in eastern North Carolina.

The well-publicized meeting was not necessarily about the red wolf project proper. It was about the Federal Court temporarily banning the day or night shooting of coyotes because someone was accidentally killing red wolves thinking that they thought were the look-alike coyotes.

What’s really interesting about this entire segment of the red wolf issue is that suddenly it has become against a federal law to kill (or even antagonize) a coyote and not against the law to shoot a red wolf once it was off the federal refuges and as long as the shooter reported it to the proper agencies.

Go figure that one out! Our government works in strange ways!

After the 75-80 people watching the plane circling overhead had waved encouragingly at the pilot, they walked into the auditorium at the Columbia High School where Wildlife Resources Commission officials had set up microphones for the public to express their ideas and opinions on the court-ordered temporary ban on shooting coyotes.

There were no shortages of speakers who lined up. About 35 spoke out firmly against the red wolves and coyote-hunting ban in eastern North Carolina, while only two speakers voiced their opinions in favor of the red wolves and coyote-hunting ban.

Commission officials handed out sheets that allowed all the attendees at the hearing to express their views so even though they might not have time to hear all speakers, everyone had a chance to express their views.

Most of the speakers who wanted to see the temporary federal ban on shooting coyotes in the five-county core areas (where the red wolf project is taking place) removed spoke very well and had no problem with also speaking out against the red wolf project.